My Bombeckian Literary Trip

I have always loved satire—whatever topic it covers. It can be about politics, countries, Hollywood personalities, sports, everyday experiences, etc. I have tried (and still trying) to adopt the satirical style of writing. I look at contemporary and local humor writers like Jessica Zafra and RJ Ledesma, among others. That’s why whenever I go to bookstores, I make it a point to browse the bookshelves very carefully for book categories like “Humor” and “Comedy.” Imagine my excitement when I got hold of two paperbacks of the American humorist/columnist, Erma Louise Bombeck (February 21, 1927 – April 22, 1996).

If you didn’t know, Erma Bombeck achieved fame for her laughable newspaper article pieces, which started circulation from 1965 up to 1996. Her pieces speak mostly on womanhood and married life, being a mother, and being a domesticated housewife. Although her articles are not applicable to the modern world, I still find them highly amusing. They depict the world in the early stages of modernization. They also enlighten me on the experiences of women who enter the world of child-rearing. I never knew it could be that comedic.

So far, I have already read six Bombeck books; four more to go. Personally, I don’t mind reading these books on a slow pace. I enjoy them so much that I would like to savor every piece fully. Plus, I am afraid when the day comes that I have read every one of her books—there is no more to come. Of course, I could just reread everything, but that would decrease the effect of her punch lines.

Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession

As indicated from the title, this book tackles everything that is satirical about motherhood. It introduces mothers who:

…hang up on E.T.
…tip the tooth fairy
…wash a measuring cup with soap after it held only water
…reply when asked what it was like to give birth to Erma Bombeck, ‘It was a rotten job, but someone had to do it.’

MTSOP 3 (cropped, copyrighted)
Me reading “Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession.”

This book is also perfect for mothers looking for courses such as:

Creative Nagging 101
Perfection: How to Get It and Convince Your Kids You’ve Got It
Threats and Promises
Guilt: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Aside from those, it also presents speeches for common household aggravations with children or teens:

“Why you cannot have a snake for a pet”
“So you’ve decided to pierce your ears”
“Do you know what time it is?”
“You want to borrow my WHAT?
“Don’t pretend you don’t know what this is all about. YOU know!”

You will also get an account of popular mothers with bad P.R.:

Snow White’s Stepmother
Cinderella’s Stepmother
Hansel and Gretel’s Stepmother

My favorite chapter of this book is on the mother named Frank. Actually, he and his wife, Ann decided to exchange roles: He’ll stay at home to take care of the kids and write a novel, while she’ll join the workforce and earn for the family. Accordingly, this decision was approved and carried out on October 15, 1979.

I had a really fun experience with this book! If ever you get your hands on one, don’t hesitate to get it!

“It’s not the job,” said Frank. “I remember when I used to come home from work and the kids would say, ‘Hi dad.’ Do you know what they say now? They come in and look me right in the eye and say, ‘Anyone home?’ I’M HOME, DAMMIT! I’M A PERSON! And they don’t see a person anymore.”

Ann shook her head. “Look around you , Frank. You’ve got a nice home, a yard, three children, freedom to do whatever you want all day. You’ve got your own car, enough appliances to open your own store, a wife who takes care of you, and a pound and a half of credit cards. I give up! I don’t know what you men want!”

Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession
Erma Bombeck
Published by Dell Publishing in 1983
page 20

When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home

The first thing I noticed about this novel (that really got me laughing), was its cover—it had a passport picture of Erma Bombeck. And boy, does she look devoid of life!

WYLLYPPITTGH 1 (copyrighted)
Kitty II doesn’t like reading satire at all.

This book, on the other hand, accounts for all the travels that Mrs. Bombeck and her family has gone though in different locations around the globe. It’s like going to more than 20 different international cities and towns with a book as a medium. What’s best about it is that you get to laugh in every key location with the hilarious experiences of the Bombeck family.

Like in the previous book, this volume also has some compilations, like the “Six Worst Arguments on Vacation” that a woman can have with her husband:

Topic: “Why can’t you admit you’re lost?”
Place: Copenhagen, Denmark
Length of Argument: 36 hours

Topic: “Only an idiot jogs here!”
Place: African bush in Kenya
Length of Argument: Three days

Topic: “I am ready to walk out the door and you have to go to the bathroom. Why am I not surprised?”
Place: Europe, Asia, Mideast, South America, South Pacific, Orient, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Mexico, Australia, and every place ever visited
Length of Argument: Time it takes to go to the bathroom

Topic: “What do you mean I don’t need a rug?”
Place: Athens, Greece
Length of Argument: Ongoing today

Topic: “I am not going scuba diving.”
Place: St. Thomas
Length of Argument: 12 hours

Topic: “I never said I’d meet you under the clock.”
Place: Shanghai, China
Length of Argument: 20 minutes at high volume, two hours in silence

Although the world has changed since 1991, this book is a good addition to any living room shelf. Although I have never traveled seriously, this book gives insight on the lighter side of being a tourist. Although I don’t have a passport yet, I kind of have idea of what my photo would look like. Already, I’m excited to have one.

Throughout the years, I have set up my own rules for eating (or not eating) food:

  • Never eat anything you can’t pronounce.
  • Beware of food that is described as, “Some Americans say it tastes like chicken.”
  • If a country does not have one single head of cattle, no ranges, and no cowboys, don’t order beef.
  • This is no time to be a sport. When they tell you the skin of what you are eating makes wonderful shoes and handbags, leave it.
  • Resist eating anything that when dropped on the floor excites the dog.
  • In countries where men wear red checkered tablecloths ion their heads, don’t order Italian.

When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home
Erma Bombeck
Published by HarperPaperbacks in 1991
page 186

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Recis Dempayos

Budding YouTuber / vlogger, occasional blogger, aspiring multimedia artist.

2 thoughts on “My Bombeckian Literary Trip”

  1. Hi Angus!

    No, I haven’t heard of any of the authors you’ve mentioned. I’ll check them out though. Thanks very much for your suggestions!

  2. Have you read any book by Umberto Eco and David Sedaris? They are really humorous without compromising intellect. However, the ultimate satirist is Jose Saramago. But he is Portuguese, so the works available to us are mere translations.

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