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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.



    Linear Lunacy

    Waiting in line (on line, if you are from New York City) is one of my least favorites activities. But, sometimes, if you bide your time, the payoff can result in a delicious meal at a restaurant, or an entertaining movie without a car chase. However, standing in formation at the post office is as close to purgatory as I ever want to come. The reward for patience is negligible. No wine. No popcorn.

     I discovered that you should never go to the post office on a Monday morning, before April 15th, especially when there are five customer service windows, twenty irritated people in line, and only one traumatized mail lady assigned to service everyone. Standing in the middle of that group gave me the opportunity to observe the ensuing drama. The young woman at the head of the queue had a screaming child attached to her left leg. The child’s cries echoed throughout the building, and I learned that if you want people to allow you to go ahead of them, it’s smart to cement a wailing toddler to one of your appendages. 

    As luck would have it, the next person was an indecisive stamp collector, who, after a painstaking perusal of all of the stamps available, finally left, after purchasing a single stamp. Then a guy stepped up to the window carrying an odd shaped package. He was mailing it to his mother-in-law. It resembled either a machete or a baseball bat. Either way, he’d better never divorce his wife. 

    The next customer purchased a roll of “Hardly Forever” stamps, and then a man stepped up to the counter with a flat box that he proceeded to assemble, tape and address. An old lady yelled, “Step aside S--- H---!” and as the muttering crowd pushed forward, he complied. Everyone cheered when a second mailman appeared behind one of the counters, but he left posthaste because he had no change in his cash drawer. Then the phone rang and he carried on a jolly conversation. When he finally returned to the counter, he had to leave again to collect a month’s worth of mail for the next person in line. This was the final straw for the woman in front of me, who demanded to see a supervisor. 

    After impatiently tapping, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, on the counter with her blood red fingernails, she finally got her wish, and the supervisor reluctantly slunk out of his hiding place. He informed her that because of cutbacks, the Postal Service was understaffed, but she could fill out a complaint form. “While I am here,” she begged, “Can you help me send this registered letter?” “No,” he replied, “I don’t do that. I supervise. You will have to get back into line.” 

    Finally, it was my turn. My forms for the Internal Revenue Service were prepared, addressed, sealed and ready to send. The next day I tracked my package on its way to “Never, Never Land”. My IRS form had been picked up, confirmed and delivered to the wrong destination. April Fool!  It took a month, and several phone calls to get my package to the right destination, but my taxes finally got delivered to the IRS.

    I received a letter of apology from the U.S. Postal Service with a sheet of “Almost Forever” stamps. I think I will go to the grocery store, get in line and use a machine to check myself out. 

    Esther Blumenfeld (“The machine is broken. Get in line.”)


    In Stitches

    My friend, Pamela is a couturiere seamstress. In her studio, she creates masterpieces with her zillion-dollar sewing machine, and some of her fashions have been featured in magazines. Like all artistic endeavors, technique can be learned but talent like Pamela’s cannot. 

    Some people should never be allowed near a sewing machine. My mother, with all of her good intentions, was one of them. When I was in first grade, she made me two dresses. Although I was not usually a rebellious child, there was no way I would wear even one of those monstrosities in public. The left armhole and the right armhole weren’t lined up in the same place, so when I put a dress over my head, I sadly resembled The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Victor Hugo would have been proud, but those creations did not ring my chimes. Consequently, mother donated the dresses to the congregational rummage sale. 

    That year, the rummage sale was a huge success. Everything sold out---except for those two dresses. Dad finally hung them on our cherry tree. The birds were traumatized, and we were treated to several cherry pies. 

    Unfortunately, my sewing skills must be genetic. I don’t own a machine, but I do wield a mean needle for an errant button or torn seam. What I lack in talent, I make up with an abundance of gall.  Recently, I purchased a pair of large sized gloves for my small sized hands. They were on sale, but the color was right, and I figured since I couldn’t grow my fingers, I could shorten the gloves. The choice was to fake my sewing skills, or to purchase a pair of clown shoes to match the flapping fingers. I didn’t want to cut the tips off, because my hands were in the gloves, so I turned them inside out. I pulled the tips down and sewed them horizontally. Doesn’t everyone? 

    After I finished, I turned the gloves right side out. Unfortunately, now the tips were square. I created a drawstring for each finger and pulled each one to a bulky tip. Waa! La! The gloves kind of fit, and I don’t think anyone will ever notice that my fingers are shorter on the right hand than the left one. However, my observant son did call me, “Stubby.”

    I promise that Pamela will never see those gloves, because she would probably hang me from the nearest cherry tree. 

    Esther Blumenfeld (sew what!)



    Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

    Sometimes the unexpected presents a most pleasant surprise.  Friends I haven’t seen in a few years came to town to treat their daughter and two grandchildren to an outing at the Desert Museum. That evening when I met them at a nearby restaurant, and Grandma limped in saying, “I need a drink,” I knew it had been a long, exhausting day. 

    The grandson was six years old and the granddaughter was four. These children were either aliens from another planet, or actors hired for the occasion. They didn’t know how to whine, and no one had ever taught them to scream, run around a restaurant, or to interrupt a conversation. They behaved like regular people, and acted as if they were used to sitting at a table and not feeding at a trough. After dinner, this brother and sister shared a couple of books and appeared to like each other. 

    On the other hand, I recently attended a Bat Mitzvah (a coming of age ceremony) where a 13-year-old girl was given the honor of leading a religious service, after completing a year of difficult study. A large contingent of relatives attended from all over the country, and family and friends were thrilled to share this memorable event. 

    However, one member of the family forgot that her little girl was not the center of attention, and as soon as the service commenced, the loud crying, whining and tantrums began (from the child, not the mother). The Bat Mitzvah girl had the composure to ignore the child’s protestations, but I contemplated throwing a net over the annoying kid. Her grandfather traipsed up and down the aisle several times to call attention to the problem under the guise of helping, but the little girl screamed that she didn’t want him. She wanted her mother, who eventually carried her out of the sanctuary, and then brought her back. And, like a progressive rash, the out and back and out and back tumultuous procession continued until the service was over. 

    I don’t know which of the men sitting in that aisle was the father who had dropped the seed to produce this annoying creature, because no man stood up and admitted, “She’s my unruly brat, and I am stuck with her.” 

    Don’t get me wrong. I like most children. But, when I am sitting at lunch, at a lovely restaurant, looking at a lawn set up for a game of croquet, I don’t want to see children hitting each other in the head with a mallet, while their mothers nibble on finger sandwiches. Here’s a newsflash. All children aren’t gifted, no matter what their parents think. And, “No!” is a perfectly acceptable word.

    My grandfather used to say, “If all babies are sweet, where do all the obnoxious adults come from?” Think about it. 

    Esther Blumenfeld (sugar and spice)


    Wedding Jitters

    Recently, I received an e-mail wedding invitation from a young couple I have never met. The groom contacted me through his grandmother’s address book, which obviously hadn’t been buried with her when she died two years ago. The invitation announced that the wedding would be an “outdoor adventure” held in a cabin in the woods in a far, far away forest in Minnesota. A map was attached. 

    The couple suggested that after arriving by plane people should car pool because the cabin is difficult to find. “Do not plan to arrive after dark because the dirt road has pot holes and there isn’t much parking” was their welcoming message. They also added a postscript, “No gifts, please. We have everything we need. Cash will be appreciated.” I sent my regrets and a donation in their honor to an association for the mentally challenged. Whoever came up with the lame brained idea of “destination weddings” should be booked on a cruise on the River Styx. 

    A couple I know insisted they be married while standing on a boulder jutting out over the Grand Canyon. When the bride’s mother was asked to step closer to the edge, she looked down and fainted. I also missed the acrophobia wedding. 

    However, my husband and I did attend an afternoon, 110-degree, garden wedding in Yuma Arizona. When the usher inquired, “Are you on the bride’s side or the groom’s side?” My husband, peeled off his jacket and croaked, “The shady side!” Why in the world, would anyone think it romantic to get married in an oven? I can’t remember the last time I went to a wedding of reasonably normal people.

    There was the Blizzard In Indiana Wedding where the groom forgot the license, the bride forgot the cake, a busload of uninvited people from Detroit arrived, and the lights went out. We were all snowed in until the next day. That marriage didn’t last a year. 

    Then there was the revolving top of a hotel wedding in Atlanta. When I left the room to powder my nose, my table had spun somewhere else. I had to wait 20 minutes before it came back around. The dancers twirled one way---the room twirled the other way---and I ordered Dramamine for dessert.

    My least favorite destination was a wedding held in a Bayou. For those of you who don’t speak Southern, that means swamp. The young couple thought it would be romantic. The mosquitoes found it delicious, and the ants kept busy playing footsie with the guests. The motorboats drowned out the vows, and the reception involved some serious grazing because the couple practiced devout veganism. I finally understand why people cry at weddings.  It’s not the emotion. It’s the sunburn.

    Esther Blumenfeld (out of the quagmire and into the reception line)



    Speak American

    After driving around for an hour, a visitor to Boston finally admitted he was hopelessly lost. Seeing a gentleman standing at the side of the road, he stopped, rolled down the car window and said, “Excuse me, Sir. Can you please tell me where Commonwealth Avenue is at?” 

    The man sniffed, and replied, “In Boston, we do not end our sentences with a preposition.” “Sorry,” replied the visitor. “Can you please tell me where Commonwealth Avenue is at---you jackass”! 

    The English language is puzzlement, especially for those who were born here. Americans speak English as if we had inherited it from a King we didn’t like very much, and by gum, we are stuck with it, and we won’t learn another language come Hell or high water. Having to speak one language is bad enough! Europeans speak several languages, but that’s because when they cross the street they are in another country. 

    The other day, I surfed through Fox News on my way to CNN and heard a talking head exclaim, “Me and Jane enjoyed the performance.” When did Tarzan become a news anchor? 

    I’m not sure if the British do a better job with the language, but they make it sound so much better. A person from England might be the dimmest bulb in the chandelier, but that accent makes him sound intelligent. Forsooth, I keep waiting for Shakespearean sonnets when a Brit speaks. 

    People from India are experts in English grammar and speak the language perfectly, but unfortunately their accents are almost as difficult to understand as people who come from Toccopola, Mississippi. I had my ears tested after conversations with these folks. 

    Some Americans, who only talk “American,” want others to speak English exclusively. I, on the other hand, am in awe of someone who can switch flawlessly from one language to another. I tried to join their ranks by studying Spanish. Didn’t work out too well. Whenever I attempt to speak to Latinos, they fall to their knees, begin to weep, and beg me not to speak their language. 

    Of course, I could always travel north and learn Canadian.  “Eh?” 

    Esther Blumenfeld (etymologically challenged)