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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.




    As I am preparing for my sojourn from the neighborhood where I have lived for 25 years, so many of you requested that, if possible, I entertain you with more stories about some of the people who used to live here. Message received! So, here is the sequel to “Bon Voyage.”

    First of all, please understand that through the years, there have been many nice, normal folks who lived here. However, their stories are not nearly as much fun to tell.

    A couple with whom I was very friendly lived here for many years. He was a retired military pilot who fueled airplanes mid-air. His best friends were always former navigators, because he said that he always had a very bad sense of direction. His wife was a symphony violinist, and we enjoyed spending time together. We had much in common—-except our politics—but in the good old days that really didn’t matter.  

    After a Presidential election, I was sitting at the community pool reading a book, when she, and two other women, entered the pool gate and sat at an adjoining table. They complained bitterly about the outcome of the election. Suddenly, my friend, the violinist, turned to me, and said, “Oh! I am so sorry. I hope that we haven’t offended you.” Looking up from my book, I said, “Not at all. My guy won.”  In today’s political climate,  they probably would have drowned me.

    I was not at all friendly with the couple who bragged that they saved on their water bill by not flushing their toilets.  Her motto was, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.  If it’s brown flush it down.” I thought it totally uncanny, and took a perverse pleasure seeing the Roto Rooter Man at their home several times.

    Then there was the neighbor whose adult children decided to build a big boat in her front yard. The Association Manager told her that she couldn’t do that. When she said, “Why not?” He replied “Because we live in the desert, and you don’t have a dock.” He might not have been so flippant, had he known that she always carried a pistol in her purse. As a matter of fact, her second marriage wasn’t made in Heaven. It was made at a meeting of the NRA.

    Another neighbor had a husband who was a talented artist. His paintings and sculptures were truly beautiful.  However, sometimes he was overly enthusiastic with his brush. One afternoon, when she returned from a get-together with friends, she discovered that her beautiful mahogany breakfront had been painted a peacock blue with colorful designs. With great forbearance she said, “ I guess the chairs are next.”

    Many of the homes in my small neighborhood have matching house numbers such as, 10 Rd, 10 St., 10 Circle and 10 Place. When a substitute mailman takes over, the neighborhood marathon begins with people dashing about putting mail in the correct boxes. However, it doesn’t stop with the mail. One morning, I heard the sound of electric shears coming from my backyard. The gate was open and a little fellow was humming and trimming my bushes. I shouted, “Stop!” What are you doing?” He looked at me as if I were nuts, and replied, “Well, I am trimming your bushes.” I replied, “If you want to keep doing that, it’s okay with me, but you might want to do it at the right house.”

    A sweet lady who lived a few houses from me suffered from dementia. One day, her caregiver stepped outside for a smoke, and the sweet lady slammed the door behind her and called the police saying, “There’s an intruder in my house.”  Three police cars, an ambulance and a fire truck arrived.  Her daughter was called to provide identity, and I think the caregiver gave up smoking.

    Another feisty woman was in the hospital recuperating from surgery.  When the nurse didn’t answer the call bell, she called 911. After the hullabaloo and excitement calmed down, they took her phone away from her.

    One of the most colorful characters in our neighborhood liked her whiskey. I think it stimulated her already bizarre behavior. She had a little buck-toothed dog named after a Chinese Emperor. She hired an artist for $5000 to paint his portrait. Then, she had an unveiling of the painting. As we raised our glasses of wine, the artist unveiled his work with great ceremony. It looked like a little buck-toothed mutt to me. A few days later, the woman told me that she had to go to an oral surgeon to have a tooth removed.  I told her that I would drive her there.

    On the day of departure, she got into my car and said, “I am going to die!” She had convinced herself that she would not survive the tooth extraction. So, she handed me some paperwork. “What is this?” I asked.  She said, “It is my will, and tells you where to send my dog. The portrait goes to a doggy museum.”  I looked at her and said, “ I can promise you that you are not going to die.”  I figured that she would probably survive, and if not, there would be no recriminations. She lived long enough to write a novel, pay $25,000 to have it published, and drive around the Country trying to get bookstores to sell it.

    The lovely couple who bought her home decided to paint the walls, because they had been painted in  many different colors. However, when the former owner removed her wall hangings, it was discovered that she had painted the walls around the wall hangings, so, with the wall treatments missing the walls looked like a bad  case of the chicken pox.

    Then there was the guy who was a chef at a famous restaurant. He enjoyed swimming in the community pool, and also enjoyed showering in the outside shower in his altogether— removing his bathing suit. When he wanted to hang out with the neighbors, he meant it!

    Those were the days.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    I have lived in the same neighborhood, in Tucson, Arizona, for a quarter of a Century. In those 25 years, I have witnessed the moving-ins and the moving-outs of many homeowners. As a matter of fact, there are only two original homeowners—since the community was built—still living here.

    Now, it’s my turn to leave, and I am looking forward to moving, across the street, into Hacienda at the Canyon, a senior residence that has been under construction for two years now, and will soon be ready for occupancy—MAYBE! However, I don’t have a firm move-in date yet.

    Since it is getting very hot, and several neighbors are leaving for cooler climes, a lovely neighbor invited the entire neighborhood to her home to ostensibly “wish me well” before my (whenever they are finished building) move. I suspect that the large, enthusiastic crowd will really be celebrating that I am finally leaving.

    So, with wine, margaritas and snacks, I can’t help but remember the neighbors who are no longer with us, those who have moved on, one way or another, and now I can tell their stories.
    What the Hell! Time to let it all hang out before I get  out of Dodge! (Old cowboys know what that means.)

    I am not like one neighbor’s son, who converted to Buddhism, got married, and he and his wife moved to  separate monasteries. They then took a two-year vow of silence. Some honeymoon! However, on a positive note, I guess that the marriage lasted for at least two years.

    Nor, am I like the neighbor who moved away in the middle of the night, and illegally absconded with a twenty-foot tall, $2000.00 Saguaro Cactus. He also married a young woman who lived here. She had told everyone that she couldn’t stand to be near him, but getting close to his money was no problem. That marriage didn’t survive. Don’t know about the cactus.

    Then there was the parsimonious man who lived across the street from the pool and clubhouse. How cheap was he?  Well, he took showers everyday in the clubhouse to save on his water bill. He’d mosey over there wearing a fluffy, terrycloth robe, and wander home with a roll of toilet paper in one of his pockets. He once bragged to me that he had lent his daughter $10,000.00 for a down payment on her home, and he was only charging her 10% interest. This fellow had a wheelbarrow, and occasionally a few decorative rocks from our Community Front Entrance would show up in his front yard.

    When my husband, Warren and I first moved here, we invited a couple to our home for afternoon coffee and cake. As they were leaving, she said to me, “It was so much fun spending time with you both. I wish we could reciprocate, but we don’t have any place in our home for you to sit.” I thought that rather strange, until years later, when she gave me a tour of their huge house. She wasn’t kidding! There was no place to sit in that art gallery. They were both artists who dealt in Pre-Columbian art.  As I entered the home, scary masks leered at me from the walls. What should have been a living room was filled with sculptures, and there was a large, wooden canoe in the fireplace. Pottery covered a table. They had added a room for gigantic, soldier statues that reached the ceilings, and there was a room big enough for two moving vans. It was filled with paintings. I insulted the artist husband when I asked, “Do you sell your paintings.” He replied, “I don’t do that!” After looking at them, I understood completely.

    A new neighbor moved in a few houses away from me. I had not met her until one day when I went out to get the mail. Suddenly, I saw her striding my way, shouting, at the top of her voice, “Communists! Communists!” I looked around. Nope, I saw no Communists. So, I said, “You seem upset. Where are the Communists?” Turns out that she received a note from our Community Association President reminding her to put her car into her garage, so she concluded since we were infringing on her property rights we were all Communists. I told her to take it up with him, and I was just there to get my mail out of my box. I later found out that she had retired from working for  the CIA after she had jumped out of an airplane,  and I surmised that she was obviously, probably justifiably, a bit paranoid. Turns out that she was also a hoarder, and a few years later, when she died penniless, her house went into foreclosure, and crews of men came, with commercial dumpsters, to empty her once beautiful home.

    Then there were the neighbors who had 17 exotic birds flying around inside their house and pooping off the rafters. Another couple’s hobby was to back out of their garage and knock down their neighbor’s mailbox on a regular basis, until their insurance company refused to pay for one more time.

    My handyman was shocked when he was called by one neighbor to fix something and she greeted him at the door twirling, and saying, “I just bought this new skirt. Don’t you just love it,” but she wore nothing on top. She and her husband were nudists. Nice but naked.

    One of my favorite neighbors, a lovely lady named Nawana, decided to move into a senior residence.  Her kids came to help her downsize. They thinned out her possessions, and sold some of the furniture. When I next saw her I said, “Nawana, I thought you were moving.” “So did I,” she replied, “But when the kids cleaned everything out, my house looked so much better that  I decided to stay.” And, she did for several more years.

    That won’t be my story, but all of these people, over the years, have made this a neighborhood to remember. However, unfortunately, there are still many stories I can’t tell you.  Why? Because the blackmail is so extremely lucrative.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    When I was a student at the University of Michigan, I took a class in Political Science. A famous expert lectured to hundreds of students from a podium far, far away. The classroom teacher was one of his graduate students named Mr. Ogle, who was a bit cock-eyed. Mr. Ogle led the classroom discussions and administered and graded our exams.
    Our mid-semester exam consisted of one, very long, essay question, and we were allowed two hours to answer it.

    A few days later, Mr. Ogle called me into his office, kind of looked at me, and said, “This is the best answer I have ever read, but unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the question.” I replied, “I didn’t understand your question, so I wrote everything I know about the subject.” He kind-of didn’t look at me anymore, but gave me a B+. Consequently, I received a B+ from a guy who wrote a convoluted, questionable question.

    In Philosophy class, the graduate student also gave me a B+ on an essay I had written. When I met with him to protest the grade, and explain the essay, I realized that, from his blank look, he really didn’t understand what I had written, so I let it go. However, years later, I submitted the essay to a professional, philosophical journal and it was published. I assume he wasn’t the editor.

    In the first case, the question was hazy, and in the second case, the instructor was hazy. But in both cases, I was prepared! Frank Zappa said, “The mind is like a parachute—it doesn’t work if it isn’t open.” For me, it’s all about seeing and observing and hearing and listening.

    So, when I recently attended a three-man panel discussion, I was looking forward to learning something new about the subject at hand from three experts. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that only one person was prepared, the second person was off-subject and the third was somewhere off in La La Land. In a good debate, it is preferable to be able to debate on either side of an issue, but first you have to be on subject.

    Each man was asked to give a short introduction, One speaker spoke on point, in a few minutes. The second speaker was off subject, and rambled a bit. The third gave a long soliloquy about nothing. I felt like shouting, “Are you listening to what you are saying? Because no one else is!”

    The debate proceeded, and it was obvious that two of the panelists were unprepared, and thought they could wing it. One man told heart-warming stories that had nothing to do with anything, and  the man who loved his own voice kept disagreeing with the ONE man who was prepared..However he didn’t exactly understand with what he was disagreeing. He was also a paper flipper. He flipped his papers when the other two panelists were talking. He listened only waiting for his, “My Turn!” moment.

    Did I get anything out of this presentation.  You bet I did!  The off subject story teller, did tell a memorable tale about two little boys who were in an art museum. They wandered into the gallery of modern art and stood staring at an abstract painting. One of the little boys finally said to the other little boy, “Let’s get out of here before they think we broke it.”

    When the session finally ended, a confused audience exhaled in unison, gave a smattering of polite applause, and raced for the exit.  I did not fill out the evaluation form.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    It’s one thing to put my foot into my mouth. It’s something else when I can’t get it into my shoe. When I’ve  got my foot in my mouth, it means I’ve said something inappropriate. When my big toe rebels, it means the bone spur in my foot is making friends again with a nerve—-whom he lost touch with—-three years ago. It’s kind of like, after you think you’ve gotten rid of him, Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING, pops his head in an yells, “Here’s Johnny!” Not as scary, but exceedingly unexpected.

    The reflected pain inside my hiking shoe drove me to my computer. Perhaps, this time, I could find a cure less painful than a Cortisone shot. Although, it worked three years ago, it’s not the most pleasant experience.

    Here are some suggestions that Dr. Google gave me:

    Soak your foot in hot Chamomile Tea. He also recommended drinking Chamomile Tea, but it wasn’t clear if I was supposed to drink the tea water in which I was soaking my foot.

    2.  Bathe the foot in hot Epsom Salt water. However, nowhere did it say to drink the Epsom water.

    3,  Soak the foot with Borax dissolved in cool chlorinated water. I guess this is for people stuck in third world countries where it’s hard to boil water so chlorination is recommended. I think the instruction should have said, “Definitely, do not drink this!”

    4. Do low impact foot exercises.  It wasn’t clear if, at this point, I was to put my foot into my mouth.

    5. Swim!  This was not explicit at all!  I did not know if I was to put Borax, Epsom Salt or Chamomile Tea into the pool.

    6. Eat Healthy. I knew this wasn’t going to work at all.

    7. Massage area with extra virgin olive oil.

     That’s when the “extra virgin” part got me to thinking that maybe a guy wrote all of this advice just to get a date, and I decided that I needed to choose between my favorite activity—hiking in the mountains—or submitting to a Cortisone shot, which might serve me well for another three years.

    I took the shot like a big girl. The Podiatrist instructed me to ice the foot, and hold off hiking for a few days.  He cheerfully added, “If you need it, you can come back for a second shot.”

    At least he didn’t say, “Now, you can go to Viet Nam!”

    Esther  Blumenfeld.



    Honoring the saying, “You are what you eat,” I decided to prepare a super-duper salad for my dinner. With a nod to my vegetarian friends, it was truly a masterpiece of greens, and spectacularly colorful red, orange, and purple vegetables. I also added a handful of nuts, and to top it all off, I added a few grapes and an avocado.

    What a treat, until 2 a.m. when I woke up and my usually iron-clad stomach announced that I had swallowed a football. That could not be. Although I had thrown everything into my salad except the kitchen sink, I knew that pig skin would never pass my lips.

    I was feeling pretty awful (an oxymoron if I ever heard one), and for awhile I lay there trying to reason out why my body was rebelling. After all, I had eaten purely healthy food.  Not to panic! I knew the discomfort was situated much to low to be a heart attack, and that burping was not a symptom.

    Perhaps, I should not have watched CNN News while devouring my meal. Maybe, I shouldn’t have added irritating Presidential twitters to my salad. Well, it was obviously a case of indigestion, which is a very rare occurrence for me.

    I knew it was time to take something to relieve my discomfort, and remembered that I had some old Zantac somewhere in my medicine chest. I stumbled into the bathroom, but  really didn’t want to turn on the overhead light. I knew if I did that, I’d never fall back to sleep. The night light would suffice.  I pulled out several old packages of out-of-date cures for ailments I never had, but felt that I needed just in case.  

    Finally, I found the box of Zantac. I took one.  I didn’t care how old the pill was. I only hoped that my stomach would stop demanding attention and let me go back to sleep.

    I woke up the next morning. That was the first good news. And, the discomfort was all gone. I went into the bathroom and looked at the Zantac box. The pills had expired way back when, but as long as the expiration date wasn’t stamped on my stomach, I didn’t care.

    I kept the pills and threw out the rest of the salad. Had lamb chops, a baked potato and cooked vegetables for dinner. My stomach was very happy. Yes, I am what I eat.  So it goes.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“I have never developed indigestion from eating my words.”) Winston Churchill