When I was a kid, my mom loved Erma Bombeck, the humorist who made homemaking hilarious. By extension, that meant I did too. Mom had all of Bombeck's books, and as the kind of avid reader who will pick up anything and give it a shot, I picked up The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by the time I was 8 or so. I'm sure I didn't entirely get it – I didn't even have any younger siblings, so childcare was totally foreign to me – but Bombeck wrote pithy one-liners like a dream. Even if I didn't always know exactly what she meant, I knew funny when I read it.
Today would have been Erma Bombeck's 85th birthday, so it's a day to celebrate her life – and her humor. I offer a few of the one-liners that cracked me up when I was a kid (and still do).
"You show me a boy who brings a snake home to his mother and I'll show you an orphan."
"Don't tell me about the scientific advances of the twentieth century. So men are planning a trip to the moon. So computers run every large industry in America. So body organs are being transplanted like perennials. Big deal! You show me a washer that will launder a pair of socks and return them to you as a pair, and I'll light a firecracker."
“One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child's name and how old he or she is.”
“There's something wrong with a mother who washes out a measuring cup with soap and water after she's only measured water in it.”
“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.”
“My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”
There's plenty more where those came from in Erma Bombeck's 13 books. There is also wisdom, heartbreaking stories of survival (particularly in I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise: Children Surviving Cancer), and a lot of love for the family she poked fun at. Sixteen years after her death, Erma Bombeck remains one of America's funniest women.
Written by Linnea Crowther