Channeling Erma….


I’ve always thought I was a bit snarky about kids and marriage until someone said I reminded them of Erma Bombeck (HUGE COMPLIMENT-thank you!). I remembered reading columns out of my mother’s old Good Housekeeping magazines and finding them funny so I decided to check out some of her books. Among my favorite titles I found If Life’s A Bowl of Cherries, Why Am I in the Pits?, Family: The Ties that Bind….and Gag, and A Marriage Made in Heaven or Too Tired for an Affair. I see that what I have to say is nothing new and that women, despite infinite leaps in progess towards equality and opportunities, have guilt wired into their DNA . No matter what the situation, we can and will find something to worry about with neither the time or energy to really figure it out. And if we are like Erma, we will be completely honest about it.

Erma obviously never worried too much about telling all. She survived/enjoyed/endured 40+years of marriage to the same man and made her living by telling the truth from her point of view. I am sure she must have been some sort of trail blazer by just putting it out there. I think in today’s world, it can still be hard to be honest, especially about relationships. One particular point she makes is about arguing. Since Big Man and I don’t agree on how to argue, I was particularly curious about what Erma had to say.”There is something wrong with two people who agree to never disagree. I can say without a shred of modesty I have become quite good at arguing and expressing anger. How? Practice, practice, practice. I have engaged in some of the most dazzling war of words ever spoken in anger.” I can relate to this. I feel brilliant and righteous and right when I am mad and this can make my voice boom and my articulation impeccable. How can something so spectacular be wrong? Live theatre at it’s finest! But not everyone (Big Man) is comfortable doing that. I maintain that it’s just another tool in helping our children communicate expressively. So far it appears we are doing well, and I take lots of credit for it. He is not buying it.

At least in reviewing some of Erma’s pieces, I am comforted by the fact that things never have been,nor will they ever be, perfect. Couples don’t always agree, children are rarely angelic when you need them to be, and housework truly is mundane. It hasn’t just been me! Life and all of its craziness really does lie in the shades and shadows of gray. If we are lucky, we get a few glimpses of clarity, but most of the time we are muddling.

Erma was pretty up front about the lack of definitive answers. She concludes this same book by saying, ” I wanted to end this book with a wonderful statement on how marriages work. I don’t have a clue.” And I like that a woman of her talent and longevitiy can share the same uncertainty that I have and tell the truth about it.