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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
    Mar042011

    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)

     

    Friday
    Feb252011

    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) 

    Friday
    Feb182011

    Be Nice

    Some congregations seem to attract an inordinate number of disgruntled people. When I asked my father, “Why is it that disagreeable people are attracted to those congregations? He replied, “When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they were followed by the rabble. Those people are decedents of the rabble.”

    Now whenever I meet an obnoxious person, I say to myself, “Aha! Must be a descendent of the rabble.”

    If you live long enough, you will experience the vicissitudes of life. So what makes some people spread sunshine in their path and others turn mean and nasty? 

    I think it’s early morning dog poop!

    A former neighbor named Clyde (not really, but he’s so mean he would sue me if I used his right name) was always in a foul mood. Early in the morning he walked an enormous dog named Pepper who would pony up a dump that required a small shovel. Clyde was a short man, so he didn’t have to bend far for the pick-up, but he proceeded to walk a mile carrying a plastic bag filled with Pepper poop. Maybe that’s a stimulating way for a dog to start his day, but certainly not for a half-grown man.

    Clyde had a vile temper and yelled at everyone who disagreed with him. If someone said, “Maybe, that’s not the case,” Clyde would blow up. One day it was my turn. I dared to ask a question, and Clyde began to shout. When he finished his tirade, I said, “Raising your voice, won’t make you any taller.” I hoped he would never communicate with me again. But, no such luck.

    Every morning, after that, when he saw me, he would wave Pepper’s filled bag of “The rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended a nostril,” (Shakespeare) in my direction. Only a descendent of the rabble would humiliate a nice dog like that. 

    Esther Blumenfeld (be a nicer person!)

    Friday
    Feb112011

    Talk To Me

    The day my son said to me, “Mom, no one uses that word anymore,” and I replied, “I just did!” was the day I decided that the art of conversation has gone the way of callused thumbs. 

    Tapping a text message requires no colorful language, no nuance and certainly no eye contact except with your cell phone. So, before all is lost here are some helpful hints for the conversationally challenged:

     It takes more than one person to have a conversation and,

    1. It helps if one of you has something worthwhile to say. “I just flossed my teeth” is not stimulating chitchat.
    2. Some people drone on because they find the sound of their own voice extremely entertaining. A drone is a pilotless missile.
    3. Silence does not always require sound. Pregnant pause does not necessarily require delivery.

    It seems as if everyone likes to talk, but few people listen. Maybe it’s because if you are the only one speaking, you don’t have to hear what the other person wants to say. Sometimes that can be a lifesaver, but listening can be illuminating. 

    I often go to restaurants by myself, and have decided that eavesdropping is okay if the speakers at the next table have turned up their volume. However, out of compassion, I did tune out one couple after the woman exclaimed, “It’s not the eggroll Harold, it’s our whole life!” Not sure I wanted to hear the rest of that. 

    Some people talk very fast. They are from New York. The rest of the world is not. Some people mumble. That is a great cover for being a teenager, not knowing the answer to a question or having a mouthful of pasta. 

    My last two hints for the conversationally challenged are: 

    1. Do not say, “Get to the point,” because you can’t assume that there is one.
    2. Don’t start a conversation with, ”How are you?” You just might find out. 

    Esther Blumenfeld (say what?)

     

     

    Friday
    Feb042011

    Come Fly With Me

    Every time I plan a trip overseas, someone asks me, “How long is the flight?” and I reply, “Depends on who’s sitting next to me.” It seems as if I always attract an inordinate number of talkers. I do not initiate conversations, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

    On a flight to London, I had earphones, a good book, and shades for my eyes. That should have been a tip off, but nothing stopped the wind-up chatty woman in the seat next to me. She talked, and talked and talked, and said absolutely nothing. When I said, “I’d like to read now.” She replied, “Oh, what are you reading?” and kept talking. She even drowned out the music on my earphones. Her lips kept flapping and created a breeze. Finally, I turned off my overhead light and said, “I’m going to get some shut eye now,” and she proceeded with a bedtime story of her life. She finally fell into a snoring sleep as we taxied down the runway at Heathrow. If I weren’t wearing shoes, I would have put a sock in her mouth. 

    The aisle seat is my favorite because I need to uncramp my legs, and I dislike crawling over people. When I boarded an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to New York, I was dismayed to discover that I had been assigned a window seat with two hefty seatmates in my row. The woman on the aisle had taken a sleeping pill, and the man in the center was dribbling an onion and garlic sandwich down the front of his shirt. I awakened the woman in the aisle seat, and told them both that I would be getting out of my seat frequently, and since she was going to sleep the whole way, perhaps she would like to switch. She refused. The guy in the seat in front of me promptly put the back of his seat into my lap. 

    The first time I crawled over the man in the center seat, he enjoyed it too much, so I asked the flight attendant to tell him to get up and let me out. She said, “You tell him.” This was, after all, El Al, the safest but not politest airline in the sky. By the time we landed, everyone hated me. 

    It was a school holiday in France when my husband and I flew on Air France from Paris to New York. The plane was filled with screaming, crying and shouting children. All of them were running up and down the aisle. When one of these drippy-nosed urchins climbed into my lap, I shouted, “Where is this child’s mother?” No one answered. The kid was a brat and I didn’t speak French. When the cart rolled by, I traded him for a drink. 

    My husband had a seat-kicking child behind him and beseeched me to trade seats with him. “Just a little break,” he begged. “Sure,” I replied. We switched seats and he plopped down next to the Ukrainian woman wrestler, who put one of her sleeveless arms on the back of his seat. He bolted forward before getting entangled in her armpit hair, and yelled, “Want to trade again?” “Nope,” I replied, “Want a lawn mower?”

    And then there was the broken seat on a flight to Hong Kong. I was moved to a seat in a section where I was in the middle of a family reunion of 100 Chinese people going to a wedding. I didn’t speak Chinese and they didn’t speak English, so since they couldn’t ask me if I was a relative of the groom or the bride, we all smiled and nodded a lot. To this day, I feel guilty that I didn’t bring a gift. 

    Esther Blumenfeld (oxygen please.)