Sunday, November 9, 2014


Dear Driver’s Education Instructors:
               It’s been a long time since I first sat behind the wheel and sallied forth in Sally (I named my first car “Sally” for reasons best left parked in history). A lot has changed since then.
               Motor vehicle operators in this country have all gone crazy.
               I know I can’t hold you solely responsible for all the actions of America’s drivers, but if we’re to get through this humor column, you must take part of the blame.
Let’s look at some of the driver’s education topics covered in the classroom and in-vehicle sessions, and see if we can find where things have gone wrong:
OPERATING A VEHICLE: This may be the heart of the problem.
Everything now is automatic—doors, windows, seat belts, lights, mirrors, trunks—and no keys, no cranks, no handles. How am I supposed to tear open my bag of Cheez-Its without a car key?
What about jumpstarts? There was no better way to meet strangers, when several of them would stop to help you shove your clunker just enough to coast it back to life.  And, you couldn’t beat jumpstarting as the easiest way to run over yourself --- yet another fine character-builder lost to progress.
How about ignitions? Cars should not start by pushing a button. Cars should start when you turn a key, and with another sub-zero winter upon us in this neck of the woods, they should not start when you turn a key.
(Nostalgic humorist’s digression: I remember using a rotary phone, inserting a finger into a numbered dialplate, spinning it, and repeating the process. There was a circuitous, physical search and the tactile beauty of a spring-loaded backspin. It took time. It took some effort and deliberation. Life was a slow-tracking, soft-clicking whirling wheel of anticipation and measured symmetry. Sigh.)
Today we have skid-control, satellite tracking and navigation systems, which have removed the fun & disciplines of knowing when not to apply the brakes, how to fix our own flat tires, and the origami skills needed to accordion-fold a road map and figure out how we didn’t arrive where we aren’t.
And I don’t need or want my car talking to me, especially in a human voice. If I can’t avoid this with the automobiles of today, then I want to choose the voice (Eeyore will do nicely), and I want it interactive, joining me in my futility:
“End of the road approaching, Elwin.  No hope of getting where you’re going.”
“Then, should I turn right now?”
“You could turn right here left, or turn right here right. It doesn’t matter. You’re lost.”
I would love this, because I’ve had some of my best motoring adventures when I didn’t have a clue where I was, where I was going, and I couldn’t be globally positioned from space.
And I still pine for those heady beep-less days, when my car didn’t make an audible alarm if I didn’t shut the door or buckle-up or turn off my lights or remove the key that I no longer needed.
SAFE DRIVING HABITS:  You’re charged with helping our young drivers to form driving behaviors that will keep them and the rest of us safe on the road.
I can’t believe that this instruction includes how to signal right while turning left. Or, signaling and not turning. Or, turning and not signaling. Or, not signaling, not turning, but just stopping suddenly to look at a moose.
Or, as I’ve noticed lately on the interstate, to always drive like your car’s on fire and the only way to extinguish the flames is to go whizzing by me like I was going the other way.
Please, work on it. There are too many of your graduates out here who apparently slept through the turn & burn classes.
TRAFFIC LAWS AND VIOLATIONS: This is a real challenge, because not all driving landscapes are alike, and the rules of the road must be adjusted accordingly. We all know about the Massachusetts law that prohibits you from driving with a gorilla in the back seat, but I’ve just learned that it’s illegal in New York to disrobe in a car, and in Florida, if you leave your elephant parked on the street, you must still feed the meter.
I beg you to include these in your lesson plans, and teach your students how to lawfully curb a pachyderm and keep their pet gorillas fully-clothed up front where they belong.
Yesterday, I saw a sign on one of your driver’s ed vehicles: “Student drivers make mistakes.  Please leave us a little room.”
As a driver now automatically shifting to manual, I’m hoping it’s a room with a better view.

* * * * *
Senior Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from Bethlehem, NH. His new book, “Walk Tall And Carry A BigWatering Can,” is now available.  You may contact him via his blog at Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


It is my distinct honor & pleasure to announce my marriage to Diane Lillian Church on October 31st at Runaway Pond in Glover, Vermont!

Yes, on Halloween.

Yes, at "Runaway Pond."

We could think of no better place -- at the site of what many consider Vermont's greatest (un)natural disaster -- to let loose our connubial bliss.

You may read all about the illustrious history of Runaway Pond, where a great man-made reshaping of the landscape and waterways took place in June of 1810.

Where better (and on the scariest day of the year) to form a marital partnership, than at a place where such a mighty upheaval occurred?

Perfect, said we.

We love us.  We trust that you will, too.

Elwin & Diane

Wedding of Diane L. Church and B. Elwin Sherman
Oct 31, 2014
Runaway Pond Park


My name is Joan Alexander. I am one of the Justices of the Peace here in Glover, and I am honored to officiate at this marriage of Diane and Elwin. How cool to have chosen this wild, historic spot, the site of Runaway Pond, as the place for your wedding.

What a beautiful spot to choose, surrounded by hills and trees, in the dry bed of a pond that was here until just a little over 200 years ago. The history of the place makes it a very fitting place to start a marriage.  In fact, the story of the Runaway Pond if filled with tips for a newlywed couple.

Though this is the first wedding ever to be held here (that we know of!), it is not the first celebration. In 1810, about 60 men and boys gathered here on June Training Day, a holiday some of the early settlers had brought with them from New Hampshire. They had hatched a plan to use some of the water of this pond to power the grist and saw mill just north of here—the Barton River was just a trickle after a very dry summer the year before. If they dug a trench and allowed just a little of the two billion of gallons of water in Long Pond water to flow north, all would be well. The trail along the easterly ridge through the wilderness to get here,  at Long Pond was known to some of the men—there was already a raft here for fishing—but many from further away did not know the way, and they depended on the blasts of a tin horn to find their way.

Tip #1: When obstacles are presented, be resourceful, consider all options, and be creative. Don’t feel like you have to tackle problems alone.  Don’t hesitate to call on 60 of your closest friends to help.

The boys had fun fishing, and the men commenced the dig. By lunch time, they were done—they had dug the channel to Mud Pond, just to the north over the bank, leaving just a short piece between the north end of the lake and the beginning of the trench intact, to be dug after kicking back and enjoying their lunch.

Tip #2: Even when tasks surround you, stop and take time to appreciate each other, and the fellowship of family and friends. Don’t forget to eat, drink and be merry!

After lunch, it was back to work. The trench was completed, the water started flowing, and the job was done. The men cheered and congratulated each other, and one man hopped on a tree trunk that was flowing along with the new stream for a fun ride.

Tip #3: Celebrate life and your achievements! Never lose touch of the child in you.

But within minutes, things started to go south—though in this case, it was north. The little stream of water disappeared, and then started gushing out further below, not just trickling out. The soil beneath the hardpan they had worked so hard with their picks and shovels to dig out turned to quicksand when the Long Pond waters reached it, and the whole bank was giving way. The diggers quickly realized what was happening and the danger it meant. The Pond was giving way, the stream was turning into a raging river, growing wider and wider as they watched with horror and disbelief.

Tip #4: Don’t take anything for granted. Even your best laid plans may go awry. Don’t be surprised when life throws something new at you. Rise to the challenge!

They sprung into action, hauled the log rider out of the rushing water in the nick of time by the hair on this head, and quickly considered the consequences. The miller’s wife, back at that mill—she would surely be swept to her death when all this water reached her. The miller’s husband set off running, but the men knew he would never make it. The men called him back, and started hollering for the fastest runner to go. His name was Spencer Chamberlain, and the call went out: “Run, Chamberlain, Run!”

Spencer Chamberlain was a tall, muscular man of 24, known for his strength and speed (which everyone attributed to the fact that he was part Indian.)  He took off running along the waters toward the mill, which was 5 miles north. He was able to get ahead of the rush when the trees that the waters uprooted got tangled up and created dams between the banks of the valleys and it took a while for the force of the water to break through, or when the water spread out in the flat places. In his mad rush, he lost his coat and hat. (Legend has it that he once to stopped at a home along the ridge and wolfed down a pie, and that another time he stopped for a swig of whiskey.) He reached the mill seconds before the water did, pulling the miller’s wife to safety.

Tip #5: Be brave. Be strong. Do not cower when dangers threaten. Do what you think you cannot do. Protect each other. Never turn down a piece of pie.

By nightfall, the waters had traveled in a torrent all the way to Lake Memphremagog, 26 miles away. People hearing the thunderous noise of the waters had thought it was the arrival of Judgment Day, and one preacher’s wife had taken to her bed and pulled the covers up to await death.  Along the way, one horse and some sheep had been swept to their death, several mills had been wiped out, but, miraculously, no people had been killed. The path the waters took had cleared a swath all the way to Newport, littered here and there with piles of uprooted trees.

Even though we always hear “What doesn’t kill you will make your stronger,” reports say that Spencer Chamberlain, though he did live 40 more years,  never did regain his level of strength again; the run had permanently damaged his lungs.
Tip #6: Be careful. What you say and do could be more powerful than you ever dreamed. Tread gently with each other’s feelings.

Years went by. The people of Glover came to think of the letting out of Long Pond not only as the “Wonderful Casualty” it had first been called, but as an event that brought some good things. The rushing waters had left behind lots of toppled trees and dirt and filled the swampy lands between the Glover hills. People thought the valley would now be a good place to live, and they moved down from the hills; fourteen years later, Glover village had sprung up.

Tip #7: Look for the silver lining. Grow from all the challenges you meet and rocky places you will travel. May the forces of love and caring that have brought you together sustain you in all the years to come and may your love endure. May the story of your love last through the centuries just as this story of Runaway Pond has.

Now, let’s leave the history of this place and make some new history! Diane and Elwin, you have written your own vows that you will now speak to each other.


Today, in this special place where the landscape and waterways were long ago forever changed by Man, let us pledge to forever change our lives together. Let this day be the beginning of our new world.

It makes sense to us that a piece of paper declaring a union is not the power of our binding tie. That power lies in our bodies, our hearts, our minds, our souls.

Our definition of love will be the ‘perfection of differences.’ And we will perfect our differences, over and over again, through the rest of our lives together.

We will never intentionally hurt each other, and we will be sad when we unintentionally do so. We will guard our permanence and protect our union, our freedoms, our strengths and our vulnerabilities. We will take care of each other.

We are afflicted with love, and today we vow to cure this by living in the words of the poet: “The only remedy for love, is to love more.”

And … we will laugh. We will have rhythm. And music, lots of music. And when our days together are done, the one who still lives will rejoice in the love we lived, not bemoan the love lost.

Today, we pledge ourselves to be joined forever as best friends, as only lovers, as wife and husband.



By the authority vested in me by the State of Vermont, I now pronounce you husband and wife. 

Monday, September 8, 2014


Straddlin' the Cog on "The Rock Pile."

23 windchilling degrees atop Mt. Washington.

Just another mild summer day.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


THIS COLUMN'S A BIT OF A DEPARTURE FOR ME, but If your life is touched by Parkinson's disease or other chronic illness, I hope you'll be well-served by it.

Please click on "Steps With Sam And Cecelia." 

Walk along for a bit.

      Sam and Cecilia had been together for fifty years when I entered their lives as one of Sam’s home caregivers. Sam had Parkinson’s disease. So did Cecilia. Sam’s was seated in his brain and body. Cecelia, as Sam’s lifelong partner, had it in her heart and soul.
     This is the crux of the challenge for any healthcare professional providing direct patient care in any home or clinical environment: recognizing that all our patients come to us with problems that also deeply disaffect the lives of others, and that our assessments and interventions must always include the patient’s “inner circle” of support.
     In my 35 years of nursing practice, I’ve tried to operate from a self-imposed simple premise: meet people where they are, not where you want them to be. Easy to say, but also easy to overlook when one is so focused on fixing and healing everything (as caregivers are wont to do), even when curing has been removed from the language.
     I emphasize the latter, because aside from right here, “healing” and “curing” have no business in the same sentence. I’ve witnessed extraordinary healing when curing has turned from elusive to improbable to impossible. No matter the critical mass, there is always healing to be done up to the moment of a passing … and beyond the loss, for those left behind.
     To meet people where they are, we need only call up the words of Florence Nightingale: “Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in their head: not how can I always do this right thing myself, but how can I provide for this right thing to be always done?”
     With Sam and Cecelia, this presented clearly, but a clear path alone does not provide the ability needed to navigate it. As Sam’s caregiver, my plan was to help both him and Cecelia create an environment where they could enjoy optimum quality of life, and provide times and places where they could best take what Confucius called “action steps” --- measures that helped them remain true to their true characters and life together, especially when the goals changed or became unattainable due to the intractable constraints of PD.
      Here, we needn’t belabor the host of variables that come with Parkinson’s, and how what is universal in all sufferers presents itself on so many levels. What works for one patient has little or no effect on another. Even more challenging, what works today, or even this hour to ease pain and keep one purposeful, may not work tomorrow or an hour from now.
     As time passed, I watched Sam’s form and function change. My interventions, often invented on the spot, had near miraculous effects in the resulting behaviors, or they had no impact at all. Frustrating for Sam and disheartening for Cecelia, as she watched her husband transform from the man she’d intimately known for half a century into a figure that she hardly recognized. Worse, and most difficult to bear … into a man who didn’t recognize her.
     My job (never forgetting Ms. Nightingale) was not to do the right things, but to help create ways for the right things to be always done.
     I constantly discussed Sam’s changing cognition and somatic functions with Cecelia, and we worked together to deal with what she called “little pieces of him falling away,” and to find venues that Sam could effectively use in adapting to those losses, even the ones for which he was becoming increasingly unaware.
     As he had more “freezing” episodes, we’d switch his walking cues from using a metronome, to following a laser pen light dot on the floor, to setting “the blue stick” down (a colored ruler that, when placed in front of him, somehow “triggered” his legs to move).
     Sometimes, it was as simple as a tug on his sleeve, or a repeated verbal cue, or an awful limerick, or a suggestion of a song. Sam had sung professionally for years, and giving him the opening lyric to “As Time Goes By,” could send him into a lucid and soulful rendition of it, and for reasons that only poets can explain, immediately set his feet in motion.
     Using input from Cecelia on their times gone by together, I could sidetrack Sam from his difficulty finding words which he might voice as nonsensical, by showing him old photographs, taking him for rides in the country past boyhood haunts, even once visiting the cemetery where his parents were buried, prompting him to regale me with anecdotes of them and other relatives lined up there.
     Those little reorientations helped to keep Sam Sam --- the Sam who knew Cecelia as his long-beloved, and who was still giving and receiving that love.
     Even near the end, as Sam’s tremors and halting gait increased, as his speech became softer and less intelligible, as the medications were less effective, as his windows of cognition closed, there were flashes of good humor and returns to the now.
     At one late lunch, I asked Sam how he liked the pizza. He froze, holding a slice in mid-air. Several minutes passed. We sat in silence. Finally, he grinned, looked up at me and faintly said, with just a hint of his all-Sam mischievousness: “If you’re waiting for me to speak, you might have a long wait.”
     Later, Cecelia told me: “I can see more and more that it’s becoming one step up and two steps back … but we’re still walking them together.”
     Action steps.
     Healing as time goes by.

* * * * *

Senior Wire News Service Syndicated Humor 
Columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from 
Bethlehem, NH. He is an author, humorist 
and long-time eldercare and hospice nurse. 
His latest book is “Walk Tall and Carry a Big 
Watering Can,” from Plaidswede Publishing. 
 Copyright 2014. Photo by B. Elwin Sherman. All rights 
reserved. Used here with permission.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


KUDOS TO THE LOWE'S DELIVERY GUY, when he delivered my new white stove and dishwasher, and I joked (with all the seriousness I could muster) about how they would now clash with my old black refrigerator, and what was I to do?

He deadpanned: "Learn to live with diversity."

Monday, July 14, 2014



I can appreciate people rioting over human rights abuses, animal cruelty, corporate thievery, even the loss of Twinkies, but going berserk and burning down the town because 11 guys couldn't kick a dimpled ball into a giant mosquito net ... well ... I'll never get it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


CAUGHT THIS DUFFER obliviously practicing his chip shot on the Franconia, NH gliderport runway.

Well, you have your flight path, and I have mine.



Sunday, June 15, 2014


LAST NOVEMBER 18th, my son Rory became a father with the arrival of Norah. Happy First Father's Day! Many, many more!

 (I know it doesn't seem possible now, but some day she'll be asking you for the car keys. Not too early to start getting your mind right for that....)

Monday, June 9, 2014


A FAVORITE MOMENT from the Montshire Museum of Science yesterday.  I was admiring the hive at the honeybee exhibit, when this lovely young lady poked me in the arm and quite seriously asked: "Why are you a man?"

So, I replied: "I guess for the same reason that a bee is a bee!"  That satisfied her, and off she went.

My fault for taking up all the space on the kid seat.

Monday, June 2, 2014


            Printed words are my business, and though they are often a poor way to communicate (I find that a well-timed forehead thwap at an opportune moment will accomplish far more than a mere adjective modifying an improper noun against a snooty verb), I must resort to using them here.
          That’s why, when I read that a celebrity couple recently announced their celebrity separation as a “conscious uncoupling” (thwap), I couldn’t sit idly by. I owe you that much. They unveiled this in public, celebrity-style, by telling everyone who'd listen on every talk show on every channel that it was a private matter and nobody’s business.
          That's how celebrities operate.
          The inverse-prone humorist half of my brain pricked up my ears when I heard it, and I had to say it out loud:
          Conscious uncoupling.
          This prompted the science half of my brain to take over, as Newton’s Third Law rushed in. As reason would have it, if we are now out there not ending, but rather “consciously uncoupling” our relationships, then it must be that somewhere along the way, we “unconsciously coupled.”
          All I could think of was that sobered-up morning aftershock & awe one suffers when one discovers an X-rated Yosemite Sam tattooed upon one’s thigh, and no idea how it got there. Or, when one wakes up to find one’s self married or enlisted in the French Foreign Legion.
          For every impaction, there is an equal and opposite extraction. My column. My physics. Sorry, Sir Isaac.
          I was then compelled, as I always am whenever faddish sanitizations of my beloved language thwap me on the forehead, to do a little research. Dangerous, because it makes the thing sillier than I thought possible, but humor is fraught with peril.
          Yep, there it is: an article on how we’ve socio-politically corrected the word “divorce.”
          “Say, did you hear that Jack and Jill were getting divorced?”
          “No, but I do know they were thinking of consciously uncoupling.”
          Anyone who thinks in terms like this should be required never to talk. Anyone who talks like this should be used as a pie-fight test dummy.
          The author then explained this new “conscious uncoupling” babblespeak, citing an essay written by a long-dead Russian esotericist, who described how millions of years ago, dragonflies had three-foot wingspans and look what happened to them.
          (I did warn you that research in the hands of an adept humorist was dangerous.)
          As I allowed my scientific researching half-brain to run amok, I found the next logical status quote abuse lurking in the lexicon. Yes, alas and alacrity, prepare thyselves, my dear readers, because there is a female blogger out there who is reporting her pending conscious uncoupling as a “marriage unengagement.”
          Thwap. Thwap. Thwap.
          There is also a psychotherapist in our midst with several hifalutin’ letters after her name who has now designed a 5-week seminar for the looming lovelorn entitled “The Art Of Conscious Completion.”
          Again, I can’t resist now presuming that a best-selling “The Science Of Unconscious Incompletion” is waiting in the wings. And, given the latest pop-obsession we have over dietary restrictions, it will no doubt come with a gluten-free dust jacket.
          This all started in the language, of course, when you bought that certified previously-owned vehicle and drove it to transport your trash to a transfer station recycling center. Don’t look now, but as a still-living American exotericist, I refuse to muddy-up how I arrange words and the spaces between them.
          Come Saturday, I’m still simple-slanging it and going to the dump in a used car.
          Let’s just hope that I at least unconsciously remember to completely couple my trailer. 
* * * * *

Senior Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from Bethlehem, NH. His new book, “Walk Tall And Carry A Big Watering Can,” is now available.  You may consciously contact him via his blog here at Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Dear Mom:
            The earliest reference I find to Mother’s Day is 250 B.C., when a Roman religious festival honoring the Mother Goddess Cybele was held.  It lasted for three days, and was known as “Hilaria.”
            I’d wish you a Happy Hilaria, but let’s not provoke that look … the one I called “the hairy eyeball,” … the one you leveled in my direction whenever I acted up.  However, I do blame you for helping to set me upon this path.
            How do I love and link to thee?  Let us count the ways and means:
            ---  For taking untold hours to make my Good King Wenceslas costume for an elementary school Christmas play, only to have your terrified, speechless monarch outrun his cues and exit stage right, leaving the Feast Of Stephen uneaten and the peasants rolling in the aisles.
            ---  For not suffering an apoplectic fit (at least in my presence) when you came out to the clothesline, looked up and saw me sitting thirty feet above you on the end of the barn roof, straddling the peak and holding an open umbrella.
            ---  For making me believe that the square bowl and asymmetrical bookends I created in woodshop and bestowed upon you as Hilarian tributes were the maternal keepsake equivalents of Stradavarians.
            ---  For holding the bucket when I overdosed on Hostess Snowballs.
            ---  For not complaining about the laundry or calling me a meathead when I was convinced I’d broken my foot in a fall and hobbled around the house with a stick crutch, doing my best wounded Long John Silver impression and insisting upon wearing six colored socks secured with your nylon stocking in a simulated peg-leg.
            ---  For not laughing out loud when I announced that I wanted to be the first astronaut to juggle bowling pins in zero gravity.
            ---  For not crying out loud when I rehearsed this by juggling the good china in earth gravity.
            ---  For helping me get through the Great Pet Massacre, when the family dog got into the barn and chewed all my pet rabbits into furblivion.
            ---  For not selling me to Gypsies (I always believed this was a parental option Plan B) when you found out I’d been emptying Dad’s electric razor into the peppershaker.
          ---  For mending the fences, tending the fires, warming the cockles, baking the biscuits, planting the seeds, running the gauntlets, burying the bones, sewing the buttons, paying the pipers, fluffing the pillows, minding the P’s and Q’s ... and helping me become what I am today.
            Uh-oh.  Here comes that look again.
            Happy Hilaria, Mom.

* * * * *
Senior Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from Bethlehem, NH. His new book, “Walk Tall And Carry A Big Watering Can,” is now available.  You may contact him via his blog here at Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.
* * * * * 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


     Another birthday, and I always mark the occasion by reflecting on what was, what is, and what will be, with or without me. I do try to avoid my literal reflection in the mirror, because I can’t get past the feeling that I’m shaving my Dad’s face.
       I started with what is, and had a look at the day’s headlines. I knew this was a mistake when I quickly realized that I’d either lived too long or not long enough, because I no longer felt shockable. I was especially not shocked by any headline containing the word “shocking.” And, today, I found four of them:
       1. “The Shocking Truth About Nine Foods You Thought Were Vegetarian.”
        I was right. I read the story. I looked at the photos. I examined the evidence. I wasn’t shocked.
       True enough, I didn’t know that some bagels contained duck feathers, or that marshmallows came from pig bones, or that certain beer makers “clarified” their stouts with fish bladders. Yawn. We live in a country where deep-fried butter-on-a-stick is a favorite at state fairs, so you’ll have to do better than that. 
       2.  “Meet The Shocking Real-Life Barbie Doll.”
       It seems that a young Ukrainian woman has made it her life’s mission to re-shape herself, physically and mentally, into the iconic doll’s image. I so wanted to be shocked when she also announced that her goal is to become a “Breathairian” (someone who believes they can subsist solely on light and air), and that she’s undergoing hypnotherapy sessions “to help me become more brainless,” but I wasn’t.
       (Humorist disclaimer: Right about here, it’s always useful to remind you that I don’t have to invent this stuff. The easiest way to write a humor column is to simply report the truth.)
       3.  “The Shocking Evidence Of Alien Cow Abductions.”
       Yes, there it is, with that viral video of a cow being beamed up into a hidden spaceship from an English pasture.
       Newsworthy, maybe even hilarious, but shocking? Hardly. Bovine herders have been dealing with their beasts being skyjacked for some time now. Some have taken to camouflaging the cattle with fake grass blankets or attaching antlers to their heads in apparently futile attempts to thwart the extraterrestrial cow-nappings.
       Maybe it’s me, but I suspect that any little green beef-crazed creatures capable of inter-galactic exploration wouldn’t be hoodwinked by phony cow horns or artificial turf disguises. It’s also a fact that nearly four million people in this country have reported being personally visited by space travelers, but I can show you how that number closely relates to our Election Day results, so just move along. Nothing to be shocked by here.
       4.  “Identity Theft Is Shockingly High.”
       Not only is this not shocking, but it’s even less shocking that the billions lost in identity theft is offset by the billions we spend protecting ourselves from identity theft.
       I nipped this in the bud many birthdays ago, when my credit card company called and tried to sell me identity theft protection insurance. I told them: “Every day I hope that someone steals my identity. Then, you can send them my bills.”
       “Uh … that’s not the way it works, Mr. Sherman.”
       “Mr. Sherman? You’ve got the wrong guy.”
       As for my reflections on birthdays long past, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for my shockable boyhood years. I remember being shocked when I was told that male seahorses gave birth. This was about the same time I was shocked to learn that I’d been delivered here by Mother Pauline, not a stork dropping me on the doorstep because she’d put chocolate on the windowsill.
       Now, for the future? I am hoping that something, somewhere, should I make it through another birthday or two, restores my ability to be shocked, but I’m not optimistic.
       I’ve just not been shocked again by reading that a South Carolina man attempted to cash a trillion-dollar bill at a restaurant, an elected self-described devout “Pastafarian” was sworn-in to his new post on the Town Board in Pomfret, New York, while wearing a spaghetti strainer on his head, and a Russian man stabbed his friend as they argued over whether poetry was more important than prose.
       I’m reserving my shock for when they’re all abducted by an alien Barbie in a cow suit.

* * * * *
Senior Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from Bethlehem, NH. His new book, “Walk Tall And Carry A Big Watering Can,” is now available.  You may contact him via his blog here at Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.

* * * * * 

Sunday, February 16, 2014


No caption necessary....
 Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick
(Thanks to Brad Fitzpatrick, cartoonist/illustrator extraordinaire, who rendered this timely image of me frozen atop my Harley for a Last Laugh humor column in NH Magazine.  Used here with permission.
  Copyright 2014 by Brad Fitzpatrick.) 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


FOUND THIS OLD SIGN at the dump, and though the days when some strapping eager young person would arrive at your door, shovel in hand, offering to dig you out are long-gone, I put it in my window, anyway.

Besides, I just checked the weather report, and I'm in denial.

Saturday, February 8, 2014



Fifty years ago, John, Paul, George & Ringo landed in America. I remember Dad at supper asking me and sister Sue: "Did you hear about a new band called 'The Beatles'"?

What a long strange magical mystery tour it's been since then.

Monday, February 3, 2014


I DIDN'T WATCH THE SUPERBLOWOUT, but I did see the news today on Bob Dylan's automobile commercial. Every day, more evidence that I've lived too long. The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the windshield....

Sunday, February 2, 2014



NOW, the "health experts" are telling me never to reuse my bath towel or walk in my bathroom barefoot, don't shampoo daily, always throw out my loofa after a week, trim my shower curtain, microwave my toothbrush, squat don't sit and wash don't wipe when I poop, and always put the lid down before I flush.

And, insomnia will make me fat.  Caffeine and chocolate ARE good for me (they change that position every other year), I SHOULD eat more (or fewer) nuts, drink more (or less) red wine, and now that another decade has passed, it's gone back to brush my teeth side-to-side, NOT up and down.

Howinhell have I lived this long....

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


"Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don't.  Songs won't save the planet, but neither will books or speeches."   --- Pete Seeger

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Dear Chase Crook & Ketchum Credit Card Company:

In today’s mail, I received an invitation to sign up for your new credit card. I should say that my humor columnist husband B. Elwin Sherman received it, addressed to me, because I stopped sending and getting mail in April of 2012 WHEN I PASSED AWAY. Apparently, somewhere in your indiscretionary mad marketing database, you missed that little detail.
I do, however, appreciate your consideration of including a special reservation number and access code assigned to me alone, but I must tell you that I no longer need reservations or codes. Wherever I exist now, my space is always reserved and I have free access to everything.
Pretty cool, eh? And, speaking of temperature, you have my sympathies, because I know that you’re not the only entity having problems distinguishing between what the federal government calls the “living dead” and the “dead living.” Millions of dollars were wrongly paid out (or not) to both of these groups last year, and one aid program spent nearly four million dollars on the heating and/or air conditioning bills of dead people.
And, because of the bureaucratic snafus common in such government enterprises, the air conditioning bill payments were sent to Heaven, and the heating bill money went straight to Hell. I might suggest that you send your generous offer to both God and Satan, who could each respectively use a good and evil line of credit about now.
I’ll leave Elwin with the stick-‘em-up choice of your money or your afterlife. He holds with Mark Twain, who refused to commit to either Paradise or Perdition “because I have friends in both places.”
But, let’s look at your offer:
You would charge me “No annual fee.” Sorry, but this is meaningless to me as an eternity dweller, where every second is indistinguishable from an eon.
    You would grant me “Zero percent APR” for a year, after which my rate “will increase to 22.9 percent.” Again, having no time constraints where I currently reside, I might not be your most preferred customer. As for the 22.9 percent interest rate, well, let’s just say that I know of many applicants who operated such greedy business practices on earth, and they were not only denied admittance here, but were cast into the nether regions before they even reached the front gates.
    You also offer me “A higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time.” I suspect that this is to insure that I will use said increased credit to rack up a hefty debt by the time my interest rate shoots to loan shark proportions.
  As noted above, this is not only a temporal miscalculation, but I have a limitless supply of silver bricks and gold cobblestones at my disposal, and now that I think about it, that’s probably why you’ve targeted me for this higher line of credit, despite my ethereal unaccountability.
You must also accept that when it comes to levels of ascension, you’re rank amateurs in defining what constitutes “higher.” Trust me, I’m as high as I’ll ever need to be.
  You guarantee me “Zero dollar liability” if my card is ever lost or stolen. I haven’t laughed so hard all week (or was that an era?). Here, I have no possessions except these wings, and should one break off, it would grow back immediately. There are also no thieves here, but you might check with your brethren in that other place.
  You state that the interest rate for my introductory purchase is “0.00000 percent.” Good for another good guffaw, if you’re attempting to indicate that a mere five zeroes constitutes infinity. What rookies.
  My last laugh comes from your inclusive offer to choose my own card design. You show me serene scenes of flying eagles, tropical sunsets, starry nights, full-blooming roses, and dolphins leaping in sunrise, any of which I may choose as my credit card tableau.
  Why should I immortalize these things on plastic, which doesn’t exist here, when I’m surrounded by them whenever I wish?
Well, I’m kidding about all this, of course. After all, I was happily married to B. Elwin Sherman, and I couldn’t boast that privilege without having been a fun-loving consumer, but I’m gone from your material world of grub and grab, and live on now only in his fond memory of me, where no maximum credit ever comes due, and no minimum debit is ever needed.
At the end of your letter, I see in your Frequently Asked Questions list where customers want to know if and when you can change their account terms. You reply: “We will send you notice before doing so.”
For Elwin’s sake, I’d be in your debt (the whole point of your solicitation) if you’d kindly check the forwarding address first.
  Eternally mine, Judith.

* * * *
Senior Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist writes from Bethlehem, NH.  Copyright 2014 by B. Elwin Sherman.  All rights reserved.  His new book: Walk Tall and Carry A Big Watering Can,” is now available. 
 You may contact him here.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick Copyright 2014
   (This column is appearing in "The Last Laugh" in the February 2014 issue of

* * * *

Winter in New Hampshire is an opportune time to examine how memory works. Nothing suits our shut-in cabin fever chills better than pondering the imponderable.
Now, if you’re “from away,” and before you get your indignant union suit flaps in a bunch, I’m not claiming that snowbound souls in other parts of the world don’t similarly suffer through their cold and dark seasons, but New Hampshire is unique in its terrain, and Granite Staters independent in their temperaments.
Nothing runs east and west here, and except for intersections, everything is a four-way stop (pardon my metaphor, but that should take care of both our geography and our mindsets).
New Hampshire winter living is best exemplified by looking at the different ways men and women remember. Let’s take Samuel and Jenny, lifelong NH residents and real friends of mine, but not their real names. I promised them that I’d never tell about their methodology and practice of effectively dealing with the artful dodge of recollection.
In this case, how they both solve the problem of finding lost things.
In this lower case, their cars.
Like the rest of us ruralites, their short-term memories are short-circuited by big full parking lots. When they go to a department store separately and search for a front door-approximate parking space, and before having to settle for a spot halfway to Massachusetts, they’ll first circumnavigate the area a minimum of ten times. Not their fault. It’s the law.
Samuel, upon leaving the store and remembering that he forgot where he parked, will apply geometric deduction and begin to hike the outer perimeter, maintaining a purposeful stride, refining his search into smaller concentric paths until he happens upon his vehicle.
Or, true to manly form, he will assume it’s been towed or stolen. Or, he will convince himself that he’s finally slipped into dementia, and when it’s all over, he’s checking in for that brain scan. Or, a variation of all of the above.
As a male, his primary goal is not to find his car, but to insure that no one notices his predicament, much the same way that the goal of fishing is not to catch a fish, but rather to be fishing.
Jenny, however, will simply apply the natural prowess that women have for problem-solving:
She will not care if anyone notices her dilemma, and will in fact make a show of her haplessness, especially if it’s nearing the end of a long day. At the height of our winter, that is equivalent to its beginning (see: four-way stops).
This unabashed display of her obvious befuddlement will often attract another woman who has also misplaced her vehicle, and they’ll each go off in search of the other’s. When this fails and they reconnoiter at the storefront, they’ll draw upon the supreme logic that only women possess (I will not debate the political correctness of that assertion, so don’t even try it).
They’ll go to a nearby restaurant, sit contented and commiserating in a warm booth facing the parking lot … and simply wait for everyone else to drive away.
High and low and behold, their cars eventually materialize.
Now, if I’m remembering correctly from last winter, this is how to best make it through until spring.
* * * *
Senior Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist writes from Bethlehem, NH.  Copyright 2014 by B. Elwin Sherman.  All rights reserved.  His new book: “Walk Tall and Carry A BigWatering Can,” is now available. 
 You may contact him here.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Back in the day, when my sister Sue was sound asleep, I'd sneak into her room, put on "Wake Up Little Susie", crank up the phonograph and stand back

Thanks for the memories, Phil & Don.

Phil Everly: 01/19/39 --- 01/03/14.