RSS Feed

Category Archives: humor


My four-year-old grandson loves a good joke. Actually, Emerson loves any joke. He has mastered the forms and conventions of joke-telling perfectly. Chicken crossed the road? Em can tell you twenty reasons why. Knock-knock? Make his day and say “who’s there?” Emerson will never run out of  jokes because he knows the formula and can make them up at will. Humor? Optional.

Nothing tickles me more than exchanging jokes with Emerson on video chat.  (Love my webcam, baby!) He gets as close as he can to the computer on his end so his head floats larger than life on the screen in front of me. (“I am OZ, the great and terrible, who are you and what do you want?”) Usually I am expected to lob the first volley.

Nana: “How do you tell which end of the worm is its head?”

Em feigns bewilderment, even though he has heard this one before.

Nana: “Tickle its tummy and see which end laughs.”

Em chuckles agreeably and returns fire in his scratchy little voice.

Em: “Knock Knock!”

Nana: “Who’s there?”

Em: “Banana”

Nana: “Banana who?”

Emerson’s eyes dart around the room, scanning for any random object on which to pin his punchline. Ah-hah. Got it. He turns back to the computer with a victorious grin.

Em: “Banana in a stinky sock.”

He totally cracks himself up, collapsing back in his chair in self-satisfied glee. I laugh out loud and wait for his next invention. The wait never lasts very long. The whole process delights me.

One problem plagues our joke exchanges. It happens when Em says, “Tell me another joke.”  My mind does not retain jokes. Or if I do remember the beginning, the punchline escapes me. Or worse, I forget how it starts and the punchline tumbles out before the set-up. Hopeless. If I try to make up a random joke, Em style, he gives me a lame chuckle and a skeptical look like, “Really Nana, you can do better than that.”  Then he waits. Nana on the spot.

So, this post is actually a plea for help. Please leave me a comment with your favorite clean-and-politically-correct joke in it. (It’s not hard, I promise. Just click on the “Leave a comment” or “# comments” button and type in your joke.) Better yet, leave me two or three jokes. Emerson’s appetite is insatiable and I would love to collect a serious stockpile for the long winter months ahead. Make me laugh–I promise I’ll remember the punchline.


Blast From the Past

Can I just say that I have no problem with middle age? OK, I’ll say it. I have no problem with middle age. As much as I enjoyed high school, I would never go back. But I did go to my 30 year high school class reunion on Saturday night and discovered or rediscovered a few gratifying things:

  • Three decades pretty much level the playing field. Cellulite and receding hairlines and pot-guts and varicose veins come to jock and brainiac, cheerleader and yearbook editor alike. But you know what? It’s life. And life looks good on us. We’re beautiful.
  • Despite the above-mentioned signs of aging, I’m super comfortable in my own skin. In the hour-plus it used to take me to do my Farrah Fawcett hairdo in high school I can now shower, get dressed, do hair and make-up, feed the dog, check email, call my mom, start the dishwasher and sync my iPod. Low maintenance is my MO. Hallelujah.
  • My high school friends were extraordinary human beings, still are. They live with compassion and integrity, meet obstacles with courage and grace, and make the world better.
  • I love my life and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

As part of the program on Saturday night, I took a stab at condensing the past thirty years into 90 seconds of common life experience.  I called it “Life History Lite” or “Three Decades–Reduced.” Some folks have asked for a copy of it, so here it is. (It’s nonsense that’s  meant to be read aloud!)

Where Did Thirty Years Go?

1981. Grad night fun. On the move. Moving out. Big hair, big dreams, big plans. Plan B. Out of state, room mate. Freshman dorms, fill out forms. Fraternity, sorority, Republican majority. Student loan. Cap and gown.  MBA. Resume. GRE. PHd. Job fair. New job, no job.

True love, true blue. Rented tux. I do. Honeymoon. Townhome, twin home, Home Depot. Fixer-upper, Mr. Fix-It, Thirty-year fixed.  Ultrasound.  Ultra-Huggies. Newborn, new crib, no sleep. Car seat. First steps, first tooth, first day of school. Ballet, Little League, cubs scouts, time-outs. Room mother, soccer mom, Mr. Mom, step-mom. Slip-on Vans, mini-van, middle school, carpool. Hurry up, buckle up, cheer up, pay up. Fast track, no slack, Democrats come back. Refi, remodel, relocate. Four bedroom, two story, three car garage. Teenage, middle age, aging parents. High school, too cool. Driver’s ed, driver’s license. Drive-up, drive-in, drive-thru. Drives dad crazy.

Detox, botox, pep talks. Grey hair, no hair. Rogaine, weight gain, capital gains.  APR. ARM. IRA. 401K. High tech, high stress, highlights, light rock, less talk. iPod. iPad. Ear bud. Bluetooth. Touch screen. Express lane. Overnight. While you wait. Instant message. Fast food. Rush order. Rush hour.  Overtime, over committed, over drawn. Over the hill? Not us. Never. Golf bag, gym bag, mountain bike, take a hike. Running shoes, shin splints, triatholon day, Ben-gay. Been there, done that. Moving on. Hanging on. Bring it on.  Here’s to the next thirty years!

What’s your favorite thing about getting older? Have you gone to your high school class reunions? Leave a comment with your favorite “blast from the past” experience.

>Words–They’re What’s For Dinner

>Considering how many words I’ve eaten in my life, you would think I would learn to avoid sweeping assertions or any phrase that begins with “I will never . . . ”  You’d think. At least words have no trans fats, bad cholesterol, or calories. They also have no nutritional value. Actually that’s not true. The long-term benefit of eating my words is clear:  Being utterly wrong so often humbles me pretty much every day. I guess that makes words the new superfood. A few tidbits from my recent diet of the carelessly uttered:

“I will never spoil my grandchildren.” Hah. That lasted about, mmmmm, negative six months. Pink items started jumping into my cart within days of my daughter’s first ultra-sound. I fooled myself that the novelty would wear off with grandchild number 2 (a boy) and number 3 (boy also.) Nope. Reptile themed playwear and tiny checkered Vans have proven just as hard to resist.

“I will never dye my hair.When I start to turn gray, I’m just letting it go natural.” Right. It seemed high-principled in my twenties and thirties. But somewhere in the homestretch of my forties one spot turned gray overnight (well, it seemed like it.) If the gray had popped up discreetly in the back or at my temples in a dignified manner I might have let it go. But no, it had to burst forth front and center over my forehead. Not OK–Cruella DeVille is not really what I’m aiming for. So I lay down good money on a regular basis to have Amber do “partial highlights,” a term invented to humour sheepish word-eaters who stated unequivocally in younger days that they would never “dye” their hair.

Twilight? Never. I don’t read vampire books.” This one pains me to admit because of the vehemence with which I scoffed. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I read all four. Ouch. I didn’t love them, though. Does that redeem me at all? And I feel pretty confident saying this: I will never write a vampire novel. Ever.

That last paragraph puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it? Sure, I eat my words pretty regularly, but at least I don’t drink blood. It could be worse. So use tasty words, folks, you may have to eat them. On my breakfast menu today? A big bowlful of “I have zero interest in writing a blog . . .”

What words have come back to you on a plate with a fork? I love your comments.


>I make lists. Long ones. It started years ago. We had four busy kids at home, a dog or two, nearby grandparents, and my chronic volunteerism all jockeying for position on the calendar or in the carpool. If it didn’t make the list, it didn’t happen. The Sacred Holy List (hereafter referred to as the SHL) quickly became an appendage, like a college-ruled third arm.

You probably envision the SHL like other mundane to-do lists you have seen. No. Think epic—like the Odyssey of checklists. Two parallel columns of neatly written tasks march down the page. Three parts chore chart, one part wish list. The urgent (pay bills) sit side by side with the unlikely (paint banister). Some things (organize garage) take up permanent residence on the SHL and simply get carried over to the next list when I run out of lines. The garage has topped the Sacred Holy List since 2001, at least.

Now that we have no children living at home my schedule has become remarkably flexible. Why can’t I retire the Sacred Holy List? I wake up every day and head straight for the SHL in much the same way that normal Americans head for Starbucks. The morning cobwebs in my head clear as my eyes run down the List. I catch a whiff of purposefulness—the elusive aroma of productivity.

If I were to be honest about the source of the SHL’s mysterious power it boils down to one thing—the crossing-off part. Each item with a line through it gives me the illusion that my life is under control. Confession: I have even stooped so low as to add a task to the Sacred Holy List after I completed it, just so I could feel the triumphant rush of making that thin, blue line. I know. Pathetic, right?

A few weeks ago, in the throes of packing for vacation, the SHL went missing–buried under the junk mail and wedding announcements that overrun my kitchen desk every summer. I was paralyzed, couldn’t move a muscle. How would I know what to do, much less what I had already done? The day’s accomplishments would be joyless, devoid of satisfaction unless I could cross them off!

Somehow I limped along to get the bags packed and the doors locked and the key passed along to the dog-sitter. By the time I boarded the airplane, my list withdrawal pains had started to subside. Calm and cool-headed, I vowed to wean myself from the list when I got home. My unlisted status lasted one day. Day two I got a little shaky and gave in, starting with one modest column of realistic ambitions. No clean the garage or write the great American novel or label the thirty-seven shoeboxes of family photos and put them in scrapbooks. I’m simplifying. But more on that later. I’ve got to go put a line through write blog post.

Tell me I’m not alone! How psychotic is this? Maybe I don’t want to know. Anyone out there share this compulsion?

>Seek and ye shall find . . . on Amazon


Am I permitted an epilogue to yesterday’s discussion of the “seek or shop” dichotomy? (Sorry A., for the gratuitous vocab slinging, just go get a dictionary) Oh wait, it’s my blog. I can blab about whatever I want. Your witty and honest comments to yesterday’s post and a handful of pithy Facebook messages convinced me that the “Can’t find it? Buy ten more!” mentality is not, after all, a guy thing. It crosses gender lines and manifests in a host of harmless fetishes ranging from flashlights in every drawer to scissors in every room. (But do you have eighty-one of them? I didn’t think so. Amateurs.) The saga continues, and raises another vital question “How many is too many?”
I came, I saw, I clicked.
I noticed some time ago that Bob had declared war on our Tupperware cupboard. The two of them engaged in almost daily battles of wit and stamina. Bob would dig into the darkest recesses of the cabinet in search of a lid for whatever plastic storage dish he had in hand. The evil cupboard/lid cartel had no intention of coming forward with the needed tops. The skirmishes grew more and more heated over time. And frankly, Bob seldom emerged victorious. Until today.
The doorbell rang and I opened the door to find three large boxes on my porch. They came from Amazon and were addressed to me. Christmas in August. I couldn’t imagine what wondrous surprise awaited. Vaguely I recalled that my usually open and forthcoming husband had dropped a couple of smug, cryptic hints over the weekend. “I have good news . . . you can find anything on Amazon.”
And find he did, no rummaging required–plastic refrigerator storage dishes made by Rubbermaid. One hundred and thirty-two pieces. The “Easy Find” line. It says it right on the box, along with this brilliant slogan: “Right lid. Right now.” The lids and dishes snap together and nest to boot. No losing these lids, no sir. Those folks at Rubbermaid have my husband pegged.
“132 pieces?”
Now I have a hundred and thirty-two pieces of storage ware. Bob triumphs. The epic hunt for lids that fit is a thing of the past. Looks like it’s my turn to seek–for a little more cupboard space.
What do you hoard? And how many IS too many?

>Hide and Seek

>My husband owns 81 screwdrivers. That is not a typo. Eighty-one. Actually, the count stood at 81 in 1998 when we moved. More have accumulated in the intervening twelve years, I’d wager. Best guess? Right around a hundred–every size and shape you can imagine. No, he doesn’t have a particular passion for screwdrivers . . . he just hates to hunt for things. Forgive the not-PC-gender-stereotyping, but is this a guy thing?

Bob breaks into a cold sweat at the prospect of seeking for necessaries in the Black Hole we call a garage or in the laundry room or kitchen cupboards. He has honed a brilliant, if expensive, strategy for dealing with his rummage-phobia.

If you can’t find your drill bits or the high pressure nozzle for the hose or your navy blue socks forget the scavenger hunt at home. Why would you spend seven minutes looking calmly through your house when you could put your shoes on, hop in the car, drive to Home Depot or Kohl’s, park, shop around, fill a cart with “bargain” items you don’t need, stand in line, check out, shove a buck in the metal lock box of the homeless vet sitting outside the store, load your purchases in the trunk, return the cart to the little cart-corral, drive home, unload your purchases, and search through the heap of not-eco-friendly shopping bags for the item you so urgently needed two hours ago? Trouble is, by now you’ve completely forgotten what you went to the store for in the first place. But at least you’ve got a half dozen new nozzles on hand, and four bonus packs of navy blue socks.


(So, would you rather hunt for the one you have, or just buy a couple more? Does this break down along gender lines? I know you’re reading, I see the stats. Comment already!)

>No more Mr. Nice Guy

>I’m not one of those squeamish, squealy girls who faints at the sight of of spiders. Living things deserve respect. You know,”All God’s creatures got a place in the choir . . .” Even ants and spiders and various six-legged animals have a place. Outside. Venture into my bathtub, Charlotte, and you’re toast. And if you think you can escape your fate by writing an uplifting little message in your web–I have news for you. THAT STORY IS FICTION!

Has anyone else noticed the sudden spider population explosion? I have patiently flushed dozens of them down the toilet over the past few weeks. But Saturday I grabbed my towel in preparation for a nice bath and the Queen Mother of spiders dropped down and scurried across my toes.

A line had been crossed. If that wasn’t enough, when I went to the bathtub four of her little offspring were huddled around the drain. I have no doubt they were planning how to take over my entire home. Today the neighborhood, tomorrow the world. This demanded drastic action.

Confession: I called the pest control guys. The ones who come to your house and spray who-knows-what everywhere. My earth-loving side insisted that I ask the right questions before I signed the 12 month contract. How toxic? Would it kill my dog? The pest guy was good–incredibly reassuring. He kept using words like “organic” and “safe” and I think he even threw “pre-school” in there somewhere. I don’t know, my impression was that I could use his bug-killing formula as a nightly facial cleanser or put it in my grandson’s bottle with no ill effects.

It wouldn’t have mattered, frankly. If he’d told me my dog would sprout tusks and my leg hair would grow a yard per day, I still would have said, “Great, when can you spray?” So, critters beware. The ugly bug ball is over. And friends, if you notice an extra ear protruding from my chin next week, just look the other way. I may have a few spare appendages, but my house is spider free!