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.