Thank you, Erma Bombeck
This piece was written to honor Erma Bombeck upon her death.
Here’s to the woman who, when others were burning their bras to make it in the workplace, went head to head with a patriarchal economy on her own terms,
and everybody won.
To a brilliant, funny lady, who spoke to the dust bunnies in all our hearts. To a woman of compassion and wit and laughter-
Thank you Erma Bombeck.
When the dog tracks mud on the just shined floor,
When the kids refuse to eat bologna any more,
When the grass is so high, it reaches your neck,
Ya need a good dose of Erma Bombeck.
And now for an appropriate tribute... A twenty-one flush salute? No, not good for the environment and besides, the handle’s still sticking... Replacing the toilet paper? Alas, the spindle’s full... Window cleaning contradicts my theological beliefs. (Ammonians 2: 0 “And then there wasn’t light...”) But what’s this? This solitary figure of domestic menace ensconced in the kitchen... The keeper of untold fiascos, bearer of the evidence of past mistakes, looming, nay, lording over all who approach it.
The oven. The turkey grease spattered, pizza cheese splattered, boiled-over cake battered, oven. The multi-talented oven, capable of turning microwave cooking pans into works of Dali, Italian bread into garlic briquettes, and last night’s delivery into pizza flambé (Here’s a handy tip: Always remove it from the box first...) It was there, as cocky and defiant as ever, laughing at the pathetic attempt to hide it with kitchen towels. (Perhaps if they didn’t declare “Master Cook”....) It didn’t care that we eat out more than in, that the microwave had won the Heating Olympics years ago, that Thanksgiving and the Superbowl only happened once a year. It knew. It knew that if it waited long enough, we would have to move away from it or clean it.
Moving is out of the question until we can find the cordless to call a real estate agent.
Cleaning it would be one small step for an appliance, one giant leap for all kitchenkind. With the steady hand of a neural surgeon, I snapped on two gloves. Before me was propped a life sized image of Heloise for inspiration. Beside me were spread the tools of the trade:
Sponge- (A hefty loofah...)
Gas Mask and Stun Gun. (You NEVER know what you’re going to find in one of these things...)
Spray Cleaner- Which, from the looks of its warnings, is a cross between Redemption and Agent Orange. (It Cleans! It Renews! Don’t breathe it! Don’t touch it! Don’t spray It! Just--- Lady, just give me the can, nice and slow, and nobody gets hurt....)
With a drama befitting the moment when a doctor on (insert medical show here- “M*A*S*H*”, “Chicago Hope”, “Dr. Ruth”) risks career and social life by going against Hospital Policy and trying a New, Experimental, Radical treatment that Saves the Patient’s Life, (He sutures! He scores!), I opened the oven door.
“Jack hammer!”, I cried, ignoring all risks and assuming a position somewhat akin to the one taken by a person on the wrong end of a proctoscopic exam. I had just begun the initial inspection when I was shocked into exiting once again.
“Cut it out!”, I yelled at our replacement dog, Ryker, who had taken the posture of my posterior at his nose height as a social invitation. My words, as always, instilled in him a deep repentance which he demonstrated by panting Pupperoni (tm) breath and wagging his tail. I returned to the task at hand.
“This is bad, very bad. I don’t know if we can save it. The preliminary scan reveals a severe rupture in the distal cranial peritonitis... Can you see how the hole lets light shine in? Nevermind, that IS a light. O.K., I’m going in. Shovel!”
Removing an asbestos like covering from the walls, I closed the door, slammed its lock in place, set the timer, and without looking back, turned the knob to Self-Clean. I let the monster cremate from Dirt on dirt to Ashes on Ashes.
I think Erma might have been proud.
Rest in peace.
Despite her death, Erma Bombeck continues to publish. Check out her latest, as well as old favorites at Amazon's Erma Bombeck page.
The University of Dayton maintains an on-line Erma Bombeck museum with original columns and information on her life.