Emulating Erma (Eventually?)

By the time you read this, I’ll be fulfilling a long-cherished dream: going to a conference in Dayton, Ohio.

But not just any conference:  I’m attending the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, a biannual humor and human interest writing seminar.

I don’t know how you felt about Erma, but growing up as a kid I just adored her. Her humor appealed equally to my mom and me, and her deadpan delivery on her Good Morning America cracked me up. A few years ago I bought an Erma anthology and left it lying on the coffee table, and was tickled to see my kids giggling as they read through her timeless columns.

So much of her writing was memorable: the one about how she prepared for her Weight Watcher’s weigh-in by first removing her coat, then her shoes, and on down the list until she was taking out her own fillings and stray navel lint. Her husband’s ambitious but failed attempts at being handy, or her kid’s bizarre accidents and the ensuing awkwardness of filling out insurance claim forms.

Erma was funny, but she was never mean. And there was a streak of compassion in her work about a mile wide. On my best writing day, I can only hope to touch the hem of her housecoat.

Speaking of memorable writing, I’ll be converging at EBWW with some of the funniest female bloggers who have ever obsessed over Google Analytics. For your Friday procrastination and reading pleasure, here a but a few of my favorite posts from but a few of the ladies with whom I’ll be sharing rubber chicken dinners, and, by advance arrangement, any bail payments required by the Dayton Police Department.

  • Wendi Aarons, Memories of a Fanilow. I may never get to a Barry Manilow show, but I can live vicariously through a woman who carries Fanilow Credentials in her purse.
  • Peace, Love, Guacamole, Sibling Revelry. Liz is a double threat photographer/writer, and after reading this beautiful essay I actually thought for 8 seconds about having a third kid.
  • Ann Imig, Third Blogiversary “Mazel Tov.” I don’t know how she makes these videos, but I can’t get enough of them.
  • I’m Gonna Kill Him, Dead Vagina Walking. I had the ridiculous good fortune to hear Erin read this live last year at BlogHer and she had the audience on the floor. Open mic night in Dayton, y’all!
  • Good Day, Regular People, Guide to an At Home Fun Spring Break with Kids. The counterpoint to our education vacation on the road, Alexandra attempts to liven up spring break by having the kids compete to sit in front of her Seasonal Affect Disorder lightbox.
  • Anna Lefler, In Which I Sprain My Dominant Boob. Really, do I need to explain the appeal of this one further?

And one video, dedicated to my support team at home who wished me well – miss you guys and see you Sunday!

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  1. says

    Oh, man, thank you for including me in your top list among these amazing ladies! I’m having such fun here at EBWW – and glad we’ve already had a meal together!

    You rule!!



  2. says

    Lucky! Two of my favorite Erma pieces had to do with how she listed her weight on her driver’s license (Just put down the least you’ve ever weighed, they told her–so she put down her birth weight!), and how each one of her kids had a different mother…the oldest got the playful blonde, and the youngest got the one with gray hair who was tired all the time…just so GOOD!

    Hope you’re having a great time.

    • says

      One of the most charming parts of the conference was the Bombeck’s family presence throughout – including the three times her kids read their favorite columns their mom had written. The eldest son read the piece about the different mothers – you would have loved it. Not a dry eye in the house…

  3. Kimberlee says

    Just had “Lunch with Tiffany” yesterday, and I told her that your writing reminds me of Erma Bombeck! She was my FAVORITE while growing up, and you are my favorite now that I have “grown up”. Do not concern yourself with emulation, my friend, you are already there in your own unique way. My thought for the day on my little calendar last week was: “Before you try to keep up with the Joneses, be sure they’re not trying to keep up with you.” Erma Bombeck. ;]

    Your writing makes me, at times, smile, weep, and then laugh so hard that the pinot grigio comes out my nose. Mahalo.

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