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Exiting Brexit — 10 ways for the UK to offset leaving the EU

Paul_Lander(This piece first appeared in the Huffington Post. Reposted by permission of the author.)

A Reverse Mortgage for Buckingham Palace — Nothing will put a smile on those Buckingham Palace guards more then knowing their paychecks won’t bounce.

List Scotland on EBay — Kilts, bagpipes and, if you “Buy it Now,” Sean Connery will tape your phone machine message. Hurry before the EU beats you to it.

Adele is now available to play weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, Sweet 16s. “Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like me to sing at your event.”

Tour Liverpool with Pete Best — Enjoy historic, scenic Liverpool with one-time Beatles’ drummer Pete Best. What fun and, if you think leaving the EU sucked, hey, you’ll be reminded that it’s still not as bad as leaving the Beatles.

Photo op with Keith Richards — Have your pic taken with the Rolling Stones legend. It’ll be worth every pence spent and, face it, everyone looks smashingly well when standing next to the legendary guitarist.

Denny’s Wimbledon — Who better company to sell the Wimbledon naming rights to than the home of the “Grand Slam” breakfast. Not only will it pay for the tourney, but also be a reminder that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

Make riding London’s The Eye ferris wheel over and over again mandatory — Not only will it fill the national treasury but ride it enough times and you’ll have that going-around-in-circles, nauseous feeling…much like the UK the morning after the vote.

Royal Shakespeare Theater’s Put Your Name in a Shakespeare Play Sale — Big bucks for changing King Lear to, for example, King Larry from Paterson, New Jersey. Or, lesser bucks, for Hamlet to proclaim, “Alas, poor Gunter from Dusseldorf! I knew him.”

Air2nb 10 Downing Street — What better way to spend time in London than at the Prime Minister’s flat. And, with no other actual employment opportunities, there’s a good chance you’ll get a “cheerio” with your morning Times of London or Daily Mirror from former Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Sharon who will be there to serve you tea and leftover humble pie.

Replace the double decker buses with Le Cars — Not only will the savings on petro be enormous, but every time a bus goes on its route, it’s a potential world record for stuffing people in a mass transit vehicle. Win-win.

— Paul Lander

Paul Lander is not sure which he is proudest of — winning the Nobel Peace Prize or sending Sudanese peace activist, Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim, to accept it on his behalf, bringing to light the plight of central Africa’s indigenous people. In his non-daydreaming hours, Paul has worked as a writer and/or producer for shows on ABC, NBC, Showtime, The Disney Channel, ABC Family, VH1, LOGO and Lifetime. In addition, he’s written stand-up material that’s been performed on “Leno,” “Letterman,” “Conan” and “Last Comic Standing.” His humor pieces have appeared in Huff Post Comedy, McSweeney’s, The New YorkerSanta Fe Writers Project Journal, Humor Times, The Higgs Weldon and Hobo Pancake. In 2015, he placed second in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ annual column contest in the online/blog/multimedia category for his pieces in Humor Times and was named the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop’s “Humor Writer of the Month.”

Thongs, briefs and the undies in between

Amanda PalermoMy husband was at work for the day and I was home alone with the baby. She was asleep and I took the opportunity to take a shower and attempt to shave both legs and at least one armpit.

I had two thoughts going through my head while the water was running over me: 1, I hope she is still asleep and didn’t manage to sit up in her crib for the first time while I am in this shower and 2, I am absolutely putting on my enormously oversized, white, cotton panties when I get out of this shower and I am going to thoroughly enjoy it.

And I did. I checked on the baby; she was sleeping sweetly, so I skipped into our bedroom and opened the drawer that contained my three pair of brief-cut underwear that I purchased specifically to wear after my planned C-section. When my cousin advised me to get some before the surgery, I told her, “Okay, but I am going to have to Google ‘brief-cut’ because I have no idea what you’re talking about.” After my Google images search of this world of underwear that had previously been unbeknownst to me, I found myself walking sheepishly down the aisle in the store where these frighteningly large pieces of undergarments were apparently sold to the general public.

I bought them, I wore them, and I fell in love with them. After my beautiful baby was born, I healed well, but it is more than safe to say that I milked wearing these wonderpanties for quite some time post-partum. Let’s be real, no one was trying to sneak a peak at what I had going on under my also-oversized sweats that I wore every day for about seven weeks. (Okay, in full disclosure, I rotated between at least 2 pair of sweats).

Some time passed and I started to feel a bit more like myself. I wanted to wear my regular yoga pants and my pre-baby jeans, and well, the briefs were just not fitting under those the way underwear should.  The waists were too high, the lines were embarrassing, and they were bunching up in the wrong places. So, down they went…all the way to the bottom of my undies drawer, and out came my oldies that were nearly a fraction of the size.

They stayed there for a few months until that day when I was in the shower lathering some more coconut oil on my six-month, post-partum, tender, keloid scar and all I wanted to do was indulge in some serious underwear comfort.

That morning, I adorned a pair of these gems and an oversized tee-shirt and proceeded to take care of the baby, wash the bottles, change the diapers, clean the toys, clean the dishes, put away the laundry…and then of course clean more dishes.

I didn’t pick one wedgie. I didn’t viciously scratch my scar through any irritating lace. I didn’t worry about ruining another pair of lightly colored underwear because, well, there was enough room for a pad. Imagine that?

I was torn. On one hand, my old lace thongs represented a piece of me that felt like my body and my life might be “going back to the way it was” pre-baby. On the other hand, the briefs represented the side of me that both knew and accepted that things would never really quite go back to the way they were.

I decided to find a new, happy medium. I went out and I bought brand-new, black, cotton underwear of all different sizes, some with more coverage than others. These undies represent this new chapter of my life: thirty, mommy, comfy, and, yes, even sexy.

So, to all the mommas out there, I urge you all to wear whatever underwear helps to make you feel like the very best version of yourself, whether that’s a hot pink thong white grannie-panties, or something in between.

And the next time you find yourself in just a shirt and underwear (because you didn’t have the time or energy to put pants on, of course), and you’re standing in the kitchen washing what feels like the 837,275th dish of the day, I hope you think of me.

— Amanda Motisi

Amanda Motisi is a new mommy, wellness blogger, health coach and teacher.

Why I’m not a vegetarian

KennyBVegetarianism seems to be in vogue. I don’t know about you, but if I can’t come by something honestly, I want no part of it. If others want to go for it, possibly even to the extreme of becoming vegans, that’s fine with me as long as they don’t look down upon me.

Let me tell you why I don’t deserve to be shunned.

Aside from the fact that cows are made of meat and, therefore, are, by definition, food, I can think of a few other reasons not to be a vegetarian. The first one that comes to mind is rather philosophical: to eat animals is to honor them. I’m not going to blow smoke up your ha-ha and claim some Native American-like belief in the spirits of animals. No, my honor system is this — the animal is dead; it’d be a real waste if someone didn’t eat it. Might as well be me. True, many food-bound animals are treated cruelly, and for that I feel bad and will gladly support efforts to lessen their suffering. But shouldn’t we also feel bad for an animal that suffered for nothing? I feel bad, therefore I eat.

What about the fact that animals eat other animals? Have you ever seen a cheetah racing 70 miles an hour toward a head of lettuce or a chunk of tofu? I’ll bet not. That’s because cheetahs eat animals. And not unlike their human counterparts, they inflict a certain level of pain and suffering on their poor prey. But don’t think for a second that the cheetah is having some sort of internal debate with itself on the pros and cons of a meat-based diet. He’s just running his ass off and licking his chops at the prospect of eating literally blood-rare steak! No bourbonnais sauce, no side of potatoes, no nothing. And if you’ve noticed in those documentaries showing the cheetahs in chase, they almost always go after the babies. My God, they’re savages. But that’s nature and nature’s a beautiful thing. It’s the Circle of Life, for crying out loud. No less than Sir Elton John said so.

Now just because I relish meat doesn’t mean I’m insensitive. Look at a cow, really look at one. Those things are butt ugly and misshapen, and the way they chew their food and stand around in ankle- deep mud is just repulsive. They flat out deserve having their meat eaten. Bunnies, kitty cats, lambs, even baby elephants, on the other hand, my goodness they’re cute. How can any sane human, other than one in true dietary need, argue that it’s okay to eat them? I’m just sensitive that way. And besides, there isn’t very much meat on bunnies.

So you see, it’s perfectly okay to be a meatatarian. Just don’t waste the meat, don’t eat baby animals, and above all, enjoy your meal, following it up with a nice dessert if possible. It’s the least you can do to pay homage to Mother Nature’s food chain.

— Kenny B

Kenny B is founder and editor of the comedy site His features have appeared in the British Comedy Guide and Interrobang.

Nature walk

Mari' EmeraudeOnce upon a time, I thought it might be a great idea to wake up and take a long, quiet walk by myself. Living in Washington state, I always thought this was the closest to paradise I had ever seen. The endless beauty of the lush green trees, dense foliage and crystal clear water made it too beautiful a sight to enjoy from indoors.

Since it was the weekend I figured my husband wouldn’t mind staying with the kids for about half an hour while I strolled off my myself. I wanted to be as discreet as possible when I snuck away so the children wouldn’t hear me leave, otherwise they’d want to go. I motioned to my husband that I was going and waited until the kids were distracted by their favorite television show. I went to the front door, pushed open the squeaky screen and tip toed softly down the steps. Whew! I was home free.

On the other side of the street was a foot path that led straight into a small forest. I crossed the street and started down the lane that twisted and turned through the tall, thick evergreens. I took a deep breath and filled my lungs with the sweet scent of pine. As I walked a little further, I noticed my breathing becoming more labored. I began to breathe faster; then the familiar wheezing began to take over. I knew I’d forgotten something. I had to go back and get my inhaler so I turned around and headed back to the house.

As I stepped up to the front door, I cautiously opened the screen. “Squeaaakk” it announced as I ran to the front closet and grabbed my inhaler from my purse. I could hear the children walking through the kitchen towards me. I threw open the screen and dashed down the steps. I didn’t want to look back but I couldn’t help but glance over my shoulder. I could see the baby’s head just starting to appear over the back of the couch. The other kids were already assembled at the window with tears streaming down their faces. My daughter held her arms out to me and bounced up and down on the couch feverishly. My boys were crying “I wanna go with youuuu.” I took a few good puffs from my inhaler and started off again across the street before my guilt could catch up to me.

Halfway through the trees I began to cough and cough AND COUGH! My skin began itching and my eyes began to water. I could tell that my allergies were not going to let me enjoy my walk unless I took an antihistamine. As I made my way back to the street, I could see the children still at the front window. I ran across the street and slithered along the side of the house like a ninja. Getting up to the door I could see my husband walking into the room, so I put my finger up to my lips and mouthed the word “shhh!” and motioned for him to get the kids back into the other room. He had this look of bewilderment on his face as I started to open the front door again. I got to my purse and grabbed my antihistamines. I wasn’t going to chance getting a glass of water so I would just have to take them on the go. As I closed the door, I walked across the lawn and peered over my shoulder. There stood all the children, lined up on the couch again like little ducklings, all crying and sobbing for me to take them. My husband stood at the door and I could have sworn he was crying, too!

I began to really feel the tug of guilt, just leaving everyone like that. I thought I might just take a quick jog through the path and would come back early. It was already getting cooler. The sun was starting to disappear behind the mountains and I could feel the brisk air stinging my skin. I would probably need a jacket  now. Should I go back? Dare I continue on with the wind kicking up? I decided if I were going enjoy my nature walk, I would want to be comfortable. I opted to go back to the house one more time for my jacket.

As I approached the house, the kids were still standing at the window with tears streaming down their faces. Their cries grew louder the closer I got to the steps. My heart just melted. How could I leave them like that? I walked up to the door and they came bounding off the couch as if shot out of a cannon. “Mommy! Mommy! they all squealed, latching onto my legs. “Okay,” I said, “you can come, but you need to get your jackets and shoes on.” It took me another 15 minutes to find shoes and jackets and get everyone ready.

We all headed down the steps and as I looked back at my husband, there he stood at the window with a sandwich in hand, grinning from ear to ear. I muttered an obscenity as we all approached the forest hand in hand.

“Wait! Dina! Come back here! We’re all gonna stick together. No Danny! Get that out of your mouth, that’s icky! Cory! Put that stick down you’re gonna put your eye out. Stop fighting, Erin! You can BOTH have a pine cone.”

The birds flew off in terror as I screamed and yelled at the baby to stay away from the stream. Deer bounded away in droves and hid amongst the thickets as my voice echoed deep into the forest, barking commands at the older kids. I don’t know why, but at that very moment I wanted to go home, walk up to my husband and punch him right in the nose!

— Mari’ Emeraude

Mari’ Emeraude is columnist and poet from Denver, Colorado. She has written more than 200 pieces ranging from humorous blogs to poignant poetry and draws her inspiration from her four children and five grandchildren.

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

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.




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?”


“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?”


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 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 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:


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 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.

Reflections of Erma