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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.



    In Tents Dislike

    Recently, a friend called to ask if I’d like to go to summer camp with her. I responded, “Maybe,” but I really meant, “Hell, No!”

    When I was a kid, my friends attended all kinds of exciting specialty camps that offered horseback riding, classical music, ballet, drama, or science and technology. These places had beautiful names such as: Mountain Meadow, Eagle Hill and Chestnut Lake, and they cost a bundle. My parents didn’t have a bundle, so I was exiled to Camp Stagnant Water in South Dakota. 

    My cabin roof leaked, but only when it rained. It rained the entire week. I had chosen the bottom bunk, so I stayed relatively dry, but my bunkmate kept flicking spiders off her bed and they landed on me. Every night I watched her sagging mattress as it swayed and dipped closer to my face. She must have suffered from motion sickness because she threw up into my shoes twice. Obviously, her digestion wasn’t as good as her aim. 

    Counselor Bruin Hilda called the parents of one of the other girls in the cabin to come and get her because she put a pillow over the face of her snoring bunkmate. The snorer didn’t make it through the week either because she had chosen constipation over the snake rimmed outhouse, and had picked a bouquet of poison ivy.

    I only swam once in the river at Camp Stagnant Water, because when I got to shore, I was covered with hanging leeches. It was an educational experience. Counselor Bruin Hilda was waiting for me with lit matches. She kept yelling, “Stand still!” That was not easy to do with bloodsuckers clinging to my body and Bruin Hilda lighting them like firecrackers. 

    Camp is obviously not my favorite activity. However, as a teenager, my son was an avid camper. He backpacked for 50 miles in the desert, slept in tents, slogged through mud and muck, and his postcards confirmed that he loved every minute of it: 

    “Dear Mom and Dad,” Great trip! We put out the fire on the bus. Love, Son.” 

    “Dear Mom and Dad, It’s real hot here. We haven’t had any rain for two weeks. The dust is pretty bad. I spend most of my time in the water or mud. I got a sunburn. It doesn’t hurt that much anymore. Camp is really fun. Love, Son.” 

    “Dear Mom and Dad, I’m learning about reptiles. Wait until you see my collection. We are having pizza for dinner. Today I saved a camper’s life. Thanks for the cookies. Love, Son.” 

    Esther Blumenfeld (survivalist.)



    Welcome to the Neighborhood

    For some unknown reason, my neighborhood seems to attract an inordinate number of whacky doodle residents. After living here for 16 years, I have seen many homeowners come and go, and once they are gone, I guess they are fair game. So from time to time, I will entertain you with their stories.

    Ralph was a skinflint. For those of you who don’t know the expression, a skinflint is so cheap he will skin a flint to save a penny. If you don’t know what a flint is, look it up, because it has nothing to do with this tale. 

    Ralph’s favorite possession was his wheelbarrow, and from time to time he went around the neighborhood collecting things. He seemed to have a special passion for rocks, and the rock garden in his front yard was especially beautiful. Unfortunately, the rock garden at the community’s front entrance became exceedingly sparse as Ralph’s garden blossomed. 

    No one really took notice until the day one of the neighbors was replacing decorative rocks in her front yard, and suddenly they turned up missing. Discovering them lining Ralph’s front walk, she ordered her workmen to retrieve them posthaste, and threatened to jam one of them up Ralph’s personal back porch if he ever wheeled near her yard again. 

    Ralph was a clean fellow and showered daily, but he calculated that he could lower his water bill by shaving and showering in the men’s room at the community clubhouse, which was only a short stroll from his home. So every morning, Ralph could be seen wearing his big, white bathrobe on the way to the clubhouse. Luckily for Ralph, his bathrobe had pockets roomy enough for a roll of toilet paper or a couple of light bulbs that he filched before strolling back home. Ralph was not only clean but also well wiped and lit. 

    Ralph crowed about his generosity, “I lent my daughter money for the down payment for her house,” he bragged. “And, I’m only charging her 10% interest!” He was the treasurer for five different charitable organizations. Don’t know if he encouraged inventories. 

    When Ralph moved away, Eugene moved in. He also enjoyed showers. But, Eugene liked showering outside in the fresh air. So he let it all hang out, singing loudly, standing in the buff, in the shower stall at the community swimming pool. As the French would say, “nu en nature.” He also moved away. The neighbors took up a collection for a renovation/exorcism. 

    Esther Blumenfeld (rub a dub dub)




    My Give A Damn's Busted (Jo Dee Messina)


    It was Saturday night and the restaurant had a forty-five-minute wait, so my friend Jeanne said, “Have you ever tried, O’Hara’s down the street?” “No,” I replied. “I’ve never even seen it.” Turns out that the reason I had never seen O’Hara’s was because it wasn’t exactly down the street. It was down an alley near the street. 

    When we arrived, I noticed that there weren’t any cars in the parking lot, but there were a couple of motorcycles and a flatbed truck. The restaurant sign read, “Irish Food and Sing-Along.” Before I could protest, Jeanne had disappeared through the front door. As I entered, I bumped my head on a hanging basket. “I see twinkling lights,” I said, rubbing my head. “They’re in the basket,” she assured me. We sat at one of the tables facing the piano, and watched a man crooning “My Way” into the microphone.” If I had my way,” I said to Jeanne, “he’d button his shirt.”

    The waitress came over and shouted, “My name is Saxony.” Jeanne said, “That’s a beautiful name,” and I said, “You are lucky your folks didn’t name you Vandal or Goth.” There weren’t any other customers, so she sat down and joined us.  She also pointed out that the little boy who was running around the bar was her son. Assuring me that the kid wouldn’t mix my martini, I ordered one with the stipulation it arrive quickly. Since all of the other tables were empty, I was assured that this was certainly possible. 

    There were two men sitting at the bar. Saxony told us that the man wearing the American flag shirt was the proud owner of O’Hara’s, and that his friend was the biker. He was wearing a sleeveless shirt that showed off his jumping biceps tattoo of a grinning skull. 

    The “My Way” singer started coming toward me, so I gave him my best, “Get out of my face look,” and said, “Isn’t it time for you to take a break?” He agreed and handed the microphone to a Vietnamese waitress who removed her apron and started slaughtering songs from Phantom of the Opera. I kept hoping that a basket of twinkling lights would fall on her head, or that a Phantom---any Phantom--- would take her to the restaurant basement, but no such luck.  She sang on and on and on. Finally, my vermouth-with-a-touch-of-vodka-and-three-maraschino cherries arrived. Obviously, it was an arts and crafts project complements of the bar running kid. I sent it back and ordered a glass of water and a menu. 

    Spaghetti with tomato sauce wasn’t exactly Irish but it seemed the most harmless choice. I put down my menu and looked around. The restaurant wasn’t exactly filling up, but several people entered, sat down, cleared their throats and obviously began waiting their turn to sing.

    Suddenly, a scarecrow woman ran out of the kitchen with our salads. She tossed them on the table, and then grabbed the mike. She, was, it turns out, our chef.  Jeanne asked me, “Are you feeling okay?” I replied, “God help us. That song is from Sweeny Todd.” Turns out that the spaghetti was pretty tasty, especially when mixed with buttered cinnamon carrots.  It was a weird combination, but kind of fit the place.

    Two heavily made up buxom women—one blond and one redhead—had obviously escaped their coven, and created quite a stir when they flew in and sat at the bar. Impatiently, they flipped their long locks and drank their beers, waiting for the chef to retreat back to her kitchen. The minute she stopped to take a breath between a high and higher note, the redhead ran over, gave her a little shove, grabbed the mike and began to warble ‘Love for Sale.” Finally, realizing that no one was buying, she mercifully quit.  

    The door swung open and a 300-pound woman wearing a glittering, black dress entered.  She must have been a local celebrity because three tough looking guys followed her in. She sat at the table in front of us mercifully blocking our view. 

    No one wears glitz to an Irish sing along restaurant unless they seriously plan on singing. By now, my stomach was doing spaghetti/carrot flip-flops, so I said to Jeanne. “Let’s get out of here, before those thugs block the door.” I only hit my head on the twinkling basket once before the aria began---and Puccini turned over in his grave.

    Esther Blumenfeld (shut up and pass the Guinness)


    Kings, Queens and Rookies

    Chess is a challenging game, but it is a game I always wanted to learn. So, when I went to my public library and saw a notice for “Chess Club,” I signed up. The notice was in a brochure that listed activities for children. I asked the librarian if it would be okay for me to participate, and she said, “Chess Club is open to anyone, even you.” 

    For the first time in my life, I am now the tallest person in my class, and loving it!  However, I quickly learned that towering over my classmates does not make me the smartest strategist in the room. I now know the names of the different pieces and the direction they are allowed to move on the game board. But sometimes I forget if I have the black pieces or the white ones, since we switch sides every week. Of course, when a little voice squeeks,”That’s my piece,” I always back off.

    My first opponent was an 8-year-old Chinese boy named Murphy, who grabbed his Queen after I captured her. I wrestled it out of his tiny hand. That game was a draw. He forgave me, but after two weeks, I told him that he didn’t have to play with me anymore if he wanted to play with one of the other children

    The next week I played with a cute, blonde 9-year-old girl who had a short attention span. I won!

    However, the following week, I got a ringer. Murphy sent in his little brother, Poker Face. The kid didn’t crack a smile or say a word until he whispered, “Check Mate.”  “How old are you?” I asked. “Seven years old,” he replied. “Want to play again?” “Nope,” I answered, pointing at the clock. “Class is over”. 

    Next week I look for a five year old. 

    Esther Blumenfeld (don’t box me in.)


    Just Improvise


    My mother was a charming woman who loved a good party, but cooking a meal was not her forte. Her idea of salad was a head of iceberg lettuce whacked into 4 quarters smothered with bottled French dressing. Meat was cooked juiceless, potatoes boiled, and chicken baked dry. Vegetables arrived in cans, and no fish ever swam past the front door.

     Mother couldn’t stand the smell of peanut butter, so there was no escape until our neighbor, Mrs. So-and-So, took her yearly sojourn to Europe. In her absence, I climbed her apple tree and happily gorged on green apples until my stomach ached. For years she blamed pesky rabbits for the missing carrots in her garden, and my Mother fretted about my lack of appetite. She thought a daily glass of fatty whole milk would solve the problem, and then she wondered why no plant near my chair would live for very long. I knew that if a glass of milk could make a plant droop, it certainly wouldn’t be good for me.

     Consequently, I avoided Mother’s kitchen, and never cooked a meal until I got married. Luckily, my bridegroom had recently mustered out of the army, and he thought it a gourmet feast if the tapioca pudding didn’t land on top of the mashed potatoes.

     My first cooking attempt was a qualified success. He drank two cups of what I put in front of him before he asked, “What is this?” “Meatloaf,” I replied. “Well,” taking another sip, he replied, “I’ve never had it like this before, but it tastes pretty good.  Are you sure it’s meatloaf?” “No,” I replied, “Just drink it.”

     Happily, my mother-in-law was a creative cook and taught me a valuable lesson along the way, “If you don’t have the proper ingredients---improvise!”

     When our son was two weeks old, my husband called me from his office. “I am driving a visiting scientist to the airport. Can I bring him to the apartment for a drink?”  “No problem,” I replied. Turns out that the scientist asked for a dry martini. Since we had no vermouth, I mixed him the driest martini he had ever had. Once he was able to separate his lips, he said, “That is a fantastic drink.”

     Little did he know that the delicious pate that I fed him was cemented to the crackers with a jar of baby food. Some scientist!

     I promised to send his wife the recipe.  I lied!

     Esther Blumenfeld (The How did you do that? How did you do that?  How did you do that? How did you do that? Cook).