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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
    Apr082011

    Tell It Like It Is

    When a new book hits the market, publishers encourage their authors to schedule book signings because of the publicity they generate. An ego driven author soon discovers that a book signing is not always a pleasant experience. If he dedicates a book: “For Mary, with heartfelt appreciation,” and the recipient coldly remarks, “You spelled my name wrong. It is spelled Merry,” the author cannot cross off the name. He can only say something such as, “Sorry, Mother.” 

    At one of my book signings, I asked the woman, who thrust my book into my face, “And, to whom would you like this book dedicated?” She looked askance and growled, “Just sign your name. It’s worth more that way when you are dead.” Some people tell it like it is! 

    Yesterday, I called a friend, and her gentle voice on the answering machine cooed, “Leave a message, and I’ll get back to you. However, I’m making some changes in my life and you may be one of them.” She called me back. Whew! Some people tell it like it is! 

    Honesty can be brutal. My Proctologist proclaimed, “You have a good looking colon,” and my Periodontist said, “You have a beautiful jaw bone.” I’m considering using those photos in my next holiday newsletter. The last time I read about an impressive jawbone was when Samson smote 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. I guess those compliments covered both ends. Some people tell it like it is! 

    Things are not always what they seem. Hummingbirds don’t hum. They click. Road Runners aren’t cute cartoon creatures. They are carnivorous birds. The first time I saw one; he was smashing a lizard to death on my sidewalk. Not pleasant facts but honest. 

    However, some people don’t tell it like it is. They fudge the truth or they simply lie. There are harmless untruths that people accept. Forever stamps are only Forever until the Postal Service raises the price, and beauty parlor permanents are really only temporaries until your hair grows out. 

    I like to think of myself as an honest person, but I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings. When I was afflicted with a child’s violin recital, I gritted my teeth, and told his mother, “I’m sure you are very proud of him.” 

    Some liars are cruel or use a lie to serve their own purposes. A woman once called to tell me that a good friend had said something nasty about me. I replied, “That is hard to understand, I’m going to call and ask her why she said that.” Heavy breathing ensued on the other end of the phone line. I don’t like malicious liars, but I think that people who eagerly accept a lie, without questioning it---are worse. 

    All of us are confronted with THE BIG LIE.  You only have to dial a business phone number---any business phone number. Be fortified with a good book, because soon you will hear these words: “Your call is important to us. Someone will be with you shortly.” It never fails. My name’s not Shortly! 

    Esther Blumenfeld (Pinocchio move over)

     

    Friday
    Apr012011

    Ship Shape

    Sometimes when we think we are getting away from it all, we inadvertently run headlong into an unexpected maelstrom of events. So, here’s my sad tale of a vacation gone awry. A week of sailing the Eastern Caribbean on a beautiful cruise ship, in the middle of winter, would normally provide sun, fun and gluttonous delights. But, I soon discovered that this time I would become a victim of Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong---goes wrong.” 

    After my plane landed in Ft. Lauderdale, I dutifully wheeled my luggage cart down the street to the bus pick-up station. All the busses stopped at the assigned spot---except mine---which stopped across the street. Seeing me struggling with my cart, an old man jumped out of his wheelchair and began pulling my cart over the curb. I told him to stop, but he didn’t, so I let go, and both he and the cart rolled into the middle of the street. I picked up my cursing cavalier, left the cart, grabbed my suitcase and managed to catch the bus. 

    As soon as we boarded the ship, all passengers were herded into the Lido Buffet for lunch. I had never seen a buffet covered with shower curtains. No one could get near the food except for the plastic gloved waiters cowering behind the serving stations. We pointed and they dished, but there were no trays, no silverware, no salt and peppershakers and no sugar bowls. And, a guy with a bottle kept spritzing my hands, my chair and my table. Something was amiss.

    As I searched for my cabin, I noticed signs on some of the doors: ”No unauthorized entrance.” Then I realized, I was not on the Good Ship Lollipop. I was on the Ship of Gastrointestinal Contagion, and there was no escape. I am a good swimmer, but not that good! My suitcase arrived with a broken zipper. I met my tablemates. The gentleman with the green complexion sat next to me, and our waiter cheerfully announced, “Tonight’s dinner is my Mama’s Cooking.” At midnight, Mama hit me with an intestinal cleaver. 

    The next day, passengers who could still walk, left the ship to enjoy the pleasures of the deep blue sea, while I gazed into the swirling water of my cabin’s toilet. In a couple of days, I felt well enough to eat a hamburger at noon and was back in bed by two. I called the ship’s doctor, who said, “The hamburger was a big mistake, but if you could eat a hamburger, you don’t have what the others do. It’s probably food poisoning or another bug.” I was not confined to cabin, but was ordered to eat bland food---not exactly the easiest thing to find on a cruise ship. Not wanting to submit my tablemates to my diet, I returned to the plastic shrouded Lido for a baked potato. When the waiter behind the curtain said, “We don’t have baked potatoes,” I yelled, “You poisoned me. You go get one.” He did. 

    Sunday was “Get Off The Ship Day.” My American Airlines flight was supposed to leave Ft. Lauderdale at one o’clock.  By three o’clock, I knew I had missed my connection from Dallas to Tucson. Consequently, I was put on USAir that flew to Phoenix (with a connection to Tucson). When my plane in Dallas arrived dirty from Heathrow, it had to be cleaned. They must have hired a turtle and two goats to do the job, because by the time they were finished, the plane left an hour late, and I missed my connection in Phoenix. Now it was midnight, and all airline personnel had left the gates in Phoenix, so I went to the Lost Baggage Department. Mistaking me for lost baggage, the agent sent me to a hotel and I caught a flight the next day to Tucson. It took two days to get from Florida to Arizona. In that time, I could have flown to China. 

    Here’s the good news: 

    1. I lost five pounds on that cruise.

    2. The ship didn’t hit an iceberg, and

    3. I wasn’t eaten by a shark.

    Esther Blumenfeld (don’t rock my boat)

    Friday
    Mar252011

    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.”)

    Friday
    Mar182011

    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!)

     

    Friday
    Mar112011

    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)