Friday, March 27, 2015

"DEAR WITBONES" --- Big Rhode Island Nibbles


             "Dear Witbones -- Ask A Humorist!” is B. Elwin Sherman's agony uncle advice column for the laughlorn. Today's Witboner:
 "Big Rhode Island Nibbles." 

   
   DEAR WITBONES:
     My wife and I are writing from Rhode Island, and we can tell you that we’re sick and tired of being the butt of “small” jokes.  We love our state, we don’t FEEL small, and we want all this smalltalk to stop! ---  BIGGER IN BARRINGTON

        Dear BIGGER:  Let’s help settle this once and for all.  Firstly, any non-islandic state with an “island” in its name, already has more built-in grandeur than the rest of us combined.  Start there.  Rhode Island has more big-ness about it in many areas, and the next time you feel diminished by a “small” joke, fight back with some of these:
       You have more doughnut/coffee shops per capita than any other state.  That big fact alone already has me pondering relocation there.  As a humorist, I couldn’t muse without my morning java & pastry, so I’d find inspiration knowing that a resource was always close by.  I’ve also just learned that coffee milk is Rhode Island’s “official state drink.”
       Now I’m practically packing my bags.
       You’re also home to “Nibbles Woodaway,” known formerly as “The Big Blue Bug.”  At 4,000 pounds and 58-feet long, it is easily the world’s largest termite, found on I-95 in Providence (Google it, folks).  Take THAT, Texas!   Go FISH, Florida!
       And, if we’re talking proportions, your “Ocean State” has the largest coastline percentage of any state in the U.S., though you’ll never get California to admit it.
       You may be the smallest in size, but you're the second most densely populated.  Only New Jersey knows how to pack 'em in better than you, and ... well ... they're New Jersey.
       Rhode Island also has more existing 100-year old homes than the rest of us, easily making you the king of local landmarks, and because of your little bigness, anyone staying in Rhode Island can visit your whole state in the least amount of time.  That gives vacationing tourists more bangs for their rubbernecking bucks than they’ll get anywhere else, and with always a doughnut and coffee right around the corner.
       Biggest in my book.
       Stand tall!  Be small!
       Thanks for WITBONING, and keep me posted.

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Copyright 2015 by B. Elwin Sherman. All rights reserved. Questions for his agony uncle “WITBONES - Ask A Humorist!" column may be submitted to: WITBONES, c/o B. Elwin Sherman, P.O. Box 300, Bethlehem, NH, 03574. Or, you may e-mail Elwin via his Witbones.com blog.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"DEAR WITBONES" --- Lady Fingers Clip Joint


             "Dear Witbones -- Ask A Humorist!” is B. Elwin Sherman's agony uncle advice column for the laughlorn. Today's Witboner:
 "Lady Fingers Clip Joint." 

   
     DEAR WITBONES:
            Recently, I treated a young friend to lunch at a special, very expensive restaurant to celebrate the successful end of her school term. Our food looked delicious when it arrived, but one of the almonds in my baby spinach salad was too hard to chew and turned out to be a false fingernail! I tucked it into my napkin and didn't mention it to anyone as I didn't want to ruin the festive occasion.
            My problem now is that she's written to ask if she can take ME to dinner after her graduation ... at this same restaurant! I don't want to tell her what happened there, but I can't bring myself to go back. What should I do?  --- FINGER FOODS IN FREEPORT

            DEAR FINGER FOODS:  First, congratulations to you for not making a scene at the time, but had you acted reflexively by shrieking “HEY! What’s this freakin’ fake fingernail doing in my spinach?!” ... none of us would have blamed you.
            Indeed, it must have taken all your composure to finish the meal without letting on or showing your disgust. I'd like to know how you got through an entree & dessert without imagining all kinds of suspect culinary intruders.Was that an eyelash in your vitello tonnato? Could that extra crunch in your chocolate chestnut cake have been a stud earring? Try not to think about it.
            Yes, obviously, you can't return there. Your friend wouldn't understand why you're scrutinizing every dish like a mad scientist and demanding an up-close inspection of all ten fingers and both ears & eyes of your server. But, you will need a good reason to redirect both of you to an alternate eatery. Try this:
            Tell her that you've developed deipnophobia --- a rare, abnormal fear of dinner conversation --- and that you wouldn't want to ruin your meal together by being mute.  I'd suggest a ride on the nearest rollercoaster (the whippy upside-down, 'round and 'rounder kind). For me, this is always my best last resort fix, no matter the problem, when all else fails. There's precious little that a few intimate shared g-forces won't cure, and you won't want dinner first, anyway.
            Thanks for Witboning, and keep me posted.
         
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Copyright 2015 by B. Elwin Sherman. All rights reserved. Questions for his agony uncle “WITBONES - Ask A Humorist!" column may be submitted to: WITBONES, c/o B. Elwin Sherman, P.O. Box 300, Bethlehem, NH, 03574. Or, you may e-mail Elwin via his Witbones.com blog.   

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"DEAR WITBONES" --- Look At This Out Loud!


             "Dear Witbones -- Ask A Humorist!” is B. Elwin Sherman's agony uncle advice column for the laughlorn. Today's Witboner:
 "Look At This Out Loud!" 

   
     DEAR WITBONES:
            I am an old man. How old? Here's how old: something is happening to me now that started some time ago as an occasional thing, but now it goes on all the time. People talk to me like I'm hard of hearing or senile, shouting at me and/or speaking very slowly. What can I do about it? It makes me mad and depressed.  What can I say to these people without offending them? --- NOT DUMB OR DEAF IN DANVILLE

            DEAR NOT DUMB OR DEAF:  Let's start at the end of your letter, and begin with you not worrying about offending anyone who begins their conversation by offending you. They could use some enlightenment, if not a comeuppance. Instead, it's time for you to have some fun with this.
            In defense of people (always a hard thing for me to do, but I try), they mean well most of the time. For instance, people often turn to me for help because I’m a writer, so they believe that I must know the difference between an assumption and a presumption.
            Turns out I do, but I try not to lord it over anyone. I could assume, for example, based on the scant evidence you’ve provided, that you look and act like a rickety-pickety, crotchety old wretch of a man who mostly ignores everyone, drives for miles with his turn signal on, makes awful noises when he eats, wears mismatched socks and talks to himself in public, but I shouldn't presume that.
            It’s clear, however, that you have become a victim of the all-too-common discrimination of ageism. I can safely presume that.
            But, before you go much further, you should make sure that you’re NOT hard of hearing.  People may be yelling at you because you’re not otherwise reacting to them. How else would you know?  Go get your hearing checked.  I’ll wait.
            Now, all okay?  CAN…YOU…HEAR…ME?  PUT YOUR GLASSES ON!
            (Sorry, I couldn't resist, but as an advancing upper middle-ager, I'm simpatico and entitled.)
            I did mean what I said up there, though. You do need to give up the anger and despair, and instead turn this into a source of entertainment for you. Have fun. BE fun.
            Next time you’re spoken to like you’re … well … as you say: dumb and deaf, try this: 
            Stranger:  “EX…CUSE…ME, SIR.  ARE…YOU…LOST?”
            You:  “No, I’m tense, but it’s okay.  I've been in the past, tense; I’m now in the present, tense, but once you screw off I won’t be in the future, tense.” 
            Think about this for a while, and come up with your own little list of snappy retorts. You could also take the initiative on occasion, and speak softly to a stranger, whispering something, anything. It doesn't matter. Most people now, as you yourself painfully report, increasingly think you’re damaged goods, anyway. When they apologize (and they will) for not being able to understand you, simply yell: “WHAT ARE YOU … DUMB AND DEAF?”
            Thanks for Witboning, and keep me posted.

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Copyright 2015 by B. Elwin Sherman. All rights reserved. Questions for his agony uncle “WITBONES - Ask A Humorist!" column may be submitted to: WITBONES, c/o B. Elwin Sherman, P.O. Box 300, Bethlehem, NH, 03574. Or, you may e-mail Elwin via his Witbones.com blog.   

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"DEAR WITBONES" --- Does Your Wife Wear A Helmet?

"Dear Witbones -- Ask A Humorist!” is B. Elwin Sherman's agony uncle advice column for the laughlorn. Today's Witboner:
"Does Your Wife Wear A Helmet?" 
 
           
            DEAR WITBONES:
            I am about to become a remarried woman heading into my late middle-aged years. When I tell my friends and colleagues that they’ll need to update their address books and email files with my new last name after my wedding, I am frequently asked (and rather aggressively, too), "Why will you change your name?! You don’t have to do that, you know!" It’s really beginning to bother me. I have a hard time explaining it, and I’m tired of trying. Can you help me with a response?  --- NOM DE GROOM IN GRAFTON
           
            DEAR NOM: History is full of research on this subject, and your problem prompted me to look at some of it, discovering what is and has been lawful & traditional through the centuries and around the world.
            Well, I’m not going to get into any of that. You can Google “maiden name” and get the same 29,100,000 results that I did.  You’re clearly here looking for some quick & practical retorts for your cronies, and you’re in luck, because I too am “heading into my late middle-aged years” and have recently remarried.
            Before we wed, I non-aggressively asked Diane Lillian Church if she was planning to change her name.  I told her I was okay with whatever she decided. She said that she wanted to be Mrs. Sherman.  When I asked her why (again, without a hint of aggression), she said “because I want to be.”
            Now, I didn’t get this far in life without knowing when to stop priming the pump, so I let it be right there. But, I sense that this is the same response you’ve been giving your friends and colleagues, and it’s leaving you peeved and them unsatisfied.
            I’d be remiss in my agony uncle duty if I didn’t let you know that you do have other options besides a complete birth name surrender and a new designation. You could use your maiden name as your new middle name. Or, in nine states, your husband could change his last name to yours.  Or (my favorite) you could legally “blend” your names.
            If Diane and I had wanted, we could now be the Churchmans or the Shmurches, or we could’ve even anagrammed Church/Sherman and re-dubbed ourselves: Mr. & Mrs. Hunchcharmers.  We actually did discuss doing the latter, as a way to create exactly the kind of thing that you’re trying to avoid.  A little public and private spectacle on occasion is good for the soul:
            “Hunchcharmers?  Party of two?”
            Now, what to say to anyone who demands to know why you’re electing to drop your surname? How should you respond when they tell you that you don’t have to do that?  Hmmm ….
            When I’m out on the Harley pulled over somewhere, and someone inevitably makes it their business to know why I’m not wearing a helmet, I stare at them with as much mock shock as I can muster, and say, “You mean … they make HELMETS??”
            Try a variation of this with your contacts.
            Thanks for Witboning, Mrs. de Groom, and keep me posted.


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Copyright 2015 by B. Elwin Sherman. All rights reserved. Questions for his agony uncle “WITBONES - Ask A Humorist!" column may be submitted to: WITBONES, c/o B. Elwin Sherman, P.O. Box 300, Bethlehem, NH, 03574. Or, you may e-mail Elwin via this Witbones.com blog.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"DEAR WITBONES" --- I Kid You Not

"Dear Witbones -- Ask A Humorist!” is B. Elwin Sherman's agony uncle advice column for the laughlorn. Today's Witboner:
"I Kid You Not." 
 
           
            DEAR WITBONES:
            My kids are all grown up but they won't leave home.  I've hinted and hinted that it's time for them to get out on their own, but they show no signs of moving.  I thought these would be my Golden Years, but I'm still shelling out money for gas, groceries, and I can never find my remote control.  What to do?--- OLD MOTHER HUBBARD IN HAZELWOOD

            DEAR OLD MOTHER: If you're in your "Golden Years," then your kids must still be living at home in their fifties.  I'm not surprised that you've lost your remote control, because that's obviously the only kind of control you've had for some time.
     If these middle-aging offspring haven't gotten the "hints" by now, they never will.  At this late date, it's time for radical  measures.  If you want them to change their lives, you must drastically change yours.  Suggestions?
     Stop buying groceries and remove your car battery.
     Start a naked tuba society and/or a bagpipes band and have nightly rehearsals at your home.
     When you write-in six months from now complaining that you never see your children anymore, we'll deal with it.
     Thanks for Witboning, and keep me posted.
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Copyright 2015 by B. Elwin Sherman. All rights reserved. Questions for his agony uncle “WITBONES - Ask A Humorist!" column may be submitted to: WITBONES, c/o B. Elwin Sherman, P.O. Box 300, Bethlehem, NH, 03574. Or, you may e-mail Elwin via this Witbones.com blog.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"DEAR WITBONES" --- Civil Food Wars


             "Dear Witbones -- Ask A Humorist!” is B. Elwin Sherman's agony uncle advice column for the laughlorn. Today's Witboner:
 "Civil Food Wars." 
           
            DEAR WITBONES:
            My husband and I are visiting my old college roommate and her family over the winter holidays. They relocated to a southern state so we’re really appreciating spending part of December and January in a warmer climate. My one complaint is about the food.  We all grew up in New Hampshire, so you'd think she'd remember to prepare meals we are all familiar and comfortable with rather than these strange southern dishes! How can I gently suggest this to her before our next visit? --- NO APPETITE IN NEW ORLEANS

            DEAR NO APPETITE:  As a fellow Granite Stater, I've got to stop you right there and “gently suggest” that you pack up your attitude and come home.  If your old friend had wanted her life to remain “familiar and comfortable,” she wouldn't have given up corn chowda and Yankee Doodle Noodles for jambalaya and crawfish pie.
            You’re her guests.  You’re living on the cheap in a nice climate while I’m back up here chipping off my mustachicles with a spoon.  My advice?
          Be gracious, be grateful, quit whining and learn to love gumbo.
            Thanks for Witboning, and keep me posted.

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Copyright 2015 by B. Elwin Sherman. All rights reserved. Questions for his agony uncle “WITBONES - Ask A Humorist!" column may be submitted to: WITBONES, c/o B. Elwin Sherman, P.O. Box 300, Bethlehem, NH, 03574. Or, you may e-mail Elwin via his Witbones.com blog.