Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Little Entries That Couldn't

I Prefer The Term "Winning-Adjacent"

Every couple of years, the public library in Centerville, Ohio hosts the Erma Bombeck Writing Contest and blahblahblah I didn't win. And neither did some of my very funny and talented blog buds.

But. That. Is. Oh. KAY. [cleansing breath!]

Now, what to do with our contest entries? It seems wrong to let them languish in their high-security, climate-controlled storage facility at undisclosed coordinates beneath the Rocky Mountains. Nay, nay! The essays must be free to roam the countryside, assailing passersby at will with their good natured, domestic humor.

And so it was that, as we bitched moaned commiserated over a few rounds of apple-boilermaker-tinis, the Leftovers Tour was born:

4 women.

4 blog
s.

4 victory-challenged Erma Bombeck essays.



Joins us on this teeny-tiny tour as we each post our essays and share our individual interpretations of Erma Bombeck's legendary style, wit and warmth.

I've been an Erma Bombeck fan since I was 12 years old. Th
is essay is my homage to the great lady who, as far as I'm concerned, started it all.


__________________________________________________

Uptight, Outta Sight
by Anna Lefler


When my purse spilled in the grocery store yesterday, I could tell by the looks on the other shoppers' faces that not everyone carries around a snakebite kit, road flares and freeze-dried astronaut food.

"I like to be prepared," I explained as I crouched to gather my belongings. "Now, who wants to help me fold my emergency hypothermia blanket?"

I am not a spontaneous person. I need to know what's coming—kind of like NORAD in mom jeans.

While other mothers seem to roll with ease through a day of instant playdates, pop-in neighbors and the last-minute duty of sewing a dozen liederhosen for third-grade Oktoberfest, my default response to a sleepover request from one of my children is, "What, this month? We're not ready!"

Grown-up events are no different.

"We should have a dinner party," I said to my husband last week.

"Oh, no you don't," he replied, his eyelid fluttering like Scarlet O'Hara's hankie. "I'm not falling for that again."

"Are you still grumpy because I asked for a little help last time?"

"The way I remember it, I was bludgeoned into painting the kitchen, sodding the front lawn and replumbing the powder room. And for what? The pleasure of listening to three couples brag about their children's standardized test scores while implying that our kids would be lucky to find work in a Bolivian mining operation."

It's true that I tend to overdo the preparations. It's compensation for the fact that I am not a natural hostess—one of those women who emerged from the womb clutching a pitcher of perfect martinis in one hand and a three-bean salad in the other. As someone better suited to throwing together a load of laundry than an impromptu supper with friends, I am in awe of some women's uncanny knack for effortless entertaining.

There is nothing effortless about my entertaining. My uncanny knack is selecting a recipe that seems manageable at first, then turns on me like a rabid dog two hours before my guests are due. Nothing saps my hostess mojo like the chilling realization at recipe step number nineteen that not only do I not know what a "rouelle" is, I also have no idea how to "flonday" it.

I suppose I should just accept that I'm not a spontaneous, easygoing person who thrives in the social flow, but rather an uptight person whose idea of "me" time is smearing my chin with hair-removal cream then vacuuming the coffee table.

Don't get me wrong—you're welcome to come over, but could you call first? I'd like to polish the houseplants before you get here.

___________________________________________

The Leftovers Tour:
Because Failure Is Its Own Success

Click on the links below to read entries
from these very funny ladies:





** Erma fans will also want to read the lovely tribute post written by Jennifer Sutton at These Are Days.

[This post brought to you by the colors avocado and harvest gold.]



60 comments:

Mary K Brennan said...

From one Erma Bombeck fan to another: "Apparently the judges were not thinking straight when they passed up this entry.
I'm still amazed with Mom's who can manage cupcake duty with little to no preparation.
I go by the 3 month window rule. I need at least that much time to prepare.
That may have been the reason barbeque was served at my Christmas Party this year.

Cheryl said...

Some days I think in Bombeck titles. A bajillion years ago as a teen, I read her books as soon as my mother was done with them. I think she helped me form my belief system. Being organized is overrated, dinner parties are irrelevant, and carrying a snakebite kit is perfectly normal.

Pearl said...

Well I woulda voted for you!

Pearl

p.s. I will be at the conference in April as well. Shall we hook up and make fun of something? :-)

WA said...

"...whose idea of "me" time is smearing my chin with hair-removal cream then vacuuming the coffee table."

I'm sitting right next to you ALL weekend long in Dayton. Rwwor.

--Wendi
(you was robbed)

Ann's Rants said...

I can believe you didn't win.

I CACKLED at min lederhosen and FLONDAY.

Brutalism said...

I LOVED Erma Bombeck. I remember reading "If life is a bowl of cherries...what am I doing in the pits?" and "I lost everything in the post-natal depression" over and over and over. (Except I called it "post NASAL and had no idea what it meant.)
When she was dying and said something about wishing she had used the good dishes more and lit her decorative candles instead of saving them (for what?)...that stuck with me.

Your entry was awesome. Definitely should not have been winning-adjacent. I'll check out the others now...

hokgardner said...

I'm unwillingly spontaneous. It's usually caused my rampant disorganization. I have to be spontaneous when I realize that my baby daughter has had a poonami that have covered her and me and I don't have any spare diapers or wipes or clothes. That was an interesting trip to Walmart.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Thanks for sharing the entry. Erma would be laughing :)

French Skinny said...

My 3 year old wants to know why I'm laughing at the computer and also "Can I have some food, Momma?"! Erma is smiling down at you and wants to know who picked those judges! Cause they are C-R-A-Z-Y! I have to go feed someone now.

Anna See said...

Erma fan here too! Loved your entry. I become a crazy beast right before parties, too.

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

Oh my brillinat, OCD soul sister, how I love thee. Had I the foresight to vacuum my coffee table, perhaps life would be just a little shinier right now.

Also - I got your three-bean-salad right here. Come on down.

Proud to be a Leftover!

Lisa said...

This was great! And I spent many hours hiding in the bathroom with my mom's Bombeck books in a failed effort to get out of helping with housework.

bernthis said...

ok, that first paragraph had me on the floor. I think this is one of my favorites. I SUCK at being a host. I can't wait till till they leave. As soon as they walk in the door, I'm sorry I invited them over in the first place

Shari said...

How could you not win? I smell a conspiracy.

Just want you to know that you've broken into my top-ten funny women list. And I know a LOT of funny women. Not to brag. Though I guess I am.

I know you don't know me from Adam, but I'm going to be at the BlogHer conference in August and I want to hear you speak and shake your manicured hand. Is that possible?

Shari said...

Me again. Thanks for the visit and the follow! You're awesome. Can't wait to see you in August. And of course, your hand will be manicured--I expect no less from a comedic genius who has to look down at her hands a hundred times a day while she blogs.

Suzy said...

Very funny Anna, and very Erma.

Sarah With Scissors said...

That's funny. Well written and I promise to call if I ever stop by.

:)

Angela said...

Loved Erma's columns and books...that was classic Erma style. thanks for the laugh!

The Retired One said...

Very funny!!!! I loved it!

The Bunny said...

For the record, I don't like martinis or three-bean salad.

And I'm SO glad other people need to vacuum the surface of their tables. Oh wait, you just said you did, not that you need to.

oops. Maybe I just need to tackle being prepared before I try to compare myself to an over-preparer.

Robin said...

Came over from Anns rants..I think this is great..I would have voted for ya too..!!..Have great Day..!

The Empress said...

Thank you for your visit and kind comments yesterday, they were so encouraging. Thank you!

I LOVED this one!!!

So glad to be joining the club, I HATE having people over. I start laying down with a cold rag on my head 3 days before the event.

I still love Erma Bombeck, I adore her classic description of a winner husband being a man "who is sober and employed."

Oh, she is timeless.

Loved your essay immensely!!

Clark Kent's Lunchbox said...

Funny, this is exactly how I pictured you, only in jams, not mom jeans. Sorry about the contest. Know how that goes--been shot down more times than a blind fighter pilot. This clearly was a superior chunk of writing.

BECKY said...

This was hilarious, and oh so like Erma! I find it strange that the University even had the guts to let others know about these "oh so close submissions"...as they were all better than the winners or HM's! I ranted about those winning entries on my blog, and then decided to "be nice" and I deleted it, plus all the totally-in-agreement comments! Who the heck is judging this competition now? I don't think they even know Erma!! Thanks for letting me rant, once again! Later this evening, I will write about your blog on mine, so others will find you, too! Keep writing...you are mahhhhvelous!

Fragrant Liar said...

Erma fan here! What a great job you did, Ms. Lefler. If you didn't win on that one, you ought to have been right up there at the top. Very funny and very Erma.

Robin said...

As a fellow leftover, prolly not so close to the top of the pile entry, I also think yours was better than the winners!

Greg Finley said...

I'm not grieving at you, I'm grieving with you. Great entry, which has made a great post. I did the same thing (posted my loser on my blog) but now that I've read your offering, I repent in dust and ashes for my inferior effort. Keep up the good work.

BECKY said...

Hi Anna! Just wanted to let you know that I did indeed mention your Erma Entry and your blog this evening when I posted on mine. Oh, I forgot to mention that unfortunately I won't be at the workshop next month. Maybe one of these days!!

When Pigs Fly said...

Great post as usual. So sorry you didn't win. And, very few of us can be budding Martha Stewarts. I think even if we can, I'm not so sure how healthy it is to aspire to such things. I liked the line about emerging from the womb with a perfect pitcher of martinis and three bean salad. I know those women and most of them are on their second divorces.

Janel said...

Spontaneity is overrated, in my opinion! I signed up to chaperon a field trip that is happening in 1 week and the teacher still hasn't done the lottery to decide which parents will be going. Ahhh, this is messing with my brain.

By the way, I just found you through a post that Becky P. did. Glad I stopped in :)

Gramma Ann said...

Becky send me over here, and as an Erma Bombeck fan, I really enjoyed your essay. It put a smile on my face, and a chuckle in my heart.

KLZ said...

As long as you provide booze, I'll be happy to polish your houseplants for you. With my snakebite kit.

I really need to get a bigger purse.

Tammy said...

I came over from Becky's, too. Good to know where the real Erma entries live! Very funny and very Erm-esque.

Anna said...

Hey!! Finally I can go in and read your brilliant writing again, yippie! For weeks on end, any time I clicked on the link my computer threw a warning message at me saying it wasn't safe to go here... ..and since two laptops have perished over the past two years due to viruses, I didn't dare defy its advice.. (OK, that's a lie - one was killed by a virus, the other one was killed by me drunkenly knocking a wine glass over and soaking it in Pinot Grigio).

Anyway! Brilliant post. Can't believe you didn't win. Who do I complain to?

Anna
x

Jack said...

I Prefer The Term "Winning-Adjacent"

Damn, just when I thought that I was the only one using the term.Now I have to come up with something new.

HermanTurnip said...

I've often wondered why the wide collars went out of style. Chic manifigue!

-terribleanalogies.com

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Kristin said...

Wow have I so been there. I will think I have effectively mastered a recipe only to have it kick me in the arse at the most inopportune times!

Joannafesto said...

This is so well-written. Who the hell won that contest?

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Loved it from title to polished house plants.

Swirl Girl said...

phew- now that I have finished reading your entry I can go back to milling my own wheat for the beef wellingtons I am making for our neighborhood progressive dinner...m'kay?

KiKi said...

Brilliant as always -- you always make me laugh jusssssssssst when I really need it!! xoxo

DiPaola Momma said...

Dahhlingg you will ALWAYS be a winner in my book (um is it wrong if I want to take your entry and sleep with it between my mattresses so that I can absorb some of your mojo whilst I slumber?)

5kidswdisabilities said...

LOVE your entries. I, for one, would give you the prize! (I love Erma Bombeck too and try to write in her style!)
Lindsey Petersen

tera said...

Nice. I like to think I'm prepared, but the reality is that I rarely am even close.
I do carry a lot of random stuff in my purse...but I don't know how much it would really help me in an emergency! :)

Love your article. I used to read Erma religiously.

La Belette Rouge said...

I remember seeing her on old shows: Johnny Carson; Dinah Shore; Merv Griffin; etc. Yikes, now I am feeling really old.

I think you was robbed!!! Soon and very soon the public library in Centerville will kick themselves for not choosing your entry. You can remind them, when you become a best-selling author, of their grave error.

K A B L O O E Y said...

Oh, I forgot to say how much I loved Erma Bombeck.

K A B L O O E Y said...

Haven't read the other winning adjacent entries yet, but yours was great. I hear you, except I just don't have people over. Unless forced by shame of never reciprocating. And then I stress. And wish I still smoked. Loved it all, except for one thing: can't imagine you in mom jeans. Mom jeans? Really?

Shari said...

Anna, you certainly don't need another award, but I done give ya one anyway.

http://dustyearthmother.blogspot.com/

Smooch.

Miss Welcome said...

This is so funny! You should have won the contest. :o)

Kim said...

That was a definite winner in my book! Blows my "leftover" out of the water. I love that you posted this. I just wrote my own post and referred back to your blog. I'd love to join you for an apple-boilermaker-tini if there are any left.

Keep writing. You are great!

Catherine said...

Erma would be proud. Nice work!

sherri said...

you are so right that Erma started it all. I rememeber reading "the grass is greener on the other side of the septic tank" and "if life is a bowl full of cherries, why am I in the pits" as a kid and not really getting a lot of it but loving it. Your entry was awesome and should have won! I would like to take a moment to high five you. I, too, am a shitty hostess on a variety of levels. Not cooking well is only surpassed by my socializing-induced panic attacks which aren't too suave. have a great weekend.

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

Fantastic!!! And hilarious, I love the left-over tour, I forget to post my essay, it's a must!

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

I lovelovelove Bombeck.

And you are just as funny. My purse is just like that, minus the hypothermic blankie.

What a great idea with these entries. Going to go read the others!!

MarryMead said...

Loved it and I don't love much, but my own stuff-jk!

Dawn said...

This is very funny. Erma started it all...

Dawn Murphy said...

Wow, very funny!

Jayne Martin said...

While poking around your place looking for something to eat, I happened to stumble across this total delight. I only have to wonder what the winning essay was like, because it's hard to imagine that it gets any better than this.

May I just say, you were screwed.

laura@imnotatrophywife.com said...

You were robbed! Found you on the blogher site. New follower.

Loved the dinner party prep. We love a party because it's the one time we actually vacume and dust the house! thanks for the smile.
laura