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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.



    Who Are You?

    In the poem, The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot wrote, “There will be time, there will be time to prepare a face to meet the faces that we meet.” I read the poem when I was in college, and throughout my life that particular line stuck with me.

    It takes awhile to really get to know people, and even today, when I meet someone, I often wonder if I am meeting the person behind the mask. For 25 years, I observed a business associate who dramatically changed his persona depending upon the situation and with whom he was interacting. To this day, I don’t know if I ever really knew the man behind the faces he presented. I often wonder if somehow, somewhere, he lost his essence along the way.

    I recently heard a lecture where the speaker emphasized the importance to, “Be yourself.” That, of course, can get a person into a lot of trouble. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Know thyself? If I knew myself, I would run away.”

    Children are experts at being themselves. A friend’s granddaughter recently learned the ditty, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Being 6 years old, she didn’t know just how long ago that was, so she asked her grandparents, ”Were you guys alive back then?” Dr. Seuss would have approved when he advised, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

    Being myself was never a terrible problem for me, but like everyone else there were times I had to present a different face to deal with difficult situations or difficult people. I’d have to tell myself, “Suck it up, and put on a nice face.” However, I never played the Let’s Pretend game so often that I lost myself in the process.

    The famous actor, Gregory Peck was attending a party with his wife, when John Wayne approached them. After exchanging a few words, Wayne ambled away, and Gregory Peck turned to his wife and said, “He really believes he’s John Wayne.”

    The Canadian essayist, Andre Berthiaume wrote, “We all wear masks, and the time comes, when we can’t remove them without removing some of our skin.”  

    I guess each of us needs to decide how much skin we can afford to lose.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“ Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be”) Fanny Brice.


    With Quill In Hand

    I like receiving mail. I don’t mean turn-on-your-computer mail. I mean handwritten-stamp-on-an-envelope mail. The other day, I received a lovely card from a woman I have never met, but I am going to keep it, and re-read it, because it gives me pleasure.

    In a recent interview for Time Magazine the historian, David McCullough was asked, “We don’t write letters on paper anymore. How will this affect the study of history?” He replied, “The loss of people writing a letter is not just the loss for the record. It’s the loss of the process of working your thoughts out on paper, of having an idea that you would never have had if you weren’t writing. And, that’s a handicap. People I research were writing letters everyday. That was calisthenics for the brain.”

    Life long pen pals, John and Abigail Adams exchanged more than 1,100 handwritten letters, and these letters provided a window into history.  Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt were also prolific letter writers. Roosevelt wrote to Churchill, ”It is fun being in the same decade as you.” Love was never sweeter than when Napoleon Bonaparte penned to Josephine, “Sweet incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect on have on my heart.”

    However, it’s the funny letters that I hold dear. No texting for Chopin who wrote to his friend, Julien Fontana about how miserable he felt after catching a bad cold: “Three doctors examined me. The first says I’m going to die. The second claims that I am actually dying, and the third told me that I am already dead.”

    Sorry, but an e-mail wouldn’t have had the same impact as Groucho Marx’s penned note, when he wrote to S.J. Perelman, “From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday, I intend on reading it.”

    I am a keeper of letters. The handwriting of my parents and grandparents is an intimate glimpse into the past. My Father’s handwriting looks like chicken scratches, but I always got the gist of what he wrote. My husband’s misspelled, printed words added to the humorous thoughts that came from a nimble mind. I have a friend who only writes in brown ink—a distinctive and endearing quality.

    During my career, I was privileged to receive several letters from famous people. When Lynne Alpern and I co-authored, Mama’s Cooking: Celebrities Remember Mama’s Best Recipe, we requested recipes, photos and gems of advice that celebrities remembered from their mothers. I didn’t receive a recipe, but will always cherish this terse note:

                “Dear Authors, I have no memory of any gems from anybody.

                Most Sincerely, Lillian Hellman.

    In her inimitable style, she had told us to, Stuff it you turkeys! You’ve got to love it.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“I’m going to sit right down and write myself a letter")



    Rats! It's A Dilemma

    Every once in awhile, all of us are faced with a difficult situation with limited options which require a choice. This choice might involve equally unfavorable results. It’s called a dilemma, and I was faced with a doozy.

    It was an exceedingly hot day, and I went to our community pool for a relaxing swim. When I got there, I saw a very large pack rat drowning in the water. I had several choices:


    1. I could turn around and go back home.
    2. I could bludgeon it to death, but I am not a killer.
    3. I could save its hairy little hide. 

    When I was a child, one day, I entertained myself by stepping on ants. My father took me aside and told me that all creatures have a place in this world, and that I was upsetting the balance of nature. The lesson took.

    I decided on the third option and fished the rat out of the water with a pole that had a leaf collecting net. Now, the critter was struggling in the netting. I couldn’t put a live rat into the garbage can, so I threw it over the wall, hoping that it would find its way home.

    The pool is well chlorinated. The rat had been better behaved than some of the neighborhood children with whom I have had to swim, and I remembered seeing my brother’s golden retriever swimming in their pool. So, I decided to get into the water, and spend my time in the deep end away from where the rat had been.

    I floated on my back and watched a hawk circling in the sky. I hoped that he appreciated the balance of nature and liked marinated rat. When I got home, I took a shower. So far, it seems as if I have suffered no harm---except I have an insatiable craving for cheese.

    Esther Blumenfeld (please pass the gouda) 



    It rained very hard last night, so there were big puddles on the path where I walk. Most grown-ups step around small bodies of water, but the temptation was too much for me. So, there I stood in the middle of the puddle, watching my feet sink into the wet sand. A man strolled by and said,” Are you trying to walk on water?” and I replied, “No, I am just leaving temporary footprints on the earth.

    The puddle will dry up and my footprints will disappear. However some footprints are not so benign. I swear that there are days when I look into the mirror, after dealing with difficult people or situations, and I feel as if someone has tap danced on my forehead. Sometimes we all feel as if we have been walked on, and on a particularly bad day those shoes have cleats.

     Kids know what to do with a puddle---jump in with both feet and make a big splash. It might be messy, but it’s a whole lot of fun. Maybe we should take a cue from these youngsters when dealing with the vicissitudes of life. Someone once said to me, “Children don’t have problems.” I replied, “Hog Wash!” Isn’t a smashed favorite toy more of a problem than being stuck in a traffic jam? The jam will eventually unplug. The toy is forever lost. Consequently, here are some children’s recommended solutions for a bad day:


        1. Band-Aids: Lots of band-aids can cure almost any boo-boo. It would certainly work if you could apply a box of them to some peoples’ mouths.

        2. Ice cream:  It cools you off and always makes you feel better.

        3. Naps: A nap is an excellent way to deal with crankiness.

        4. Bubble gum: If you blow a bubble and it pops, you will spend the rest of the day getting it out of your hair. That’s where the expression “stick-to-itiveness” comes from.

        5. Hide and Seek: Always make the mean person “It”. You don’t have to seek or ever find him.

        6. Mud Pies: They taste better than Brussels sprouts, but you quickly find out that sometimes what you enjoy can make you sick.

        7. The solution for world peace: It’s simple. Say, “I am sorry.” Kiss and make-up, run through a puddle together, and then try to do better.

     Too bad kids aren’t running the world.

     Esther Blumenfeld (Who made me the grown-up?)



    Blockers For The Impulse Challenged

    After whacking the immovable cap of an “easy to open” bottle on my garage floor (accompanied by an inordinate amount of colorful language) I was finally able to open the sucker. I know that prying the top off of a bottle of apple juice isn’t worth the aggravation or the rise of blood pressure, and I do wish that I had exercised more self-control.

    Little did I realize that I had nothing to worry about, because self-control is now a thing of the past. Technology is the present, and electronics are going to give us all the tools we need to help us behave like grown-ups. Will power will soon be passé, because science is going to take the place of self-control. Wow!

    Here then, are some of the devices that will save us from having to police our own impulses: For people who’d rather engage their thumbs than watch traffic on the road, a GPS can be programmed to lock down texting once the car starts.  And, if you have bad breath, your ignition will also lock down when you exhale, and your breath smells like a brewery. In this case, technology not only saves us from ourselves, but also protects clueless drivers on the road, who are busy chatting on their cell phones.

    For out-of-control squanderers there is a computer program that can cut off credit card spending. I don’t know if programmers have developed a wallet that bites your hand, but consumers are now able to set up a “spending alert.” Thus, your friendly banker will cut you off when you exceed your spending limit.

    For computer addicts, there is an internet blocking program that shuts down web access, and the package also includes a spring, which propels you out of your chair. Sorry, I made that up, but it is not so far fetched. After all, there is a device that watches our workouts and critiques how we did, “Only fifty pushups? You wimped out!”

    I am so relieved that I don’t have to control myself anymore. I expect that the next time I want to put a spoonful of chocolate ice cream into my mouth, my refrigerator will drop an iron mask on my head, clamp the sides shut and save me from myself.

    Esther Blumenfeld (de-teching)