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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.




    It’s been a long time since I was invited to a birthday party for a two-year old. The little fellow was very polite as he greeted each guest. He didn’t even grab the gifts.  Of course he looked spiffy for the occasion. He was so delighted when his brother arrived, and the little tykes ran around, and around the room.  

    The adults played Trivia, and I won a bag of candy when I answered the question, “What was the dog of Chinese Royalty?” The answer:  “Pekingese.” Of course, those dogs must have been named after Peking.  Was there a Emperor named “Pe?”

    After the game, we called the little fellow to come into the room so we could sing, “Happy Birthday” to him, and then we ate little cupcakes. He didn’t get any!

    Oh, I forgot to mention that “Murphy” is an English Spaniel with long eyelashes and longer silky ears. He also has a pedigree. I think that’s like a degree from Cambridge. I don’t know if he has an English accent, because I didn’t hear him bark.

    And, how good would you be at “Doggy Trivia?”

    Woof!  Woof!  Gotcha!

    Esther Blumenfeld



    Some adventures, when living in the desert are more fun than others.  All I was doing was standing in my backyard, when, out of the crushed rock, a critter climbed onto my left foot and took a quick nip of my toe, which obviously looked very delicious to him, and then he disappeared.

    The bite didn’t hurt, but when I went into the house, and removed my shoe, my toe looked like a big red strawberry, with blisters, that was crying out for professional help. Of course, everything like that screams out for a doctor on the weekend.  Immediately, I washed off my toe and took a Benadryl, which made me loopy, so I went to sleep.

    The next morning, my blistered toe still didn’t look very appetizing, but I figured I’d wait a day, and then go to the doctor’s office on Monday. After all, it was just a toe, and probably a wayward ant that wandered out of his nest. The nurse took one look at my foot and said, “That was no ant. Something poisoned you!” Wow!  She then told me to soak my foot in baking soda and water, and keep my toe dry. She also told me to stop applying the anti-itch cream that I had slathered on the toe.  Just “soak and dry.” I was ordered to treat it with an oxymoron.

    Happily, she said it was not infected, but prescribed a big pill for a few days.  I said, “Are there any side-effects?”  And, she replied, “Sure. All meds have side-effects.” That made me feel much better.  

    I went home, soaked and dried and took one of the pills and went to bed.  And, then, I dreamed that there was a big boulder sitting on my chest. I woke up suffering with heart burn that radiated into my jaw. Never felt anything like that before, but it did take my mind off of my toe.

    The first thought that came to me was, “Oh, Lord!  I am having a heart attack.” Then, I thought that before calling 911, perhaps I should read the, “All meds have side-effects”, pamphlet that was written in teeny-weeny print.  After finding my glasses, the first thing that sprang off the page was, “GANGA INDIGESTION!”  (I made up the Ganga part).  But, sure enough, after taking a Pepcid, the boulder rolled off my chest.

    The next day, I called my super-duper pharmacist to see what he might prescribe for my blistered toe. After he heard my sad tale he said, “Sounds as if a spider got you.  Just soak the toe and keep it dry.” I learned that desert  pharmacists also like to treat ailments with oxymorons.  

    So, I am soaking and drying and avoiding looking at my poor, blistered toe.  However, next time I venture into my backyard, I am wearing combat boots.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    In 1906 Helen Gale McKennan willed $25,000.00 to fund a new hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Recently, McKennan Hospital was hit by a tornado in honor of her middle name ( I made that last part up). Fortunately, no one was hurt, although patients had to be evacuated.

    McKennan happens to be the hospital where my brother, David was born 74 years ago.  I was 9-years old, waiting at home for the news, when Dad called, and excitedly said, “Esther, you have a baby brother,” I replied, “Goody! Goody! Is it a boy or a girl?”

    A couple of years later, I took my little brother, in his stroller, to McKennan Park. NO! everything in Sioux Falls is not named McKennan.  Anyway, after playing on the swings, monkey bars and slides (those were the unsafe but fun days) it was time to go home. I put my protesting brother back into the stroller, and we started to leave the park—as the wind whipped up. Suddenly, the sky and the grass turned an eerie brown, the birds stopped chirping, and the wind abruptly stopped. I knew that something was terribly wrong, and started running into, what was now, a wall of wind. As we got to the house, our worried Mother threw herself against the front door (from the inside) because I couldn’t open it and hang onto my little brother at the same time, as we were blown into the living room. To this day, I remember the force of that storm, and the sight of seeing a big tree sticking out of the side of our neighbor’s house.

    That was a long time ago.  Our parents are now deceased, but once a year, when my brother and I get together, I can see Mother’s sparkle in his eyes, and enjoy the same sense of humor that he inherited from our Father. We laugh a lot sharing childhood memories that go something like this:

    “Esther, do you remember that Mom used to like moving furniture around, and one night Dad came home, threw himself into the bed and landed on the floor.”

    “David, do you remember when you tried cigarettes, and you were smoking in the bathroom, and  you opened the window so you wouldn’t get caught, and Mom was picking flowers under that window.”

    Oh, the memories. Dad was asked to conduct a funeral of a woman, who had lived a long life with the object of making everyone who knew her miserable. I said, “Dad can you find anything nice to say about her?”  “Yes,” he replied. “She made good chicken soup.”

    Our Father died 15 years ago this month, so the looking back that my brother and I share is very near and dear.  Our parents didn’t have an easy life, but our home was filled with love and lots of laughter. One day, Dad saw Mother standing in front of a mirror swiping a hemorrhoid suppository under her eyes. He said, “Dear, what are you doing?” She replied, “This is supposed to reduce the puffiness.” Whereupon, he replied, “Sweetheart, I think you are using it at the wrong end.”

    I remember, David and a little pal climbing into our Grandmother’s apartment window, and eating the cookies she had baked—just to show her how to prevent future burglaries.

    One day, our Father was in his study when he hear a commotion in the Congregational Sanctuary. He saw a little boy running around and around. So,  Dad spoke into the pulpit microphone and said, “No running around in God’s House!”  Later, that little boy proudly said, “Rabbi, God spoke to me!” I am sure that the kid became either a rabbi or an atheist.

    Our Father was a man who had friends of many faiths. In his retirement, He and my Mother moved to a senior residence in Tampa, Florida, that was under the  auspices of the Episcopalian Church. When one of their friends, who lived there, died, our Dad was the first one to offer solace to the grieving widow.  He took her hand, and said, “Martha, would you like
    me to say a prayer for you?” She replied,  “Karl, you know that I am an atheist.” He replied, “I could say it,’To Whom It May Concern.’”

    Sweet memories reinforce the knowledge that —people die—but love lives on.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    “People waiting for an elevator don’t know what to do, standing with strangers. There is nothing to do. It’s an uneasy time. Some press the button repeatedly as though it would help.” (Andy Rooney).

    In the 1960’s, a scientist named Edward Hall founded the field of proxemics, the study of how people use personal space as a form of non-verbal communication. However, there is almost no personal space on a crowded elevator.

    When I was a very little girl, I got on an elevator with my Mother. We were pushed to the rear, as other people got on. All I could see was the back of people’s knees. When the down elevator finally stopped, I hung on to the bottom of my Mother’s skirt as we got off. Then, I looked up and discovered that I was hanging on to the wrong skirt. I didn’t even know that woman!

    Of course, that was not as bad as the time when I saw my first escalator in Kansas City, Missouri. I stood transfixed at the bottom of the escalator as I watched my absent-minded Father ascend, and then disappear. I went to a saleslady and said, “There’s a very worried man lost up there somewhere.” She made that announcement on the Department Store intercom. I was right!

    But this is a story about elevators. A recent study by the Thyssenkrupp Elevator Company claims that “seven billion elevator trips happen everyday.” I guess that is one time you can get some peace and quiet for at least 30 seconds—unless a chatty person gets on and starts talking. One way to avoid this is to push the close button immediately as you get on the elevator. If people yell, “Hold it!” hold the close button and shout back, “Oh, I am so sorry.”

    Good elevator etiquette is that everyone should face the front. One time, in Las Vegas, my husband got on a crowded elevator. He was the last passenger on. Facing all the people, it was so crowded that he couldn’t turn around, so he said, “We have to stop meeting like this.”

    When getting on an elevator, it’s a good idea to stop your conversation with another person, until you exit the elevator and can resume talking about whatever you were talking about. If you carry on a conversation, everyone can listen in. A person can pretend that she  isn’t eaves dropping, by looking intently at her cell phone. You don’t even have to turn it on—just stare at it.

    If you have pushed your way to the front of an elevator, you most probably have to step out to let people off, and then step back in again, if the people on the elevator let you.

     In a full elevator, take up as much space as possible so some big guy won’t squeeze in and set off an alarm. The alarm usually sounds like, “There’s no more room.Take the next one!”

    When there are only two of you on the elevator, stand on the opposite side and don’t stare. Smiling might be okay unless you recognize the other person from his photo on the post office wall.  The joy of having an elevator to yourself can be ruined when you realize that some obnoxious kid has pushed all of the buttons, and you have to stop at every floor on your way up.

    Some people fear getting stuck in an elevator. If that happens, Daniel Handler suggests that: “Everyone should be able to do one card trick, tell two jokes, and recite three poems in case they are ever trapped in an elevator.”

    The best advice I can give you when getting on an elevator is, “Don’t be surprised to see people getting off.” And, if you get off on the wrong floor, wait for the next elevator. You really don’t want to face all of those people who think you know what you are doing.”

    And, when you get to the top floor, send the elevator down for the next person. Then, you don’t have to be nice for the rest of the day.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    One of my favorite quotes from Dave Berry is when he describes how he finds a parking space in a mall at  Holiday time: “We traditionally do this in my family by driving around a parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2000 years ago, followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.”

    My dear husband, the scientist, used to say, “Some things are not probable, but anything is possible.”  I thought of that when years ago, in Tangier, Morocco, I saw a camel parked at the curb behind a Mercedes.

    I wrote this story when I took my little Saturn into the shop for its regular check-up. It has been my faithful mode of transportation for 15 years, and since I don’t drive far and wide, its mileage record is about as good as mine. Consequently, since the mechanic always says, “Don’t get rid of this car. They don’t make them like this anymore,” I plan to follow his advice, and one of the best ways to do this is to find a safe parking space—away from other cars. Unfortunately, that’s like putting your blanket on an empty beach. Some nincompoop will always park her blanket next to mine. So, if isolation doesn’t work, I like to park next to the newest, most expensive car I can find in the lot. Then, obviously, no one will be tempted to steal mine.

    I often ask myself, “How hard is it to park a car?”  Obviously, it’s a real challenge for some people, for whom one parking space just isn’t enough. They are compelled to occupy two parking spaces, because they think that the white line in the pavement is supposed to run under the middle of their car. That’s two spaces gone.

    Then there’s the guy who just has to park across a pedestrian walking path. I actually like that, because it gives me the opportunity to leap frog over the hood of his car. For you conspiracy theorists, surely there are two owners of huge SUV’s who are competing to see who can park as close as possible on either side of your car. The winner makes it totally impossible for you to squeeze into the driver’s seat, and makes you feel guilty that you ate that ice cream cone.

    It’s bad enough when someone who isn’t handicapped claims one of those spaces, but it is worse when that driver executes a crooked parking job to confirm the fact that she really is challenged.

    My strangest parking experience occurred several months ago when I went to a movie with my friend, Jane. When we came out of the theatre, neither one of us could remember where she had parked. I suggested, “Jane, push the alarm button on your key chain. The car will let you know where it is.”Sure enough, She pushed the button and the horn started blaring. Problem solved! We followed the beeps and found her car—or so we thought. She pushed the button to stop the noise, but nothing happened. The horn kept blasting. Then we discovered that the noise wasn’t coming from her car. She had pushed the button and set off the horn of another car. When we finally found her car, it was parked several lanes away. As we drove off, the other car was still causing a ruckus. I hope it’s still not doing that.  It was terribly annoying!

    Two of my least favorite parking experiences are:

    finding a parking spot, getting out of the car to run a quick errand, only to come out of the store and discover a big truck double parked blocking my exit, and,

     driving around the inside of a parking garage to finally find a parking space in the darkest spot in the garage, and none of the spaces are numbered. Saying to myself, “I am in Block B, on the 4th Level, next to the red convertible is a big mistake, because by the time I return, and look for my car, a big junker has taken the space of the little red convertible, and is hiding my car— and Block B is a mile long.

    Before concluding, a word needs be said about parallel parking. It can be done in 4 easy steps:

    “Pull up next to the car you’re going to parallel park behind. Align your rear axle with that car’s bumper. Turn the wheel toward the curb at full lock.Back up until the center of your inside rear tire aligns with the street side edge of the forward car. Straighten wheel, continue to reverse. When your outside tire aligns with that same edge, turn the wheel the other way.” Do not take the paint off of the car (eventually)  parked in front of you!

    “On the wall at the rear of a lot was a sign which read,  ‘Municipal Employees and Municipal
    Business Only. Please Respect This Parking Lot.’ Only in Nevada would someone ask you to respect a parking lot.  In New York the sign would read, ‘Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Stolen And Their Owners Eaten.”’ (Stephen King, Desperation).

    Esther Blumenfeld