Making You Laugh...On Purpose



My mother loved Erma Bombeck’s column, “At Wit’s End,” chronicling the ordinary life of a mid-western suburban housewife. 

It all started way back in childhood when I’d hear Mom laughing out loud in the kitchen, coffee in one hand, the newspaper open on the table. Mom loved Erma Bombeck’s column, “At Wit’s End,” chronicling the ordinary life of a mid-western suburban housewife. To me, laughter and singing are the dominant memories I have of her. She passed away at age forty-two, leaving me her looks and her sense of humor.

Unfortunately, I got my tone-deafness from my father, so singing is reserved for the shower and when I have a head cold.

I sing like Madonna when I have a head cold.
 
I developed a sense of humor early—age three—when my sisters were born. Straight out of the womb they made my life Hekk, and after Mom refused to take them back where she’d bought them, I figured the best way to make her like me more was to make her laugh…the way Erma did.

Listening to Mom laugh out loud had an impact on me. A smile, a chuckle could also be interpreted as indigestion…but making her laugh out loud! That was my goal.

Erma inspired me beyond making Mom laugh. When I was old enough to appreciate Erma's wit, I devoured her books, unconsciously using her as a mentor for my own future ambition to be a writer. 

No, not just a writer: an “authoress” as I told my catechism teacher when he asked what I planned to be when I grew up. He laughed at me; I made my parents change churches to one who would take my ambition seriously. 

Making my catechism teacher laugh unintentionally put a cork on my willingness to share my secret passion with anyone outside my family. Instead, with the steady perseverance equated with those of us of the Capricorn persuasion, I churned out story after story behind my closed bedroom door. The world would be denied my eloquent humor until I was good and ready to make them laugh—on purpose.

Years passed. I’d matured as a writer and had found my “voice.” I love off-beat comedy and sassy dialogue. If you're looking for a poignant story steeped in true to life, you won't find it under my name. I want my readers to suspend belief and just have a laugh out loud good time. 

Recently a friend mentioned to me that her father had heard her mother laughing out loud often while reading a book. He finally asked what she was reading. It was one of my books! Hearing that gave me the kind of feedback every author desires. I’d accomplished the job I’d set out to do. I’d made someone else’s mom laugh.

I know my Mom would have been proud of me. Probably Erma, too.





Burnt Toast

My morning ritual before I tackle my daily writing project is to read a couple chapters from the top book on my ‘waiting to be read’ stack. With coffee close by and husband off to work I slip between the pages and escape. But never without interruption. This morning my orange demon, Opie, insisted the blinds in my geriatric tabby's room had to be open, so he rattled them with annoying persistence until I got up and opened them.



When I returned to the couch I spied the Scentsy fragrance I'd recently purchased: Fresh mowed grass. I almost didn't turn it on because I was the only one home. Why waste fragrance on just me, especially when I would be in the room for less than an hour? 

Then I recalled Teri Hatchers’ book, Burnt Toast, about how women unconsciously deny themselves. "Burnt Toast," is Teri’s metaphor for women who too often take the leftovers for themselves.

It is my opinion that always giving the best to someone else leads to a chronic lifestyle of putting yourself last in every aspect of your life. While admirable in that it showcases your loving, giving spirit, I feel it will eventually backfire and lead to personal discontent and perhaps a wee bit resentment toward those you've given first best to all these years.

One thing I've observed about cats is, with true feline instinct they will commandeer the best seat in the house. They rise as high off the ground as possible to a perch enabling them to look down on both fellow feline and human servants. From this perspective their omnipotent attitude is: Me first.

Me first. For most women this attitude is nearly impossible. Most likely we learned from our moms and grandmoms the art of sacrifice. The Baby Boomer’s parent culture had mom at home tending to the family while dad worked. Dad rarely set foot in the grocery store; laundry mat, or shopped for back-to-school clothes—or even bought his own boxer shorts! Wife-Mom did all that.

In Christine Northrup’s book, The Wisdom of Menopause, she says in gist, men’s brains use one hemisphere at a time, usually the left, which is associated with linear, logical thinking. Women, on the other hand, use both hemispheres simultaneously. 

The right hemisphere is associated with emotion. So, when women are created with a greater neurological and emotional connection to her heart than men, suffice to say, we are screwed. We will always give the best to our loved ones because it is physically impossible not to want the best for them…even if that means eating the burnt toast ourselves.

However, Dr. Northrup also said women use both hemispheres simultaneously. To me that means I need to consciously, deliberately override my right hemisphere on occasion and give myself what I want.

So, I turned on the Scentsy warmer and enjoyed fresh mowed grass.