Humor in All Things, Great and Small
Erma Bombeck Found Them All
The world lost a strong, clear–need I say, hilarious–voice when talented, syndicated newspaper humorist and best-selling author Erma Bombeck died in 1996. I chuckled, laughed, and cried at her humor for over 30 years.
- Why did Bombeck write housewife humor?
“Because being a housewife was the only thing in life I could discuss for more than 10 minutes.”
- What was the secret to Bombek’s success?
“My type of humor is almost pure identification. A housewife reads my column and says, ‘But that’s happened to me! I know just what she’s talking about!’ “
Bombeck’s slapstick humor was couched in housekeeping and family relations, but it was packed with wisdom. See if you don’t agree:
- Dirty ovens: “If it won’t catch fire today, clean it tomorrow.”
- Housework: “My second favorite household chore is ironing, my first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”
- More Housework: “Ironed sheets are a health hazard.”
- Marriage: “Spend Mother’s Day with your future MIL before you decide on marriage. If a man gives his mother a gift certificate for a flu shot, dump him.”
- Men and Football: “If a man watches 16 consecutive quarters of football, he can be declared legally dead.”
- More Men and Football: “Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-times take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.” (Tweet!)
- Miscellany: “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.”
- Motherhood: “My kids always perceived the bathroom as a place where you wait it out until all the groceries are unloaded from the car.”
- Sibling rivalry: “Who gets the fruit cocktail with the lone cherry on top?”
- Success: “Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.”
God seemingly blessed Bombeck with a bigger-than-life funny bone. Which begs some questions …
Did God give everyone a funny bone?
Can a funny bone break? If so, can it mend? And if it mends, is it weaker or stronger at the breaking point?
Why is one person’s funny bone sensitive to household humdrum–like messy bathrooms … child mishaps … grocery shopping … holiday messes … and all the rest–while another’s is annoyed?
Why is nothing funnier than words spoken when laughing’s not allowed–like church?
I don’t know. Do you?
I recall lots of laughter in college days over my pre-college days on the farm. Funny family names. Embarrassing mishaps. My naïveté. But I don’t remember ever laughing while cleaning a toilet bowl. Have you?
“Where does she come up with stories like these?” I’ve asked.
“Duh. From God, of course,” my wiser self has answered with an I-coulda-had-a-V-8 slap on the forehead.
P.S. I may be showing my age by bringing up Erma Bombeck, but–hey–why should someone approaching her 70th birthday care? If my mind had worked like Bombeck’s the past 7 decades, I would have cried less and laughed more. I want to laugh often in days and years to come, even if I must pull up an Erma Bombeck article.