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    Esther Blumenfeld  

    The purpose of this web site is to entertain.  My humor columns died along with the magazines where they were printed, although I cannot claim responsibility for their demise.  I still have something to say, and if I can bring a laugh or two to your day, my mission will be fulfilled.

    Everyone I know thinks he has a sense of humor.  Here is my unsolicited advice. If you try to be funny and no one laughs, don’t worry about it.  However, if you try to be funny and no one EVER laughs, you might have a little problem.

     

    Friday
    Sep222017

    PERIOD ROOMS NOT QUITE AS BIG AS COMMAS

    “One-of-a-kind, custom designed retreat for tall family. Ten-foot regulation ceilings, light switches in place for dramatic vaulting, MBA basketball embedded in living room fireplace, multilevel commodes, over-sized Jacuzzi, that can be converted into a garage. Sacrifice for quick sale by formerly famous retired athlete. For information, call Zelda Zigzaggle, the Million Dollar Club matchmaker of the really, really customized home”

    Some realtors specialize in homes so customized that a buyer has to be blinded by love for that particular house. They build reputations with whiz-bang ideas, and imaginative listings, that magnetically draw buyers to abnormal abodes. Their job is to convince a buyer that he really wants to be somebody else—the kind of person that fits into the house they want to unload.

    The really customized home is not an easy sell, but all a realtor needs is one buyer. For instance, Zelda proudly brags about the Andy Gustafson farmstead, now the Minnesota headquarter of the National Organization of Women.  “In 1888, Andy’s big boned daughter, Olga, gathered, lifted and cut the foundation’s boulders for the 22-room house all by herself, after pulling the family plow in the wheat field all morning. NOW liked the fact that she worked so hard to help her family, but it was the motto hammered above the front door that sold them: “Once you’ve done the groundwork, watch your buttress!”

    Several Zigzaggle houses have a historical connection. The Toll House, a simple frame saltbox in Indiana, originally served as a way station on the pioneer trail. Zelda said, “When the expressway came through the house in 1985, I convinced the new owners they could pay off their mortgage in six months. Collecting fees from the passing traffic, in their upholstered toll booth, wasn’t an inconvenience but a frontier tradition.

    A good realtor is always hustling for the next big sale, so Zelda sent this note to President Trump. “Mr. President, it’s never too early to scout out a retirement home. I have just the place for you. With your esteemed position and your history, you will feel right at home in my client’s revolving house on a pedestal. And in keeping with your domestic policy, the house turns 180 degrees every 24 hours. Well, I know you don’t want to be set adrift too soon, Mr. President, but remember that ‘Time and tide wait for no man.”’

    Zelda sold the Pendulous Mansion to a family, who decided to hang in there while their daughter moved in with them yet again until she found herself once more. She also said, “Of course I also handle homes for people with inordinately contemporary taste. Face it, most shoppers just can’t drive by a house coated with iridescent paint that glows in the dark. No fumbling around for keys at night with this one.”

    Two critical elements of real estate sales are: bagging the seller and razzle-dazzling the buyer. Also, a realtor should keep quiet when buyers and sellers accidentally meet, unless the seller puts a hammerlock on the buyer. Then the agent should say, “I hate to break this up, but we need to get to the next house before dark because the owner grows hair in funny places when the moon comes up.”

    And what about that custom home for sale by the formerly retired athlete? It turned out that a troupe of Bavarian tumblers was interested in the “tall family house.”  However, before making an offer, they needed to know how many trampolines could fit into that Jacuzzi.

    Esther Blumenfeld (Based on “Southern By Choice ” by Blumenfeld and Alpern, Column in ACCENT ON HOMES AND LIVING MAGAZINE, 1992 c. Blumenfeld)


    Friday
    Sep152017

    UP YOUR CHARISMA

    When you walk into a room does the conversation continue as if nothing significant has happened? Does the waiter skip you when passing around drinks? And when making introductions, does the hostess always go blank when she come to your face? If you answered “Yes,” to one or all of these questions, you’ve definitely got a problem. It’s high time to up your charisma.

    Charisma is that special quality that commands attention as you enter a room, that magnetism that screams out, “Here I am—-captivating, electrifying, scintillating—ME!” Some people, of course, are born with it. Some people are definitely hopeless. The great un-charismatic mass in the middle can be taught.

    There are four elements of charisma: attitude, speech, body language and friends. The Charisma Makeover is quite complicated, but the first rule is to think positively. Dejected thoughts produce poor posture. You cannot project animal magnetism while slouching. Eye contact is also important. There is nothing more disconcerting at a soiree than talking with someone whose eyes keep glancing over your shoulder. The solution is to only talk to short people. Back a short person into the wall, stand close and keep nodding. You are assured of undivided attention.

    Subtle allure is an effective charismatic style involving the adroit use of body language. Alluring persons never scratch, sneeze or mention bunions. To draw people to you magnetically, the best way is to sit down, sigh, and put your head between your knees. If no one notices this tactic, sit back and slowly begin to undress. If no one is still drawn to you, you might want to look around for a short person.

    There are two philosophies of Friend Selection among charisma educators today. The first school subscribes to the notion of surrounding yourself with other shining stars, known as Gilt by Association. Or, try  the Agnes Gooch Theory: Pick a mousy friend and you’ll fairly glow by comparison. Of course there is a drawback here: Your audience must be able to tell which one of you is Agnes.

    Here are a few more Do’s and Don’ts:

    Do dress for success. If you can’t dress for success, at least dress for trying.
    Do lean forward when talking to people, but beware that nothing personal falls out.
    Do spend five minutes each day in front of a mirror practicing your sincere smile. Then for three minutes a day work on the Empathetic Nod, the Knowing Glance and the versatile Wink-And-Grin.
    Don’t start a conversation with: “How long have you worn dentures?”
    Don’t talk about these three taboo subjects: odor-eaters, leg waxing, or bald spots.

    Finally, if all else fails, become filthy rich. Then you won’t have to learn charisma, you can just buy it.

    Esther Blumenfeld (Based on an article in ATLANTA WOMAN MAGAZINE, Feb. 1984, Blumenfeld and Alpern) c. Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Sep082017

    MENTAL BLOCKADES

    When my Father was 90-years-old, he telephoned me and said, “Something terrible has happened to me today.” Alarmed, I said, “Dad, what’s wrong?” He said, “I couldn’t remember someone’s name.” I told him that forgetting a person’s name happens to me all of the time, but that offered him no comfort at all, because he replied, “That does not happen to me!”

    I have a visual memory, and I have discovered that when I write a name on a sheet of paper, I can recall that particular piece of paper with the name written on it. However, when a stranger tells me his name, it usually enters one ear and exits out of the other one immediately—-especially when there are several other people involved in conversation in the room.

    There are many memory tricks that experts advise: “Repeat the person’s name as soon as you hear it.” That’s good advice, if you remember it that long. Another suggestion is: “Use association.” Associate that name with something familiar. Shakespeare might help. In Romeo and Juliet he wrote,”What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would small as sweet.” That’s okay unless you meet someone named, “Daisy,” and you call her “Rose.” Of course, Juliet mused that if only Romeo’s last name wasn’t Montague their lives would be less poisonous.

    Because I have a friendly nature and generally find people interesting, I tend to meet new folks every day. It is not only flattering, but also polite, to remember their names. I recently developed a friendship with a smart, talented woman who has a great sense of humor. I like people who laugh at my jokes! Her name is Gail. At the outset, in order to remember her name, I associated it with a former neighbor who was also named, Gail. However, she was such a trouble maker that her name should have been spelled, Gale!

    What is really embarrassing is when you forget the name of a good friend. It usually happens when you want to introduce her and say, “This is my dear friend____?” At that point, you must not exclaim, “Oh, Sh—t!” because that is definitely not her name.

    Sometimes, it helps me to work backwards by thinking of the last name first, such as “Dickens.” What the dickens was his first name? Oh, Yes! Charles. My consolation is that I always recall a name. However, it is most disconcerting when that particular name wakes me up in the middle of the night. Usually, that is the name of a famous person that I will forget immediately when I wake up the next morning.

    In the cartoon, PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, the little pig character asks the cartoonist for the name of a street. The cartoonist replies, “Gosh, I can’t believe that i can’t think of it. Guess I’m having a bit of a mental block.” Whereupon, the little pig replies, “Yours are more like mental blockades—-“

    While taking my morning walk,, I met a young woman who was walking her very nice, big dog. I remember that she had a German accent and told me that her name was “Greta.” Or, was that the name of the dog? Life can be so complicated!

    Esther Blumenfeld (“Names are a way to keep people in your mind.”) Maggie Stiefvater

    Friday
    Aug182017

    KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL

    KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL

    Last week, when I glanced at the Sports Page in the ARIZONA DAILY STAR, I was compelled to read an article about the Arizona Wildcats Basketball team, and their upcoming exhibition game in Spain. What drew me in was the article’s headline; “Trip not about whether Cats
    reign in Spain.” Headline writing can’t get much better than that!

    Of course, some nincompoop will write a letter to the editor complaining that the writer misspelled “reign.” If there was ever a photo, on the Sports Page, of a politician holding a big fish, I’d write a header announcing; “Everyone’s got an angle.”

    The second story on the Sports Page had this headline; “Day after win, Cards hunting for their rally cat.” Could not believe my luck reading two such clever headers. The story was about baseball, and that a stray cat had run onto the outfield at Busch Stadium, as the Cardinal bases were loaded. There were two outs and it was the 6th inning. Kansas City was leading 5-4 at the time. The game was delayed for a couple of minutes until a groundsman caught the cat. After play resumed, a grand slam was hit and the Cardinals won the game. Unfortunately a fan ran away with the cat.

    On the editorial page, I enjoyed the headline that read, “Trump and Kim are bullies with bad hair.”  I know that President Trump's sport is golf.  I don’t play golf, but I do know that golfers respect the game, play by the rules, are courteous and take care of the course.  Kind of like what it takes to be President.

    I just hope that Trump understands golf terminology.  I am sure that he knows the difference between an Approach Shot and an Explosion Shot, because if he doesn’t, it could ruin a game for the other players. Surely, he knows what a Bare Lie is, and how to keep Boundaries.
    Well, if it’s any consolation there’s always—The Bunker.

    Esther Blumenfeld  (A hole in one should be in a very small hole)

    Friday
    Aug112017

    NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

    As I get older, I have learned that it is probably futile to try to make sense out of the nonsensical. For instance twice a year, my automobile insurance company rewards me with a $25.00 check for my good driving record. As a matter of fact, this month my reward was raised to $27.00.  All was copacetic until I received the bill for my yearly premium.

    My insurance company had raised the price, and now I have to pay $120.77 more than I did last year. So, after I deduct my yearly $54.00 reward for good driving, I still have to pay $66.77 more in 2018 than I did in 2017. Consequently, I called my personable insurance agent and asked, “Why, with my excellent driving record, did the company raise my premium $120.77?”
    She replied, “Because you had a birthday.” “I had a birthday last year,” I said, “And they didn’t sock it to me then.” “Well,” she replied, “If, you are still driving in five years, the company will raise your rate again. They figure that as people get older, they are more accident prone because their reflexes slow down.”

    So, then, I said, “That’s age discrimination!” Sympathetically, she replied, “You are right, but all automobile insurance companies do that.” Feeling dejected, after my go around with my nice insurance agent, I decided to go to Trader Joe’s. That place never fails to cheer me up, and sure enough, I saw a sign that advertised, “Grass fed hotdogs.” I assume that hotdogs are now the new Miracle Grow for starving grass. Will wonders never cease?

    When I got home (sans hotdogs) my mailman delivered a letter from my Homeowners Insurance Company. It began, “Thank you for being a loyal customer. We’re happy to have you with us. Your bill should arrive in a couple of weeks.” That was the good news. The kicker came on the third page.

    “You may have noticed (you bet I did!) that we have increased your Dwelling Protection Coverage.” It’s called a Protection Insurance Adjustment (PIA) which “reflects changes in construction costs in your area.”

    Wow!  The estimated replacement cost of my home has gone up $12.00. No, I won’t call my insurance agent. She’s nice, but there’s even a limit to niceness. I would have asked my son, Josh about the nonsensical premise of this raise in premium, but the last time I asked him his opinion on an issue like this, he kindly said, “Mom, too bad it’s not rocket science, because that’s what I do.”

    I recently read a mystery book by Rex Stout called, SECOND CONFESSION. The book was just okay, but one line was memorable when the detective, Nero Wolfe, said, “You suffer from mental astigmatism.” I wish I had said that first.

    Esther Blumenfeld