The Power of Humor


crowdI have a confession to make.  I lost my funny.

Losing my funny has much more significance than losing a shoe, losing a championship game or even losing one’s virginity.

It was a gradual thing.

Never-ending stories of bad things happening to good people can muffle the soul.

Add career changes, a non-ending Polar Vortex and life goes on autopilot.

Go to Work.  Go to the grocery store.  Cook dinner.  Work some more.  Go to bed. Do it all again the next day.

Where was the funny?

Sure, there was always a chortle here, a chuckle there all dwarfed in much too much seriousness.

Until I attended the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop with one of my best friends, and writing buddies, Anne.

Anne is the silver-lining girl who blogs at Funnysister about her mother’s dementia and other slice of life stories.  She also happens to be one of my roommates from college.

We had dinner the night before we left for the conference with another dear friend, Jeanette, who is one of the funniest people on the planet and has the most infectious laugh of anyone I know.

It’s amazing how just being in the company of people who have known you since you were 18 years-old – who haven’t likely been exposed to the best of you due to geography and time, but have certainly seen the worst of you prior to maturity and motherhood – can reinvigorate the funny just by being in their presence.

Forgetting to pack your underwear for the conference can also reinvigorate the funny.  There’s nothing more invigorating than triggering the shoplifting alarm at Kohl’s when the sales clerk forgets to take the sensor off of your giant granny panties you’ve just purchased.  The ten people standing in line waiting to redeem their Kohl’s cash got a little extra bonus indeed.

It’s such a treat to be among the Bombeck family, on the beautiful campus of the University of Dayton honing the craft of writing under the tutelage of the humor industry’s finest authorities and experts.  It’s a throwback to another time when every newspaper across the country carried Erma’s humor column At Wit’s End and we all started the day with the same laugh.  Eating cake was still cool, which we get to do plenty of at the conference meals.

philWe even got to meet television icon Phil Donahue, who was the keynote speaker.  The man who made his living taking questions from an audience full of women for decades, still has the patience of a saint as a roomful of 350 women lined up for photos after the perfect tribute to his former neighbor and good friend, Erma.

While the workshop was fantastic and it was completely energizing to see all my writing friends, the best part of the trip was a visit to see Anne’s mom Lois.

Anne wrote about her mom inviting herself to the conference in her post The Gift of the Moment.

Anne also prepared me that the visit may be a little depressing.

What I was not prepared for, was Anne’s mother’s incredible sense of humor.  While her dementia inhibits her ability to communicate and remember, she was still cracking jokes at warp speed, even complaining about a fellow resident who didn’t laugh at any of her jokes that morning.

That’s the power of humor.

So thanks to Erma, Lois, Jeanette and Anne, I rediscovered my funny.

And thanks to my daughter who thinks I should have performed a stand-up comedy routine during the open-mic session at the conference because in her words, “You would have won for sure.”

 

 

 

 

Seriously, Leave Barbie Alone


Barbie explores Mars and she's not afraid of helmet head.

Barbie explores Mars and she’s not afraid of helmet head.

Lean In…come closer…closer…Pssst…Leave Barbie alone.

Seriously.

It seems as though lately everyone is out to get this American toy treasure charging her with diminishing young girls self esteem in the form of a proposal to ban Girl Scout Barbie badges to creating a doll the more accurately mimics a female figure. It is absolutely ridiculous to blame an eleven inch plastic doll as being the root cause of poor self body image among girls.

Barbie is fun.

It is fun to pick out a different colorful, hip outfit – accessorized to the hilt – complete with a matching belt, fashionable plastic jewelry, a cute little purse.  Not to mention the honing of fine motor skills for little fingers gained from trying to cram Barbie’s petite feet into those teeny-tiny plastic pumps.

When the quintessential child clothing company Carter comes out with a marble-blue vinyl knee-length overcoat lined with blue faux fur and matching stiletto boots to emulate Barbie clothes, then there may be cause for concern.

Wonder woman Barbie

Wonder Woman enjoying a delicious Barbie prepared meal of roast Turkey leg and pasta. The girl needs her carbs – she’s saving the world.

Barbie has healthy eating habits.  She doesn’t stand in her Dream House kitchen pantry eating potato chips by the handful out of the bag.

She drinks orange juice, milk and serves healthy entrees like roasted turkey to guests – cool guests, like the Collector’s Edition Wonder Woman Barbie.

Ken has never worn a suit or carried a brief case.  He probably has his Speedo in his shoulder bag.

Ken has never worn a suit or carried a brief case. He probably has his Speedo in his shoulder bag.

Barbie is a career woman.  She’s been an Astronaut, Teacher, Doctor, Veterinarian, Dentist, Babysitter, Surfer and Chef to name a few of her occupations.  Yes, she is gainfully employed.

She not only wants to work, she really has no choice with a boyfriend like Ken.  The only suit the man has ever worn is his bathing suit.  Though, Barbie’s loveable surfer dude does get props for always bringing flowers.

So what if she has big boobs and a tiny waist?  It’s fun!

Lammily, shammily.  Have you ever heard of Skipper?  The less voluptuous, not so flashy dresser, younger sister of Barbie?  She didn’t sell so well, though successful crowdfunding will surely send this little Lam to the factory production line.

Barbie's new competition, Lammily.

Barbie’s new competition, Lammily.

We’ll see how long it takes Lam to hit the Bonnie Bell counter for a lip smacker or Justice for some mustache earrings.

It is doubtful that Barbie is having an influence on the trend in provocative teen selfies flooding the pages on Instagram.  Barbie has long been packed up and put into the attic by those teen years.

Let’s stop blaming Barbie.

Battle of the Sexes – The Quest for the Perfect Gingerbread Man


gingerbreadThe allure of the Gingerbread Man…this adorable, rich guy is sweet, yet spicy and always has a smile on his face.

Every Christmas, I channel my inner Martha Stewart in the quest of creating the absolutely perfect Gingerbread Man.

Only, every year I fail miserably and instead channel my inner Mary Shelley in the creation of a hideous cookie monster made of sugar and spice that is systematically trying to kill me.

I’m not really sure what makes operation Gingerbread Man fail.

The no-fail ingredients of sugar, molasses, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, butter, flour, eggs and just a hint of sea salt blend together beautifully to make the most delicious tasting dough.

At this point I have my Gingerbread Man where I want him.

A mere putty in my hands.

That is…until the dough starts to turn on me.

Despite leaving the dough in the refrigerator for an hour followed by three rounds of carefully rolling the ultra-sticky dough between sheets of plastic wrap then freezing the dough for 15 minute intervals, it never completely hardens.

Ultimately, I end up throwing half of the dough in the garbage.

Maybe I’m not patient enough to wait for the dough to harden completely, or maybe it’s just shrinkage from the freezer.

I ask you, is one man worth all this work?

I’m not even that big of a gingerbread fan, yet I am compelled to win the battle of the sexes.

Maybe it’s determination gained from growing up during the women’s rights movement in the 1970′s.

If tennis professional Billie Jean King could defeat Bobby Riggs on national television, surely I can conquer a four inch spice cookie in my own kitchen.

gingerbread perfectWhy are women always attracted to men who play hard to get?

Gingerbread men are no exception.

As God is my witness, I will never attempt to bake Gingerbread Men again.

Though we all know, all it will take is for that spicy little man to flash his perfect royal icing smile and I’ll throw on my sexiest apron and have my heart stomped again.

Then I’ll bite his head off and drown my sorrows in a tall glass of milk.

A McPlea for the McFun Muffler


carrots

The McFun Muffler painted carrots on the wall of my McDonald’s.

There’s a McJackass on the loose and they are taking all the McFun out of McDonald’s.

The McDonald’s in my town was just rebuilt from the ground up.

A well-deserved rebuild, considering this fast food joint earned social mecca status in 1978.

Somehow ordering a diet soda cancelled out the calories of the large order of french fries consumed on a Friday night while cruising around the parking lot in high school.

Those were the good old days.

Who hasn’t ordered a Big Mac after a night at the bars?

And, the luxury of scarfing down that “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” mouthful of goodness in the privacy of one’s own vehicle can’t be beat.

To McDonald’s credit, prices really haven’t changed all that much over the years and the quality of the food has stayed the same.

Where else can you buy supper for under 5 dollars?

And the golden, salty goodness of the french fries?

McDonald’s has the cheapest soft-serve ice cream cone in town.

Sometimes everybody just needs a little McDonald’s.

So when I walked into the shiny, new Golden Arches, I was surprised and quite frankly, disappointed to see murals of vegetables all over the walls.

Really?

10 foot tall carrots gracing the walls of a fast food joint?

The only carrot-top I want to see is Ronald himself.

Who is the McFun Muffler and who are they kidding?

I don’t want drawings of carrots on the walls of McDonald’s.

I want to see a huge Big Mac, in all of it’s artery-hardening decadence.

I want to feel good about just ordering my dollar iced coffee and cheeseburger off the value menu.

If I’m especially cranky or hormonal, I want my salty fries, damn it and I don’t want to be judged for it.

If I wanted to eat a salad, I’d fix one a home.

McDonald’s knows we need a break from cooking.

big macHey McFun Muffler, where is the caramel sauce for the apple dippers?

A very McDipsh*t move.

And the very idea of banning Happy Meals is insane.

Did anyone ever stop to consider maybe it’s the parents who want the toys?

I could not beat it to McDonald’s fast enough to grab the collection of Little Mermaid accessories when I was my daughter was going through her princess phase.

I’m thinking about going through the 24 hour drive-thru at this very moment just to get the Batman collection!

You see, McFun Muffler, no one really wants to grow up.

We need our McDonald’s without guilt.

We need a break, today.

Please consider this McPlea for help.

Signed, a McFan.

Blogger Idol – You Sucked Me In


bug eating photo four

The 52/52 Project creator, Sherry Stanfa-Stanley washing down a few bugs while living outside of her comfort zone.

I swore off blogger contests months ago.  The pinnacle of my shame was when I nominated myself for a Circle of Moms most humorous blogger award.  I could only muster up one shameless self-promotional Facebook status update begging my friends to vote me up the ladder to the status of top mommy jester.  Who the hell was I kidding?  Insert a bar from Carly Simon’s hit, “You’re So Vain.”

And then, it happened.  Blogger Idol.  Sponsored by Little Birdie Social Media, Blogger Idol is an online blogging contest based on the premise of the television show, “American Idol”, where blogging hacks like me compete against each other for prizes and stuff.  I follow last year’s winner Martini’s and Minivans on Facebook.  She would be the Carrie Underwood of Blogger Idol.  “Come on, it’s not too late.”  “I never thought I’d win.”  “Be in the Top 12.”  I was sucked in – again.

According to Sherry Stanfa-Stanley, it’s O.K. to do things out of your comfort zone.  She’s the brilliant mind behind the 52/52 Project.  Sherry is knocking off a list of 52 activities completely out of her comfort zone.  Stuff like getting caught up in a drug bust with the local SWAT team, taking voice lessons, trying out for the reality television show “Survivor”, going camping with the likes of Ted Bundy in the adjacent tent and eating chocolate-covered bugs!  So folks, I guess putting myself out there for a blogging contest isn’t all that bad.  Why not?

Quite frankly, I love to blog.  I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’ve been writing articles for my local newspaper.  I always thought the pinnacle of writing was getting a byline.  Lois Lane, Pulitzer-prize winning stuff.  However, a byline can’t replace the empowerment of blogging – the thrill of freestyle story telling and interacting with the world just by pressing the “Publish” button is just pure bliss.

So, go like Blogger Idol on Facebook and tell them you’d like to see The Laughing Mom make an ass out of herself – again.  It promises to be very entertaining.

Celebrating One Year Of Blogging


Terri L. Spilman:

Great storytellers are hard to find. Taking the time to write words that simply make people smile is so underrated. We need more Funny Sister’s in the world.

Originally posted on funnysister:

Photo Credit:      Katie. Thank you

Photo Credit:   Thank you Katie.

My blog and I are celebrating one year of Worpress-ed bliss. It is our “paper” anniversary, even though this has been a paperless  year for the two of us.

You might say our union was arranged… by a handful of people. A few friends encouraged me to get out there and…write. (Yah, right. No way.) 

My birthday sister and good friend Terri, over at The Laughing Mom had the perfect set-up for me. We’d double date and cruise the blogosphere together.

My Mother unknowingly did the final match-making. Last summer during a trip to my hometown, I enjoyed several visits with her. For the first time, I saw beauty amid the ugliness of her dementia.

It was the inspiration for Sweetie Pie, my first post, which wrote itself in my head. I hooked up with WordPress and hit the publish button.

Terri, The Laughing Mom, is…

View original 896 more words

Fifty, Fuzzy and Fabulous


peach“Really? I still feel 16.”

That’s what my brain said to my body the morning of my 50th birthday.

Most of the time, it’s hard to remember I’m half a century old.  It’s hell to have peach fuzz on my brain and above my upper lip.

Sure, a lot has changed over the years.

In 1963, a hamburger, fries and a coke from McDonald’s cost 45 cents.  A gallon of gas cost 26 cents and a pack of Lucky Strikes cigarettes cost 20 cents.  Jan and Dean were at the top of the charts with a squeaky-clean beach hit, “Surf City USA.”

Now, fast food and cigarettes are on the death list, a full tank of gas costs a week’s pay in 1963 and Robin Thick is at the top of the Billboard chart with a catchy misogynistic tune that requires censoring.

My, how times have changed.

When the young neighbor stops and smiles as he picks up his Sunday morning paper it’s more of a “She reminds me of my Great Aunt Ruth” glance instead of a “Hey, it’s that hot MILF from up the street” sighting.

Still, something happened when that 50 switch turned on.  It’s like a big power-surge of all the knowledge I’ve gained from living 50 years on earth.  A Phoenix rising from the ashes…the sun peering out of a dense, gray fog…

That’s right, my boobs dropped and my brain grew!

Yes!  I’m finally smart enough to have a pair of readers in every room.

Who knew despite a memory that may be getting slightly more fuzzy, orthopedic sensible shoes are now flanking a powerhouse of confidence, keen insight and great wisdom.

I’ve endured vegetable Jello molds from the 60′s, itchy polyester from the 70′s, bad perms from the 80′s, scrunchies from the 90′s and digital over-drive from the 2000′s.

I miraculously dropped my last egg, gave birth and mastered menopause in the same decade.

I am woman, hear me roar – and sweat and cry and roar some more!

According to my tween daughter, I’m now resourceful.

“Hey mom, we need to use your old-lady AARP card at the arcade so we can get a discount and play more games.”

To celebrate the big day, my sisters and my mom treated me to a fancy lunch and a facial. Though I think the facial was a ruse to discreetly have the peach fuzz waxed over my lip.

My sister-in-law sent me a lovely fruit basket with the numbers 2 and 1 carved out in pineapple.

Yet when it comes right down to it, I’d rather be 50 than 21.  That is, I’d rather have my mind at 50 with my ass at 21.