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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
    Apr192019

    EVERYBODY IS SOMEBODY

    When crossing the street in New York City, I feel much safer surrounded by a band of strangers. When we get to the other side of the street, we pedestrians will separate and go our own way, Chances are, that I will never see any of these people again. But, for a moment, their presence, amidst the traffic, was comforting.

    My son, Josh lived in New York for a few years, and he cautioned me not to speak to strangers. He said, “Don’t even make eye-contact with them.” There was an article in the New York Times about a man who died while riding the subway. He rode for 45 minutes before anyone noticed. That involved no friendly words and no eye contact.

    Strangers on airplanes have often shared secrets and life stories with me—even when I have an open book in my lap. They know they are safe, because chances are that they will never see me again. They know that they don’t have to pretend, and can be exactly who they are.
    The thing is, that a person is a stranger, because you don’t know him yet, but once introduced you really aren’t strangers anymore.

    My mother-in-law had a friend who was waiting for her plane in the Chicago O’Hare Airport. She began to chat with a lovely young woman sitting next to her. Their plane had been delayed, so they were able to talk for some time. My mother-in-law’s friend really took a liking to this personable young woman. So, she said, “My son lives in Chicago. Would you mind if I gave him your name and phone number?” The young woman said that it would be okay with her. A year later, this lovely stranger became her daughter-in-law.

    Parents will caution, “Don’t open the door to strangers.” That is good advice, but nowadays the internet indiscriminately invites all kinds of strangers into our homes.

    My Aunt Ruth spoke to everyone. No one was a stranger in her life. One Sunday morning she took a walk in her neighborhood and noticed a  a very large, rather homely woman at the bus stop. The woman was  dressed for church. Aunt Ruth said, “You look so nice.”  At that, the big woman, with tears in her eyes,  gave Aunt Ruth a bone-crushing hug and replied, “Thank you! I have had a very bad week, and you made my day!”

    At the moment when bad news turns our world upside down, we are all strangers in a strange land, and a smile or kind word from another person can be life affirming.

    I like familiar strangers such as the people who work in all of the stores I frequent. I don’t know their names, but we recognize each other and exchange pleasantries. Sometimes, that is enough to turn a ho-hum day into something memorable.

    One Monday afternoon, I went to a really early bird matinee. I was the only person in the theatre. The lights were dimming when a woman and her young daughter entered the theatre. I said, “Sorry, this is a private showing,” and they turned around and started to leave the theatre. Then they stopped, turned around again and we all burst out laughing.

    I like making people laugh—even strangers.

    One evening, five friends and I were having dinner in a restaurant. We talked and laughed and had a really good time. When we left the restaurant, everyone went to their own cars. My friend, Paula and I were headed to her car when another car, filled with strangers, pulled up next to us. A woman pulled down her window and said, “We were at the same restaurant and noticed that all of you were having such a good time. Are you related?” I poked Paula and said, “Yes, She and I are sisters.”  “Are you also related to the others?” asked the woman.  “Yes,” I said, “We are all distant cousins.” She drove off, so pleased to learn that we were one big happy family.

    So, where’s the harm? For a moment, we weren’t strangers, and the world was a much better place.

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Apr122019

    SO SORRY

    No one likes to apologize, because it is an admission that you have said or done something unacceptable. An apology is also an acknowledgment that you are less than perfect, just like the rest of us. There are all kinds of apologies—-those given from the heart, the half-hearted, and the dim-witted ones. “Better late than never,” does not apply for an apology given to a dead person.

    Hugh Kingsmill said, “Friends are God’s apology for relations.” A good friend should accept your apology knowing that you would never intentionally say or do anything hurtful. It is always worthwhile to examine the source of the, “I’m sorry!”

    I am always willing to accept someone’s apology, but I also know that my response should fit the “My bad.” For instance, when a worker doesn’t show up at your house when expected, his apology is usually a lament over his wretched truck. A tweak to the ego may be appropriate saying, “I am so disappointed, I thought you could fix anything.”

    Some people apologize in a way that makes you feel that their mistake is  really your fault such as, “My dog won’t bite. Oh, he’s never done that before!” Then there is the “Schadenfreude” (sad/happy) apology. “Oh, I am so sorry that your team lost, and mine won, but after all, it’s only a game.”

    It’s always fun too look for the little correction box in the local newspaper, where the editor expresses regret for a printed error. For instance, “We inadvertently printed the name, ‘Bootsie, the Stripper’ under the photo of Reverend Mabel, of the Sacred Memories Church.”’

    It makes absolutely no sense to remain upset after a sincere apology. Why waste 60 seconds on anger when you can have 60 more seconds of happiness in your life? However, on the flip side, if your apology is not accepted by someone, who enjoys holding a grudge, I suggest you let them wallow and move on.


    Realizing that an apology is a good way to have the last word, I often, just can’t help myself.
    After a Presidential election, I was sitting at the Community Pool, when four neighbors entered the pool area and sat at an adjoining table. They were disgruntled and complained to each other about the results of the election. Finally, one of my neighbors, turned to me and apologized. She said, “Oh, I am so sorry!  I hope we didn’t offend you.” And, I responded,
    “Not at all. My guy won!”

    My favorite apology came from the Crystal Cruise Line. I received a call, and the person on the other end of the line said, “I apologize profusely. We double booked your cabin. Would you and your husband consider a penthouse cabin at the same price?” I replied, “Hang on, I will ask him.” I counted 1,2,3,4,5, picked up the phone, and said, “Yes, that will be acceptable. No harm done!”

    After the cruise, I considered that instead of  taking my clothes home, I should pack the Butler.

    It is very difficult, for me, when in a discussion, a person is not fact driven, but rather faith driven. In other words, “I don’t care about the facts, they are not true, because I don’t believe they are.” So, recently, in one of my classes, when discussing scientific research about climate change, the industrial revolution, the burning of fossil fuels, and the destruction of vast forest areas,  one of the participants said,  “I don’t agree with what all of these scientists are saying.”  Essentially, he was denying scientific evidence. So, uncontrollably, I blunted out—YOU ARE WRONG!  And, immediately, I was sorry. The words had just popped out of my mouth.

    So, later, I apologized to him, in front of the class. But, here’s what I said:  “I’m so sorry that I said “You are wrong, because you just might be right.” Whereupon, he replied, “And I just might be wrong.”  

    Bingo!

    Esther Blumenfeld (“I apologize when I’m wrong.”) Donald Trump


    Friday
    Apr052019

    THE BIRTH OF AN IDEA

    When my pencil rolled off the desk and followed me out of the room, I knew that I had procrastinated enough, and that it was time to sit down and finally write that story I have been mulling over. However, first I needed to take a hike in the mountains. Up and down the mountain paths is such good cardio-vascular exercise. How could I miss that!

    When I came home, I noticed some weeds in my front yard. Those weeds could be killer weeds, and definitely had to come out! When I finally opened the front door, a hornet accompanied me into the house. So, after trapping it behind a window shutter, I got out my central vacuum hose and permanently grounded the critter.

    While returning the hose to my bedroom closet, I realized that it’s been a very long time since I vacuumed under the bed, so I got down on my hands and knees, and did the dust bunny hop.

    That was a bit tiring, so I decided to make a relaxing cup of herbal tea, and while waiting for the water to boil, it was an opportune moment to check my e-mails.  Oops! my computer notified me that an out-of-town friend was celebrating her birthday, so I got my tea and called to sing her a birthday song, and have a little chat, before sitting at my desk to begin developing the idea for my story.

    I found a writing tablet and sharpened my pencil.  “Yes”, I still write my first draft by hand. Then I had to sharpen my pencil again. Those points always break before I get to the point.

    Oh, I promised a neighbor that I’d bake a banana bread for her party. It didn’t take that long to beat it up and stick it into the oven. While waiting for the cake to bake, I took a book of poetry off the bookshelf, read one poem. Then, I said to myself, “Boy, Am I glad that I didn’t write that!” Not because I didn’t understand it—-but because I did!

    So, I could write a story about how writers avoid writing, because it’s hard work—-Or—-I could wash the garage floor.

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Mar292019

    VINTAGE WHINE

    Ponce de Leon searched for the legendary fountain of youth. It was supposedly located in a land called Bimini. He never found it. Today, some people are flocking to Queens, New York enticed by the prospect of living longer.

    Dr. Alan Green has no fountain of youth, but he does prescribe two off-label drugs that he claims could possibly delay aging. George Burns said, “If you live to the age of 100 years, you have it made, because very few people die past the age of 100.”

    Although there’s little evidence that healthy people can benefit from his anti-aging remedies, Dr. Green (who is 76—going on 77) has taken the drugs for three years. The last doctor who experimented on himself was a Dr. Jekyll. As I remember, he developed a split personality and grew lots of hair after dark.

    I don’t know why some people consider aging as some kind of disease. Admittedly, although it’s not contagious, everyone seems to get it.  I’m not sure that aging really matters unless you are a rare cheese.

    In 2019 it is claimed that “80 is the new 60.” Pooh! 80 is 80 no matter how you cut it, and no magic pill will turn back the calendar. Plastic surgeons can help a person defy gravity, and fancy face creams will lighten your wallet. To be extremely thin, a green kale shake for breakfast can make you nauseous enough to avoid further calories, but no matter what, with each passing day, we are all going to get older.

    People say to me, “You don’t look like 82.” What is 82 supposed to look like? I don’t know because I’ve never done it before. And, right now I am working on 83.  Too many people put so much effort in trying to turn the clock back, that they forget to enjoy today.

    Woody Allen said it so well, “You can live to be a 100 if you give up all the things that make you want to be 100.” We know that yesterday is gone, and even with a lot of planning we don’t know much about tomorrow, but we do know that today gives us the opportunity to plan to live as well as possible—to make the most of what we have with a positive attitude.

    You don’t have to go into space as John Glenn did when he discovered, “For all the advances in medicine, there is still no cure for the common birthday.”

    Might as well enjoy life while we can!

    Esther Blumenfeld


    Friday
    Mar222019

    WHAT A DEAL!


    How many times does a good friend ask you to spend a day in her garage? Well, it was a first for me. My friend, Paula, and I, have spent many enjoyable hours together. So, when she asked me to help her, and her daughter, Karen, participate in a neighborhood garage sale, I said, “Sure!” I really had no inkling what was involved, but I looked forward to spending time with Paula, and her daughter, who sends her MOTHER flowers on her OWN birthday. This is a young woman who could make a bundle giving a course on, “How to Avoid Being a Slacker Daughter.”

    Paula invited me to bring some items to sell, so I grabbed some nicknacks, and arrived at the garage at 6 a.m. to help set up.  The sale was scheduled for 7 a.m. and trucks started rolling up at 6:15 a.m.

    I quickly learned that for many people, “Garage Sale,” is just another sport. It’s not as violent as ice hockey—nor is it as benign as synchronized swimming. It was a windy day, so we set up in the garage. Early bird shoppers  look for specific items. They don’t want to chat!
    They want items such as yard tools and heavy duty equipment that works.

    One guy had a gleam in his eye when he picked up a set of extremely sharp knives. He said, “I know exactly what I’m going to do with these.” He turned to Paula, knives in hand, and said, “Can I get them for $3.00?” She quickly said, “Yes. Take them!” The look on her face made me think she would have paid him to leave.

    At 7 a.m., the people who enjoy human e-bay, began to arrive in their extremely expensive cars. These are folks on a treasure hunt, who have the insatiable desire to see what other people are selling that they don’t want anymore. I suggested that we put out a sign, “My Dreck Can Be Your Dreck,” but my idea was quickly vetoed.

    I learned that people go to garage sales for all kinds of reasons. Most of the time, garage sales are held by people with no sales experience, so people are looking for deals. I learned that if an item is priced for 50 cents, some fool will say,”Will you take 25 cents?” My reaction to that was,”No, but I’ll take a $1.00. These folks really like the “Free Box” and will take anything in there whether they want it or not.

    Other people like yard sales for the sociability. They get to talk to people who would, under normal circumstances, not even say, “Hello.” I sold 10 pairs of unused socks to a woman who showed me her bunions.

    Karen hung a necktie on the lamppost near the garage to garner attention to our sale. When the tie blew off the post, she picked it up, and asked a man,”Would you like to buy a tie?” Whereupon, he replied, “What! I’m not dressed up enough for your sale?”

    I thought it fascinating when another man whipped out his jewelry loupe to see if he could strike gold—-not at 50 cents a pop, he couldn’t!

    At noon we decided to pack it all in and shut down shop. In 6 hours, I had drunk 3 cups of Paula’s delicious coffee, made 3 bathroom runs and sold $31.00 worth of junk. Paula gifted me with a book on the Civil War and a unsold sunshade for my car.

    Don’t think I’ll ever do another garage sale, but the experience was certainly worth at least $5.00 an hour.

    Esther Blumenfeld