The workshop for humor writing, human interest writing, networking and getting published

Erma Bombeck Wrighters' Workshop Banner

Six at six

Elaine Fields SmithLittle ol’ lonesome me stepped into the busy restaurant and asked for a table for six. At six.

I was there to meet up with five of my college girlfriends and arrived early to get a table. Trouble was it was only 20 minutes until six. So the hostess must have thought there was plenty of time to get a table ready because she motioned to a bench against the front window and advised me to take a seat. That really didn’t make sense as there were at least a dozen empty tables within sight of the presently assigned seating area. This was a maroon, diamond-tucked bench stretching 10 feet long. Seemed more appropriate for the long wait at a dignified steak and potato place rather than at a trendy Mexican joint.

But back to the table situation. I was bettin’ the bulk of the wait staff didn’t go on duty until six, even on a Friday night. Apparently one isn’t allowed to sit at a table if there isn’t a wait person available to cater to your needs.

People comin’ into the place seemed a bit on the grumpy side with sweat runnin’ down their necks after being outside in the heat. Still, it wouldn’t kill ‘em to smile a little. If not at me, at least at each other. Or maybe it would kill ‘em, much like the Mexican food they were about to inhale before going back out in the summer swelter. The thought crossed my mind that maybe this wasn’t the best place for my group to meet. Might and should have gone for something cool. But finding a restaurant with tables, ice cream and, most importantly, margaritas ain’t all that easy.

Or, maybe those grumpy folks were just plain ornery. For example: after the woman walked toward the restroom, the hostess showed up to seat the men. One laughed sarcastically and said, “Don’t tell her where we are!” Now, that is ornery. I’d kick that son of a gun in his hairy shins, which should have been covered up with denim instead of sticking out in front of God and everybody from those wrinkled shorts.

Six more minutes passed toward getting my table for six at six. There I still sat on the diamond-tucked bench. Luckily, the air conditioning was set on about 55 degrees, but I was gettin’ a little thirsty. Maybe, I thought, the night shift will come shuffling in and I can get a glass of water while I wait. But no such luck. No new workers appeared. I considered waltzing over to the bar and demanding loudly, “Gimme some water, easy on the ice.” But that was a laugh because there was no way in heaven and earth I would sashay up to the bar with all those young, beautiful people hanging about with their lemon-raspberry flavored malt beverages.

Then again, what’s stopping me? If I did go dive in amongst those youngsters, I would grin and nod as though we knew each other, and they’d think I was some crazy old lady. Though I am happy to say not much gray shows in my decently brown hair and I have never colored it. In fact, I recently sat in a group of 23 high school girlfriends and was pretty sure only myself and one other gal had not resorted to washing away the gray. She had plenty and was proud to have it. As my daddy used to say, I’d rather it turn gray than turn loose.

Regardless, this old age thing is mostly in the mind, partly in the body. I recently read somewhere that the average person considers “old age” to be at least 10 years over their current age. I find this to be true. Those 22-year-old beautiful people probably would think this 59-year-old to be elderly. But they’d be dead wrong. Not me. No siree. What they don’t know is I drive a fast car, have a motorcycle license, and also own a fine looking convertible. Sure, most of my friends are not only parents, but grandparents, but I skipped that extra contributor that would certainly have forced massive amounts of Loving Care into my hair.

As it got closer to six, the six hadn’t shown up yet. Did I worry they wouldn’t and I’d still be sittin’ by my lonesome self at 6:30 at a table for six — if I ever get one, that is. No, I wasn’t concerned. I knew the other five would come and make us six. But as time passed, I thought more seriously about that glass of water. Or just some ice. Just as I rose to take action on that idea, one of my friends entered the restaurant. It struck me funny or ironic that it is the gal who lives the farthest away. I thought, if she wants some water, too, perhaps we can face the beautiful people together over at that bar and say something like, “Bartender,” slam our fists down on the polished wood, “I need a drink…of water.”

— Elaine Fields Smith

Elaine Fields Smith is an author and publisher in Texas who loves her friends, her animals and her husband of 34 years. Her creative nonfiction books are often categorized as “The Good, The Bad and The Funny” and can be seen on www.blazingstarbooks.com.

You won’t believe
what my husband called me!

Heather ChristieLong ago when my husband and I first dated, he had sweet terms of endearment for me. Young love makes you say silly things.

Darling.

Sweetheart.

Honeybunches.

His friends teased him. But he could help himself! He was so in love. And I secretly savored these pet names, too. It was the first time I’d ever garnered this type of affection.

Fast-forward 27 years.

Now, it’s Hon. Or Honey on a good day.

The other night I reminded him of the cute names he used to call me and suggested that he might want to start calling me Rosebud, because I am so sweet, I smell good, and I look like a rose in a metaphorical sort of way.

“Rosebud?” He voice was shrill in disbelief. “How about Thorn?” he suggested. “You know, like a thorn in my side?”

Really?

“I like Rosebud better,” I said. “Plus it’s good for the kids to see and hear you talk sweetly to me.”

“No, you’re more like a thorn.” He paused. “But you’re pretty smart. How about Smarth?”

Smarth.

Just mash smart and thorn together and there you go — a lovely title for the mother of his children.

How would you like to be called a Smarth?

I’m a character in a Dr. Suess book.

Are you smart and like art?

Or is your norm being a thorn?

No matter. Now what. You’re not a Darth or a Garth.

Smile. You’re a Smarth!

I just Googled the Top Most Hated Pet Names For Women. Unbelievably, Smarth did not make the list. But it’s showing up in family group texts and being whispered in my ear as I fall asleep.

I guess sweet nothings like Darling, Sweetheart and Honeybunches are just that: sweet nothings (insubstantial or romantic words that are only meant to flatter, woo or seduce, according to www.yourdictionary.com). Now Smarth — there’s some meat behind that pet name.

Although, I’d argue Rosebud is a more accurate description of me.

Well, I can fight fire with fire. I’ve just informed my husband that I am now calling him Haireak (hairy + neat freak = Haireak — accent on the eak). He’s losing his hair and it’s growing in places where it’s not supposed to sprout (nose, ears, back), and he’s infuriatingly neat and expects everybody else to be as well.

At least I’m not calling him Bucky like his high school friends still do.

No, I think Haireak suits him perfectly.

His response?

“That’s okay my sweet darling Smarth.”

— Heather Christie

Heather Christie is a wife, mother, writer, real estate broker, knitter, cook, exercise freak and avid reader. When she’s not selling houses, she’s writing books and blogging about food, family and philosophy at www.HeatherChristieBooks.com. She can be found on Facebook at @heatherchristiebooks and on Twitter @heatherc_writes.

Seeking practical, finding poignant

Lisa CarpenterThe latch on the door to the cabinet where I keep my kitchen garbage needs repair. It won’t stay closed. And though I know it won’t stay closed without me fiddling and finagling the broken latch to keep it shut, I open the darn thing each time I need to throw something away.

With Jim still as broken as the door — hobbling about on crutches and currently unable to help with even the smallest home repair — I’m determined to fix the thing myself.

“Why don’t you just switch the garbage to the other side?” one of my daughters asked… after she’d opened it when I warned her not to as I had just finagled the thing shut… again.

It doesn’t work that way, I told her. I’ve opened that door a billion times to throw something away. Moving the garbage can to the other side won’t change my habit of opening the current side. I have no doubt I would still open the darn broken door out of habit, still have to fiddle and finagle the door to stay shut.

The other night I told Jim I was going to run to Lowe’s to get a new latch. “Don’t!” he said. “I’m pretty sure I have another in the garage, in one of those drawers.”

Unable to go through any “of those drawers” himself, I headed out to the garage yesterday morning to look for the spare cabinet latch.

After an hour or so, I came back with this:

happydogsLisaCarpenter

A picture of my sweet Moses (left) and Mickey (right) along with Hunter, Brianna’s dog who lived with us when we first moved to this house. All three dogs were happy as could be that day nearly nine years ago, long before Moses passed away and Hunter moved out.

How did I go from seeking a latch to finding a photo?

If you’re anything like me — and have a garage anything like mine — you likely don’t even question such a result. You get that after picking through drawers of nuts and screws and nails and emery boards (?) and hammers and bolts and bits that fit funky tools I’ve never seen Jim use in search of the extra latch, I got sidetracked by what was on top of those drawers: a counter filled with empty windshield wiper fluid bottles and empty plastic bags and empty packages that once held screws and nails now scattered about those drawers of do-it-yourselfer detritus.

I gathered the gunk from the counter to take out to the big green recycle bin. As I dropped the goods in the bin, I saw on the bin label that empty aerosol cans can be dropped in there, too. What? I had always assumed aerosol cans were unacceptable and dangerous recyclables, according to the recycle rules. Which meant several empty spray paint cans from years of spraying crafty things lined the garage counter top along with other “unacceptable” crud, waiting for us to participate in our county’s annual “we take all your paint cans, electronic parts, unused prescription medications and more” drive in exchange for canned food donations. A drive we inevitably miss every darn year and hear about on the news after the fact.

So I gathered the empty spray paint cans and carried them to the recycle bin.

As I walked back into the garage from the driveway where the recycle and garbage bins sit, I noticed another garage shelf that held miscellaneous muck Jim plopped there a couple years ago after an accident totaled our Explorer. At the time, he had to remove all personal items from the vehicle being towed and hurriedly set them on the shelf. And forgot about them. I’m talking CDs, cassettes (honest), emery boards (?), old keys, old pens, old business cards from now-closed businesses, bank deposit slips, old registrations, and 15 years of automotive repair records previously kept in the glove compartment. Plus the leather-bound manual for that 1998 Ford Explorer I loved and lost without bidding it farewell, as Jim’s unfortunate collision with a tree took place while I was in the desert with my grandsons.

I decided to clean up the pile. I’d take the CDs inside (cassettes, too) and everything else would be pitched as garbage or recyclable, accordingly.

Now, Jim likes to hide dollar bills and printed quotes and pictures and cards and whatever else might spark his fancy in books. Why, I can’t tell ya. But I learned early in our marriage that before I donate books or lend printed materials of any sort to friends or family, I must first rifle through them to rescue long-forgotten treasures I might mistakenly give away.

It was in rifling through that Ford Explorer manual that I came across Moses and Mickey and Hunter, happy as can be. Nine years ago. Before Moses passed, before Hunter moved out with Mommy Brianna, before Mickey aged and had days he was unable to go on his daily walk (as was the case yesterday, which is why I had time to kill searching for the cabinet latch).

I smiled at the sweet photo of the three silly dogs and stuck it in my pocket. I pitched the pile of old stuff that no longer mattered into the bins, took the CDs (and cassettes) inside because they still did.

As does the poignant picture Jim had filed away for safekeeping. Or to elicit a grin when searching for answers to why an engine light won’t go off or what bulbs to buy to replace a light that won’t go on.

I didn’t find a latch, but finding that photo deemed my search a success.

Though I also found myself right back where I began: needing to head to Lowe’s for a cabinet latch.

Which I’ll do tomorrow — avoiding nary a glance at any remaining recyclables sitting upon my garage shelves.

— Lisa Carpenter

Lisa Carpenter is a freelance writer and blogger specializing in topics related to grandparenting, the empty nest and the baby boomer lifestyle. She publishes the Grandma’s Briefs website, stressing the vitality and relevance of today’s grandmothers. She also writes regularly for other sites around the web, including the Huffington Postand PurpleClover.com. Follow her on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

 

Fat cat on a thin roof

Jerry ZezimaIt has been said, probably by Andrew Lloyd Webber, that a cat has nine lives. If that’s true, it means the cats in our humble home had 36.

It also means I should win a Tony Award because my version of “Cats” ran even longer than Lloyd Webber’s, 27 years to his 18 and 9,855 daily performances to his measly 7,485.

Unfortunately, the show ended recently when Bernice, the last of our four flaky, friendly and frequently flummoxed felines, went to that big litter box in the sky.

My wife, Sue, and I got our first cat in 1989, when we bowed to the pressure of our daughters, Katie and Lauren, who were then 9 and 7 years old, respectively, and adopted Ramona, a little black and white cutie named for Ramona Quimby, the star of the Beverly Cleary children’s books.

Ramona’s claim to fame was that she made it into “Who’s Who of Animals,” even though, as it said in her entry, “An intelligence test pitting Ramona and a loaf of Wonder Bread proved inconclusive.”

Ramona went from aloof to affectionate in 1995, when we adopted a dog named Lizzie, who was so sweet and lovable that Ramona must have figured, if indeed she was capable of rational thought, that if she didn’t shape up, she would stop getting all the attention and lose her crown as the family princess.

That did not stop her, however, from eating the boiled chicken that was part of Lizzie’s diet. Lizzie, in turn, ate Ramona’s cat food.

In 1998, when we moved from Stamford, Connecticut, to Long Island, New York, I started getting strange calls at work.

“Meow,” purred the voice on the other end of the phone.

“Who is this?” I asked the first time it happened.

It was Lauren, who said she wanted a cat.

“You already have a cat,” I told her.

“I want a real cat,” Lauren insisted. “Ramona’s an idiot.”

Enter Kitty, another black and white cutie whose personality was the polar opposite of Ramona’s. She was Miss Congeniality and, at a year old, proved it by getting pregnant.

One of Kitty’s kitties was Bernice; another was Henry, the only other male in the house besides me, but since he was a mama’s boy who loved Sue and Lizzie exclusively, it didn’t even count.

Ramona, who turned out to be sweet and even smart in her own way, despite not getting along with the other three cats, lived to be almost 20. Henry, who was never the same after Lizzie passed away, was stricken with a sudden illness a year later and died at 12. Kitty died last year at 17.

That left Bernice, who was perhaps the quirkiest of them all.

While her mommy, Kitty, was a little bit of a thing, Bernice was the feline equivalent of the Goodyear Blimp. And she hated to be picked up, which was just as well because anyone who tried would have either gotten a hernia or been scratched to death.

This did not explain how Bernice, who was not appreciably smarter than Ramona, hoisted herself onto the roof of our two-story house. Practically every day, Sue and I would discover that Bernice was stuck up there and was meowing at a bedroom window.

We theorized that she climbed a nearby tree and dropped with a thud onto the roof, though we are still not sure how she did it considering the tree was a fair distance from the house and Bernice weighed about as much as a full-grown male orangutan.

The tree was old and starting to rot, so we had it taken down before both it and Bernice crashed through the roof. Perhaps not coincidentally, her climbing adventures abruptly ended.

But her quirkiness didn’t. She loved to be petted and would jump onto Sue or me while we were watching TV, purring contentedly during shows that were appropriately mindless.

Now she’s gone, the last of our four family felines, and it’s the end of an era. Like Ramona, Kitty and Henry before her, Bernice was the cat’s meow.

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima, who served on the faculty at the 2010 EBWW, writes a humor column for the Stamford Advocate that is nationally syndicated through the Tribune News Service and regularly appears in the Huffington Post. He’s written three books, Grandfather Knows BestLeave it to Boomer and The Empty Nest Chronicles. He has won six humor-writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and was named EBWW’s Humor Writer of the Month twice. He is the past president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Useless yard sale: you’re invited

Sammy SportfaceStep right up. Rummage around. Bring your money.

Make sure you’ve taken your pills that help with your balance. You will need them to keep from falling over in my driveway, which has a steep slant.

Via text, Instagram, Facebook, Fitbit, Amazon, YouTube, Snapchat, The Bernardsville News and snail mail, I have been hyping my first-time-ever, never-will-happen-again, going-out-of-business driveway, disheveled garage and poison ivy sale.

Come check out my eclectic spread of sports collectibles. For $200 you can buy the football cleats my son wore in fifth grade for the Somerset Hills Bulldogs pony league team that lost more games than it won.

The underbelly of these cleats features eight-year-old crusted chunks of mud. Other than that fire sale of miscellaneous stuff pawned at the Peapack-Gladstone/Bedminster each fall, where else are you going to find Bulldog cleats decorated with eight-year-old mud?

Rather than having to wait until the fall to get those dilapidated cleats for $2, you can get mine for $200 right now and throw them in a crevice in the corner of your garage like I did for eight years.

If you’re shopping for your daughters, you can get a set of Toys “R” Us pink rollerblades that were in style 10 years ago. Counterintuitively, buying these will make you feel you’re up with the times. Old things are the new craze. Consider those circular, jet black 33 and 45 records that have become popular in recent years in a direct response to the global overdose of iPads, Pandora, and pirating of songs off the Internet.

Because I never considered rollerblading a sport, you can have them for free. Rollerblading is a fraudulent and sorry attempt at being a sport. It was a marketing stunt that got derailed.

You can have my son’s navy blue baseball helmet that has dirt stains on the top and mildewed sweat on the inside. The helmet may not fit your head, but it may fit your son’s. Why not give it a try? If it doesn’t fit his head, just throw it in the corner of your garage like I did for 10 years.

For those Dads out there thinking you have a son who might be a good baseball pitcher, I can take you to my backyard where, in the poison ivy, you will see a silver pitchback with a rectangular strike zone in the ballpark of regulation size.

Like everything in life, there is a good news and bad news with this item.The bad news is the pitch back is bent — meaning half broken — and it doesn’t bounce the ball back far enough for it to be worthwhile to practice with. The good news is it has never been used and that I assembled it myself, which ensures it will probably fall apart after your son throws against it a few times.

You will have to step through the poison ivy, pick it up and carry it home yourself. It’s yours for free. Because you’re my fellow neighbor, for $20 I’ll help you carry it to your front curb as long as you live within one block of my house.

At a separate table that will look akin to a shrine you can consider buying the Celtic green jersey. Decorated with the number “33” in white letters, you are looking at Larry Bird’s uniform. He is the greatest basketball player who has ever lived. Yes, he was better than Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

For $900,000 you can have it with one caveat. Within one week you will have to bring it back to me dry cleaned.

For you amateur carpenters in my hood, I have some random pieces of wood that used to hang out underneath our bed mattresses. I’ll pay you $20 to take those off my hands. Sweetening the offer, I’ll pay you $200 to take away my five smelly mattresses as long as you go up on a ladder to pull them down from a platform near the garage’s ceiling.

Also for sale is a half-empty, drip-stained can of off-white paint, somewhat rotted, that is all yours for $60. Paint is expensive. If I ever decided to pain something in my house, which would be the first time, I may want to use it. The $60 would reimburse me for the opportunity cost of having to buy more paint when I could have been watching ESPN.

I also will be selling my one snow shovel. Don’t need it. I have managed to persuade my neighbor to use his snow machine to clear my driveway every winter from now on.

The last thing I’m selling at my yard sale is an online subscription to my new e-book, Wipe That Smile Off Sammy Sportface. In my driveway on your smartphone, I will show you how go to Amazon.com, click on the book title and hit “purchase.” Go home immediately and read the masterpiece on your tablet PC. You will learn more about Caitlyn Bruce Jenner, the SWAC Conference, Donald Trumpty Dumpty, Tater Icabod Cuddles The Third, Crooked Hillary Clinton, Lyin’ Ted Cruz, flying on Xanax, and how Sammy Sportface became Sammy Sportface.

— Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface is possibly America’s best blogger. He is only mildly interested in the truth. To read his new book, Wipe That Smile Off Sammy Sportface, go to Amazon.com.

Check it out

Connie BerryWell, yet another dream has come true. Not only did I fulfill my lifelong ambition of being a lunch lady, now I’ve landed a part-time job at a library. I waited a full two weeks before telling you in case I woke up and it was gone.

And, as libraries go, this one is the Ritz. It’s got pretty much every cookbook ever written and a huge DVD and blu ray collection. It’s brand-spanking new and might as well be a community center-library-coffee shop. I’ve had an uncanny stroke of luck, I know.

As with most of my fantastic experiences, I pause to posit a few drawbacks. Like I’m pretty sure all the women I work with double as yoga instructors in what little free time they could possibly have. I also put forward that they keep the air conditioning in the library at around 87 degrees, judging by my constant sweating. Then there’s the whole question of whether or not I use the composting toilets or do I take the stairs yet another time to use the conventional staff toilet downstairs? I’m sure you can guess my choice.

And there’s the fact that this means I sit down maybe a grand total of 23 minutes out of an eight-hour shift. This for a woman who spent 30 years sitting at least 12 hours a day. The other 12 hours I was either eating, sleeping or drinking. I don’t even want to think about what I look like when I have to put a book on a bottom shelf. It can’t be pretty. Never mind how I look when I have to reach waaaaaay up to the top shelf, causing my shirt to rise up above my waistband revealing a sizable spare tire — likely shiny with sweat.

Despite all its pitfalls, a library job is pretty dang sweet. All those books. All those readers. All those interesting choices. I hate to say it, but already I’m noticing what books people check out. You might see some guy with a pocket protector and black socks with shorts checking out Joyce or Milton or Stephen King or James Patterson. I love that. I note this only because I’ve always wondered if the librarian stamping the due date in my book ever noticed what I was checking out. I do. Maybe I won’t in a few years. But I doubt it; I’m way too nosey.

One reason why I coveted a library job is my deep admiration for my friend Mary Bridget Swartz of Parish, New York. She worked as librarian at the town library for what seems like 60 years. And it very well might be. Bridget recently retired but I’m sure, also being the town detective, that she’s got her hand on the pulse of that old brick library. She even made it through the computerization of the Dewey Decimal System. Those folksy little wooden drawers are long gone my friends.

Anyway, me and Debbie Patterson used to walk every morning when I lived in Parish. We’d go past what I think was the only duplex/condo-looking residence in the village and boy, would we make up some sweet daydreams about retiring to that modern-looking place.

“Okay, so this is the deal,” I’d say, “when we’re old, we get jobs at the Parish Public Library and you live in one side of the condo and I live in the other.”

“Hell yeah,” Deb would say. “Chuck could help us fix it all up and we could live there in our dotage.”

I agreed to the plan even though she was the only one with a husband at the time who, by the way, I liked to call Chucker F*****. “I could drink coffee out on the deck in the morning and throw back a few beers at night. Perfect.”

I’m just telling you now, these wheels are in motion.

— Connie Berry

Connie Berry grew up reading and loving Erma Bombeck. She is former editor of The Catholic Sun newspaper in Syracuse, N.Y., and a new resident of Martha’s Vineyard where she was copy editor for the Vineyard Gazette. She lives on the island with her husband and youngest son. Her two older children read her blog, thejoblessgoddess.blogspot.com, from Syracuse.

The rest of the story

Steve EskewEven pseudo-intellectual snobs, such as I, can’t resist reading tabloid articles while waiting in line at supermarkets. Especially stories with bold and bewitching headlines like “Face of Christ on Tortilla Draws Crowd.” Or even lugubrious, catastrophic headlines like “Man’s Testicles Sucked Down Hot Tub Drain.” Don’t we just gotta know the rest of the story?

How I miss the late broadcaster Paul Harvey. Having published a book titled The Rest of the Story, Harvey produced a similar radio segment. With great glee, Harvey provided additional information about certain happenings most newscasters never made time for.

Harvey’s charm included a signature sign-off with sly pauses and a question mark as he said: “And that is the rest of the story. Paul … Harvey … Good day?”  How I wish someone with Harvey’s style were around today.

One news story in particular has piqued the deepest recesses of my expiring mind for years. As I read about a pizza delivery driver getting his foot run over as he crossed a busy street en route to deliver six pizzas to a tavern, I sprang up in my chair spellbound. But the stupid article omitted the very stuff I yearned to know.

The story revealed that the pizza driver was whisked away in an ambulance with a  broken foot and was in stable condition. Witnesses said that a “wild-eyed motorcyclist” ruthlessly ran over the pizza man’s foot and sped off. Police soon ascertained that the pizza driver had been having a not-so-clandestine affair with the cyclist’s wife.

I snorted as I read that. I knew all about those lecherous pizza drivers. They moonlight as porn stars. But I digress.

My gripe is that the account in the paper goes on and on about all of the irrelevant facts cited above, completely ignoring the most important aspect of the story. Come on already, I simply cannot be the only person who’s dying to know the story’s biggest mystery: What happened to the pizzas?

Did the paramedics eat them? Did some glutton from the tavern come over and scoop them up off the street? Did dogs devour them? Did some callous truck driver run over them? Did sneaky cops gobble them down? What? What? What happened to them?

Furthermore, exactly what the hell kind of pizzas were they? Hamburger? Sausage? Pepperoni? Combination? Deluxe? And what about the toppings? No pineapple, I hope to God. But I’ll never know. I’ll never know.

Here’s another thing: isn’t it madness when we awaken in the middle of a dream and can’t finish the confounded thing no matter how hard we try? After such a horrible moment once, my insignificant other cruelly kicked me out of my own house and told to “get a grip” before returning. And to bring home a quart of milk and a loaf of bread.

Strolling the streets in despair, fate plopped me at a greasy spoon and smack dab in the middle of yet another conundrum. Ensconced by a window with a lovely view of a bus stop, I blankly stared at a bench where lay a sleeping bum.

Suddenly, a pickup truck screeched to a halt in front of the bench. A lumberjack of woman jumped out of the driver’s side of the truck and swaggered over to the sleeping derelict. Comically glancing from left to right like a crazed keystone cop, she yanked the bum’s baseball cap off his head and stuck it on her own head, jerking it down over her eyebrows. Then she quickly jumped back inside the pickup and tore out of sight, burning rubber all the way.

Oh why, oh why, oh why-o?

Realizing that I would never know the rest of the story, I launched into such a fit of rage that the greasy spoon’s bouncer kicked me out. Can I help it if I’m a guy who desperately needs closure? To top everything else off, I forgot to pick up my ball and chain’s bread and milk and was denied re-entry at home. Humph! The rest of that story should have landed her in litigation.

For peace of mind, I’ve resolved henceforth to hang closely to my Pathological Liars Anonymous meetings. Now there’s a place where the rest of any story is told in its entirety. And then some.

Steve … Eskew … Good day?

— Steve Eskew

Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. After one of his professors asked him to write a theater column, he began a career as a journalist at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This led to hundreds of publications in a number of newspapers, most of which appear on his website, eskewtotherescue.com.

It’s National (fill in the blank) Day

Ann_GreenWhat’s today? Monday? Tuesday? No, I mean what day is it? It has to be National Something Day.

Every time I look on Facebook, pick up a magazine or tune in to the news, it’s National (or International) Something Day (Week or Month). It could be National Be Nasty Day or National Submarine Day or perhaps National Bunsen Burner Day (all real according to the online National Day Calendar). Days, weeks and months are increasingly losing their identities as simple markers of time. I’ve been wondering how these day designations started and got so out of control.

Some groups want to draw attention to and help raise funds for important causes. I have no problems with Glaucoma Awareness Month, World Aids Day, National Infertility Awareness Week, International Blood Cancer Awareness Month, Volunteer Blood Donor Month and so on. Some diseases get the global treatment, such as World Hepatitis Day, World Autism Awareness Day and World No Tobacco Day. There is a National Constipation Awareness Month (really!), although one assumes that the sufferers are quite aware. Reading about Anosmia Awareness Day was very helpful because I was not aware of anosmia — loss of smell — and now I am. Global Handwashing Day seems superfluous, but I guess there are people who need to be reminded.

Some special days/weeks/months are, of course, the brainchildren of marketing geniuses, such as the National Onion Association’s promotion of National Onion Ring Day. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who came up with National Froot Loop Day, National Oreo Cookie Day, National Frozen Food Day, National Tater Tot Day, National Barbecue Month (not to be confused with National Hamburger Month) and National Iced Tea Day. Let’s not forget National Popcorn Day, especially if you’re at the movies. Just to wrap it up, there’s National Dessert Day.

Some, like International Talk like a Pirate Day, are all about fun, shiver me timbers. Who can complain about Date Your Mate Month, Aquarium Month, Candy Month, Dairy Month or Rose Month?

There’s something for everyone: Go Fishing Day, International Panic Day, not to be confused with International Picnic Day, National Splurge Day and International Sushi Day. I’m not sure how one upgrades from National to International; maybe there’s a National Upgrade Day.

I can certainly get into Man Watcher’s Day and possibly Peculiar People Day. Who can argue with National Hugging Day, National No Housework Day, National Goof-Off Day, and, depending on my mood, National Be Nasty Day? I’d be interested in meeting whoever came up with National Multiple Personalities Day and Everything You Think is Wrong Day.

National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day speaks to me because I’m owned by a cat. National Play God Day and National Tell a Lie Day are disturbing, but I’m intrigued by National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day.

One problem with these “days” is that I sometimes feel like I’m supposed to do something about the subject in question. If a disease awareness day teaches me something or motivates me to donate, that’s a good thing. Feeling obligated to eat a donut on National Donut Day is not. I would need a National Break Your Diet Day (not yet on the National Day Calendar).

Some national days are born from whimsy, and I admire those who know how to manipulate social media enough to make them go viral. Like whoever started National Bubba Day to celebrate those lucky enough to be named Bubba. Among my favorites is Accordion Awareness Month created by a professional accordionist just because. Yes, with enough effort you can start a National Something Day, too.

There could come a day when day-naming inclined people will simply run out of ideas. Then maybe we’ll have National National Day, National Nothing Day (oh, wait a minute, there is a National Nothing Day), National Day Day or, perhaps, National Leave Me Alone Day. I thought of National Snapchat Day — as soon as you are aware of it, it goes away — until I found out Snapchat info can be saved. Oh, well. Perhaps in the near future there will be National I’ll Bet You’re Sick of These Days Day. Day, month or year, I’m all for it.

— Ann Green

Ann Green is a freelance writer, editor, PR consultant and tutor.

Reflections of Erma