During my childhood my mother wielded an iron hand when it
came to watching television. Weeks would go by without it ever being turned on
a big contrast to my aunt's household where television played a large role in my
cousins' lives. When one of my cousins came to visit me for a week, she headed
straight for the television set. "Oh, no you don't," said my mother.
"We don't watch television here." Bewilderment showed on my
cousin's face as she asked, "Where do you watch it then?"
Maw was outside the house
hanging up the laundry, when she hears Jethro in the kitchen. Maw walks in and says,
"Jethro, get out there and fix that there outhouse." He says, "All
right, Maw." He walks out to the outhouse, looks at it, and says, "Ma,
there ain't nothin' wrong with this here outhouse!" Ma says, "Yes there is
son. Put your head down in the hole." He puts his head down in the hole and he
says, "Ma, there ain't nothin' wrong with this here outhouse!" He goes to
lift up his head and he says, "Oww! OWW! Ma! MA, my beard's stuck!" She
says, "Aggravatin', ain't it?"
After hearing me talk about my job, my young son looked forward to spending the day
with me at the office. Although usually shy, he seemed eager to meet each co-worker I
introduced. On the way home, however, he appeared sullen. I couldn't see the reason for
his disappointment until he complained, "I never got to see the clowns you said you
A nouveau-riche manufacturer and his wife were having
difficulty adjusting to a life of elegance. After the first dinner in their new
125-room mansion, the husband turned to his spouse and asked, "Do you want to have an
after-dinner drink in the library?" "It's too late, dear," she
replied. "It closes at six."
My brother-in-law saw my sister and me struggling with a
heavy cupboard on the stairs. "Here," he said rushing over, "let me
help," and he grabbed a corner. Minutes later, after failing to move it, we
took a rest. "Phew!" he exclaimed, "it's a tough job trying to carry
this cupboard upstairs." My sister and I burst out laughing: We had been trying
to carry it downstairs!
His beloved old white convertible was in deplorable shape,
but my stepfather refused to get rid of it. When the junker was stolen from his office
parking lot, the family was delighted. Nonetheless, we called the police. Our relief
was short-lived. Within an hour an officer was back on the phone. "We found the car
less than a mile away," he said, trying to restrain his mirth. "It had a note on
it: 'Thanks anyway, we'd rather walk."
When my friend Albert got his first microwave oven, he
zealously heated up everything imaginable. One evening his father dropped in and was just
returning to the living room from the kitchen with a coffee mug in his hand when Albert
jumped up and grabbed the cup. "My coffee maker doesn't keep coffee very hot,"
Albert said. "But my microwave will have your coffee steaming in seconds," he
added as he popped the mug into the new oven. His father, speechless till now,
exclaimed, "But that was Coke!"
An easy going, half-educated businessman married a school
teacher who was over educated and inflexible. After a year or two, their
incompatibility was evident to all. One day a friend said to the husband,
"You're too easily over-come by your wife's powers of diction." "Oh,
no," countered the unhappy man, "it's not her powers of diction. It's her
power of contradiction."
I collapsed into my easy chair after a busy day at work and
sighed, "I'm so tired I wish someone would put me to bed." As if on cue,
my teen-age son and his two strapping friends picked me up by the shoulders and feet.
I'm no lightweight, and there was considerable grunting and groaning while they
maneuvered their sagging load into the bedroom. They turned to leave, and I
overheard one exhausted boy mutter, "Whew! We should have made two trips!"
After being injured in a car accident, my father, known for
his malapropisms, was out in our yard, in his various slings, bandages and braces,
watching me mow the lawn. A neighbour, on seeing Dad, came across and asked what had
happened. Dad nonchalantly replied, "It's nothing, just a minor traffic
Arriving home from work at my usual hour of 5 p.m., I
discovered that it had not been one of my wife's better days. Nothing I said or did seemed
to be right. By 7 p.m. things had not changed, so I suggested I go outside, pretend I had
just got home, and start all over again. My wife agreed. I went outside, came back
in and, with a big smile, announced, "Honey, I'm home!" "And just
where have you been?" she replied sharply "It's seven o clock!"
A few years ago a neighbor's son returned from a stint of
teaching English in Japan, bringing with him a charming young wife. The groom was a
neighborhood favorite, so all of us on our cul-de-sac organized a block party to welcome
the bride. At the party, my husband asked her how she liked her new life. "I
like it very much," she replied, "especially living in a cuddle-sack. It
is so friendly." That has been our favorite term for our dead-end street ever
Our bedroom closet is stuffed with clothing that my husband,
Tom who hates to throw anything away hasn't worn for years. One day when he
wasn't at home, I went through his side of the closet and ferreted out the oldest of his
things and took them immediately to a local charity. Tom didn't notice their
absence. About six months later, Tom bought a bag of rags from the same charity for
his business. I was in the office when I heard him roar with outrage. Peeking
into the shop, I saw him with a familiar old shirt. Not only had I given away his
beloved old shirt but he had to endure the indignity of buying it back as a rag!
Wearing a feathered hat and carrying a shiny handbag, my
friend was ready to leave for a wedding when she had to change her baby's diaper. To
her surprise, this was accomplished without the usual wriggling and crying. The
child seemed hypnotized by her new hat and bag. One night the baby became restless
because his diaper needed changing. Anxious not to wake her husband, she remembered
the effect of the new hat and bag. She donned the hat and put the bag on her arm but
to no avail. The baby continued to yell in his usual hearty fashion. Her
husband sat up in bed, saw her dressed in shortie pajamas, hat and bag and said,
"Good grief, woman, no wonder the child is screaming."
After I retired from my people-oriented job, I soon realized
that more than the usual adjustments to life at home had to be made. One day an
appliance serviceman came. As the two of us carried on a lively political discussion
my wife appeared around the corner, discreetly out of his sight. She was holding up
a large, hand-scribbled sign that read: "Don't Talk! $$$$$$$$$$$!"
FOR years my husband and I had dreamed of owning a motor home
and touring the country. Finally, I found a used model and persuaded my husband to
take out a loan and buy it. I didn't realize just how apprehensive he felt about
going into debt until I came home one day and glanced at our newly acquired house on
wheels. Using fluorescent tape, he had spelled out across the back: "Inn Over
I awoke one morning to discover that the power had gone out
for several hours during the night. As I was resetting my alarm clock, a
whose house bulged with the latest digital appliances, phoned. "Were we without
electricity?" she asked. "Yes. For about three hours." "I
had so many things planned for today," she moaned. "Now I'll have to spend
the whole morning reprogramming my kitchen!"
My husband and I had worked hard on our entry for a local
store's promotion contest. To our elation, we won second prize a trip to Nashville.
The only problem was getting someone to stay with our seven lively children while
we were away. I called my mother to feel her out. "Guess what, Mom!"
I began. "We won a five day trip to Nashville!" A long pause.
Then Mother said, "Good. I hope you've already taken it!"
When my daughter and I left in the car on a shopping trip, my
husband stood on the driveway waving us off. Then he eyed the dandelions on the
lawn, checking for signs that the weed killer was working. A friendly
seeing us drive off and my husband's woebegone face, called over to him, "Don't
worry. They'll be back." "I hope not," said my husband, still
frowning at the dandelions. "I've been trying to poison them for weeks!"
We were discussing what profession our son should pursue
after finishing high school. When dentistry was suggested, he said, "I wouldn't
want to stick my fingers in other people's mouths." Said our daughter, who was
about 12 at the time: "Why not, you don't mind sticking your nose into other people's
I was watching television one night while my father was going
over some of his bills. Becoming frustrated, he spread out his arms to the house and
its contents and said, "Someday it will all be Mine."
Refusing to believe that we were only social bridge players,
a caller pressured my wife into accepting an invitation to enter a tournament.
Completely out classed, we spent a miserable evening being harangued by experts about our
many misplays and sloppy bidding. My wife was ready for the next such
invitation. "Let me be frank," she said to the caller. "My
husband and I think bridge is just something to keep our hands busy while we're
Sometimes there are just the two of us for a meal and my
husband and I usually wash dishes by hand rather than use the dishwasher. One
evening after supper, I became interested in a TV program and heard him at the sink.
I called out that I would do the dishes later. He continued to work until the
TV commercial started. Then he came in, sat down and gave me a passionate kiss.
"What's going on?" I asked. "Just trying to turn on the dish
washer," he replied.
One Saturday my wife came back from yet another garage sale
with an armful of packages and a big smile, and began explaining each bargain to me.
Finally she held up a pair of olive-drab slacks, declaring proudly, "I paid
only fifty cents for these." I did a double take. "But aren't those
the same pants you sold for one dollar at our garage sale last year?"
"Yes," she admitted with a giggle. "But this year they fit me.
And I'm fifty cents ahead!"
Neighbours asked my husband to pick up their mail and
newspapers while they were on vacation, and to leave them in their house. Early
Sunday morning, my husband, clad in bathrobe and slippers, dashed across the street,
snatched up the paper, and went in the kitchen door. He was exiting just as the
newspaper boy rode by again on his bicycle. "Good morning, Mr. Gibbs," he
called out loudly. "I see you got up on the wrong side of the road this
After three months of retirement, I told my wife I thought I
was beginning to adjust happily to my freedom from the daily work I had known for more
than 40 years. To my surprise, she was reluctant to agree that she was enjoying our
escape from the old routines. "Why ever not?" I asked. "What I
miss," she confessed, "is looking forward to you coming home from the
It was my parents' first vacation without us, and my brother
and I, both teenagers, looked forward eagerly to a few days on our own. After the
usual lecture about responsibility, our parents departed. Next evening we were
enjoying some rock records with friends when Western Union called with a telegram from
Dad. "For heaven's sake," the message ran, "turn that stereo
My wife and I each made a list of the things about ourselves
that we could change to improve our marriage. One of the items on my wife's list
stated her intent to "stop being so nit-picky." Later, as she was fussing
over the table settings, I teased her: "Remember, you were going to stop being so
picky." It was out of her mouth before she could stop herself:
"Nit-picky," she corrected.
While our children were growing up, my career was being a
homemaker. After they were grown and out of the house, a wonderful job opportunity
came my way, and for the first time in 20 years I went out to work. My husband and
family were proud and supportive. The change in me, however, was greater than I had
realized. After I had been working a year, I heard my husband comment to a neighbor,
"Marge is the only person I've ever heard of who found liberation in a forty-hour
During a visit to my parents' home, my fiancée and I enjoyed
looking over photographs and other memorabilia of years gone by. One item that gave
us a chuckle was a note written by Mom to remind Dad to put out the trash cans before he
left for work. The note read: "Mike Garbage." On the bottom
he had added: "You're not so great yourself!"
When my husband was transferred, I found myself 600
kilometers from familiar turf. His cousin, who lived in the area, tried to get me
used to my new surroundings, but with little success. A last-ditch effort was made
one spring morning. A delivery boy showed up with a potted tree, a gift from the
cousin. This note was enclosed: "Once you plant this, you'll have roots
A widower who was about to be remarried was busy cleaning up
his kitchen when one of his friends dropped in. "Boy, you're working
hard," remarked his friend. "What gives?" "Well,"
replied the soon-to-be married fellow, "this kitchen is going under new management on
Monday and I want to have it in good order." A week after the wedding, his
friend arrived for dinner and inquired about the new "manager." "Was
your wife impressed with your efforts?" he asked. "She sure was,"
replied the newlywed. "She's hired the old staff to carry on as usual."
We had spent eight years converting an old barn into an
impressive home. Pleased with the results, we celebrated with a
"house-blessing" party. One guest was the old-timer who had helped build
the original barn. Proudly I showed him the stalls, now a spacious bedroom.
Then the hayloft with its guest room, bath, master bedroom and thanks to the
addition of 28 windows spectacular view. "Well, what do you think of the
old place now?" I asked. "Pretty nice," came his measured response.
"But you sure ruined a good mule barn!"
Shortly after we moved into our new home, I looked out an
upstairs window and saw the two attractive bikini-clad teenage sisters who lived next door
sun tanning on the flat roof of their home. I called my husband to join me, saying,
"Dear, I think you're really going to enjoy living in this house. Look at the
spectacular view." Following my gaze through the window, he caught his breath.
"They're lying on a tar-and-gravel roof!" he exclaimed. "They
shouldn't be doing that; they'll ruin the roof!"
It had been an unusually hectic weekend and I decided to put
off the house-work. As I was curling up with a book, old friends phoned. They
were in town and wanted to stop by. I tore around the house, dusting and vacuuming.
Time was running out when I reached the kitchen, so I grabbed piles of dirty dishes
and put them in the oven. The doorbell rang. There stood my friends - with a
Our two sons, who are single, planned to visit a friend whose
wife is a flight attendant. Their friend called and said, "Three stewardesses
dropped by, and we want to go to a party. Find another fellow." Frantic
discussions arose over who to get as the third escort. Finally their amused father
interrupted. "How about me? I could take the one with jet lag, " he
With 12 children at home and only one bathroom, my father had
a very strict rule - any ablutions that could be accomplished at the kitchen sink would be
done there. During rush hours, early mornings and evenings before bed, one of us
would frequently forget to bring a razor or a hair dryer or a toothbrush from the bathroom
to the kitchen. Naturally, the victim would bear the brunt of considerable ribbing
while waiting for an opportunity to re-enter the bathroom to retrieve the necessary
article. My father led the jeers, until one morning when he stepped out of the
bathroom and, halfway to the kitchen sink, executed a quick reverse. Unfortunately,
the next tenant had already taken occupancy, leaving him no choice but to wait.
Noting the toothbrush in his hand, someone asked, "What's the matter, Dad? Did
you forget the toothpaste?" To which he snapped, "No damn it! My
When friends of ours moved to Florida last year, they were
immediately besieged by a stream of visitors from up north. In between all the
entertaining, they were trying to get settled in their new home and had ordered some
furnishings for their den. My friend was on the patio when her husband called to
her, "Maggie, the ottomans are here." "And who are the
Ottomans?" she wailed.
My parents, busy professional people, have trouble finding
time for chores and home maintenance. On weekends they each make a list of things to
be done. Father's list is never completely crossed off, but Mother's always is.
Puzzled, I asked her how she managed that. "Simple," she answered
with a satisfied smile. "I do the chore first, and then I put it on the list
and cross it off!"
Mother had decided to trim her household budget wherever
possible, so instead of having a dress dry-cleaned she washed it by hand. Proud of
her savings, she boasted to my father, "Just think, Fred, we are five dollars richer
because I washed this dress by hand." "Good," my dad quickly replied.
"Wash it again!"
One day while washing the dishes, I looked out the window and
saw two of the neighborhood youngsters filling their water pistols from our goldfish pond.
I walked out to the boys and explained that their actions were scaring the fish.
They seemed genuinely sorry, apologized, and left the yard without further
incident. I then bragged to my wife that I knew the proper way to handle children.
The next morning, however, as I looked out the window, I saw the same two boys
dangling fishing lines into the pond.
Unapologetic about her dislike of electronic gadgets, my wife
was unable to avoid using the automatic garage-door opener I had installed in our newly
built home. The first time she tried opening the door with the remote control, it
wouldn't budge. After several times of furiously pressing all the buttons, however,
she noticed the garage door of the adjacent house going up and down. That's when she
realized she was parked in our neighbour's driveway.
A university student who cleaned part time was doing an
excellent job on my kitchen cupboards. When I realized she should be getting on her
way so as not to miss her bus, I suggested she leave, the lower cupboard and I could do
it. Looking straight at me, she asked, "But will you?"