Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Erma Bombeck Contest Entry

Perception Is Reality-ish

I don’t remember the minister inserting air quotes into our wedding vows. Then again, my vision at the time was clouded by multiple layers of tulle and mascara—not to mention a professionally tightened chignon that stretched my eyes so far sideways I was starting to resemble a Gila monster.

I believe, however, that a review of our wedding video would reveal the moment when the reverend rolled his eyes heavenward, waggled his fingers at the dearly beloveds in attendance, and applied a pair of floating punctuation marks to a key word of our blessed troth: in “sickness” and in health.

Everyone is prepared to stand by their spouse if, God forbid, they are faced with a serious illness. That’s a sacred part of the deal, after all.

No, it’s not the sickness that wears on the marriage—it’s the “sickness.” It’s the aches and twinges that must be discussed and assuaged to the point that you would welcome a bullet in the thigh if it meant never having to hear another word about his sensitive toe. Or his acid tummy. Or his pre-sore throat.

“I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” he said, peering up at me through rheumy eyes as I perched bedside.

“I think you’ll pull through,” I said.

“I want you to know that, when the time comes, I trust you to make the decision about...life support.”

“You realize that cord you’re holding leads to a lamp, not a respirator?”

“Look at you, putting on a brave face.” He patted my hand.

“Listen, when they invent a durable power of attorney for the sniffles I’ll prop you up so you can sign it. In the meantime, your office called—it’s your turn to take doughnuts for the staff meeting.”

“I’ll never make it.” He rolled over with a moan.

These were the times I wanted to use bad words. Words like episiotomy. And perimenopause. Words I once thought of as afflictions but now categorized as “lifestyles,” in the same way I had come to think of my reading glasses as “streetwear.”

But, wait—this could be the answer. I couldn’t change the behavior, but I could change the label, like the time I blacked out from the flu while selling Girl Scout cookies in the Jiffy Mart parking lot then told the other moms I had been “multi-tasking.”

It was matrimony meets Madison Avenue and it just might work. I congratulated myself on my new, strategic mindset.

No, my husband wasn’t bedridden from a runny nose.

He was on a “spiritual mini-retreat.”

Yeah...he’s Zen like that.

Erma Rules

You can find out more about the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition here.

And I hope to see all of you who are Erma enthusiasts at the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop in Dayton April 19-21.

I'm on the faculty for the 2012 conference (ahem, pardon me while I adjust my cravat) and I'll be running a workshop titled "Brand to Book - Creating an Online Voice that Opens Doors" as well as leading sunrise calisthenics on the lawn of the Dayton Marriott.

And Speaking of Conferences...

Blissdom '12 is this weekend in Nashville and it promises to be epic in its, well...epicness.

I'm stoked to be attending for the first time, and my enthusiasm has not been dampened in the least by the fact that my movement to call the conference "BlissDOME" has failed to gain real momentum. (The hotel where it's being held is a dome...get it? Blissdom + dome = Blissdome? Okay, whatever!)

Anyway, I hope to see many of you there this weekend. Here's where you can find me when I'm not practicing my line-dancing in the Grand Ol' Opry parking lot:

Friday, Feb. 24 at 4:00 pm - CHICKtionary Book Signing at the Barnes & Noble booth in the Expo

Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2:30 - I'll be running a hands-on editing workshop called "More Method to Your Madness"

Side note: I might also be wearing one of those hats that holds a beverage on top and has straws running down the sides. It depends on whether I can find one that goes with my sheepskin peasant skirt.

In any case, I look forward to seeing you there!


Ann Imig said...

Awesome essay Anna!

Congrats on the speaking gigs--those attendees are going to get way more than just the smooth heels they expect from you.

See you in Dayton!


Lee said...

Okay. I need to read you more. And with that statement, I'm admitting that I don't read you often. Was it obvious? Or did I just give myself away? In any case, I did indeed LOL while reading this and that never happens because not too many people are funny. But you are. I want to go to Blissdome now that I know you are going. :-)
And this sickness thing with dudes is so damn true I can't even stand it.
Miss you. Let's lunch when you're back from the dome because I'm unemployed now. :-)

Pearl said...

Love this, Anna.


Venom said...

"...not a respirator"

So TRUE!! hahah Guys are such babies over the least little thing, and they actually believe we think they are being stoic. Delusional.

Erma B. was my favourite part of the newspaper back in the day. Go Anna!

KiKi said...

So...I have an essay on my computer that is about 80 words away from being completed. It was for the Erma contest. I've waited over a year for this contest to roll back around. I was mighty surprised to realize that the deadline was at like 3 or 4 in the MORNING Best Coast time rather than at midnight like one would assume. So, another year passed by -- and another unfinished essay lurks.


Dude. Anna. This was one of the most awesome things I've read in a while. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! And oh so very true.

Miss you, girl!
xo - Ki

Heidi said...

I loved this. Like really loved it. Brilliant and funny.

Nancy Davis Kho said...

well I just took my contest entry and used it to line the bird cage. May as well do someone some good. This is hilarious. As is the outfit I'm bringing to wear to the Sunrise Calisthenics class. Now you've said it, you'll be held to it...

Julie said...

Note to self:

For the next wedding, wear more tulle and mascara.

(Because I totally saw the air quotes. DANG it.)

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

Ahhh, this is great! I completely relate, since I live with a man whose pre-flu shivers look like he's been adrift on an ice floe for two weeks. The last time the big baby took ill, I had no sympathy because my mother complained less after her double mastectomy. Sad but true. I hope you win, but regardless, you did Mrs. Bombeck proud.

Unknown said...

Ah, the detailing of ailments! Favorite topic in our house.

HermanTurnip said...

Hey, isn't a perk of marriage being able to complain to your spouse that the world is ending, that the pain is too much to bare, that you simply can not go on, when in fact all you have a scratchy throat brought on by yelling at the basketball team on the television?

If not, then somebody lied to me.

Cheryl said...

Love this essay all to pieces. Can't relate but I love it all the same.

Both my husband and I just want to be left the hell alone when we're feeling poorly. Even in sickness we don't follow pop cultural trends.


Liz @ ewmcguire said...

Cannot WAIT to do jumping jacks with you in Dayton. I love me some early-bird friends!

HumorSmith said...

Well played Anna! Flippin' hilarious and it would do Erma proud.

TheGirlfriendMom said...

Love the post, but I especially like the shag carpet on your website. I think we're kindred spirits. Check it out, yo. www.thegirlfriendmom.blogspot.com

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

More of the brillliance! I love it.

Enjoy the Thunderdome!

Nora Blithe said...

Are we married to the same guy? Cause I swear we've had the exact same conversation in my house. He was louder than a cow in labor when he bruised his knee.

Also, are you serious about the early AM exercises at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop or is that a joke. Cause I might come. I also might sleep in. It's hard to say with me.

meleah rebeccah said...

This is awesome. And so true.

Men always act like it's the end of the world when they get a cold.

janerowena said...

On Monday my husband was rushed off to hospital from work with a suspected heart attack. I had to collect him a few hours later, looking very embarrassed - he had pulled a muscle under his arm. I could have killed him quite happily at the time.

Ashley Chappell said...

I loved this essay! Erma has been a favorite read of mine since I was about 12 years old - too young and inexperienced to fully appreciate her tales and life lessons.

You just renewed my appreciation for her yet again. I can't wait to read more of your work! Count me in as a new follower :-)

When Pigs Fly said...

I'm so excited that I will finally be able to meet you in person when I'm at the Erma workshop. Loved your entry for the contest. I'm thinking now I haven't got a chance.

MommyTime said...

This is great. I SOOO wish I could come to Dayton, but of course that is my last week of classes, so I can't really ditch my students during exam week. Is there any chance that you and Ann Imig will be heading up to Michigan from Dayton? That would be more than fantastic! ;)

Victoria L. Thurman said...

To my new BFF, I LOVED LOVED LOVED this blog/contest entry. I didn't know there was an Erma contest (or even a conference), but I know if I had tried to enter I wouldn't have stood a chance. For one I am not married, two, never had children and can only relate to the wallflowers at a junior high dance. Thanks for the laugh!

Jeanne Estridge said...

This is great, Anna--reads like a winner to me!

I'm signed up for the workshop, so I hope to see you there!

Anonymous said...

Funny essay!

Looking forward to meeting you in Ohio at the conference! I'm not a new writer, but new-ish blogger, so I'm going to check out your old stuff!

Amanda Hill