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The Call – But Most of All, I remember Portnoy
I got the call to writing when I was in elementary school, but it really hit home when my children were young. Erma Bombeck was still appearing on television then, and “Aunt Erma’s Cope Book” was more valuable to me than Doctor Spock.
I read “If life is a Bowl of Cherries What am I Doing in the Pits?” at least 6 times. My kids were driving me nuts and it suited my predicament, even though I knew by that time, Erma Bombeck was about $31 million richer and having lunch regularly with Joe Dionne, McGraw-Hill’s Chairman. She was being driven all over BYC in a limo, while I was sneak writing humor pieces with a flashlight in the back seat of my old Chevrolet Biscayne, away from the prying eyes of my mother-in-Law, Surly Kate, who had the sense of humor of a wasp.
“I grew up during the depression,” she said. “No one had the time to write, we all had to get real jobs.”
I have to do this book soon, or my children will grow up and I will run out of great humor material, I thought.
I went out and got a real job.
The urge to write never subsided and I still wrote humor pieces in the bathroom like Portnoy, mostly to my friends.
E-mail came along and I had a field day entertaining my co-workers.
“You should write a book” they all said.
I just married off my last daughter and ran out of material, I thought.
Surly Kate and a few years passed, grandchildren came along, and I was again energized.
My grandson came home from school with an “F” one day, then got into the Doritos and spilled them all over the floor, tipped over his soda, yelled “Avast!” and kicked the dog.
My daughter said “You know, Mom, I have never forgiven you for not allowing me to take oboe lessons when I was 12. What were you thinking with the trumpet lessons?”
“What does that have to do with little Johnny’s behavior?” I asked.
“It’s all your fault,” she said. “You wanted Harry James, and I could really give a rat’s ass about any flight of the bumble bee.”
“Okay, so you want oboe lessons, or the real book on Pirate Parenting?” I asked. I was becoming my mother-in-law.
“It’s too late, I’m 30 years old.”
Then it occurred to me, kids are like squirrels. The whole time you are raising them, they gather evidence against you like nuts, so they can pelt you with them after they grow up and fail “Parenting Skills 101.”
Yes, Sitting on Cold Porcelain is finally that book.
Rose A. Valenta
About the Author
Rose A. Valenta is a nationally syndicated humor columnist. Her irreverent columns have been published in Senior Wire, Associated Content, Courier Post Online, NPR, Newsday, USA TODAY, the WSJ Online, and many other local news and radio websites.
She is the author of Rosie’s Renegade Humor Blog. This is the blog for people who would be knowledgeable about current events and politics if only politicians and news anchors didn’t stretch the truth. “What else is there to do, but share an honest laugh?” Rose said.
Rose regularly attends the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton, is a member of the Robert Benchley Society and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC).
Rose lived in Philadelphia for over 40 years, where she honed her humor writing skills by being married to a Philadelphia Policeman and giving birth to three children. “Times have changed. Now that we have 10 grandchildren, I’m not sure how I feel about children being exposed to the evening news. Humorous things happen, like the time my grandson asked us to come outside to see his version of ‘Frosty the Inappropriate Snowman’ right after Snowmageddon.”
Rose worked for a subsidiary of McGraw-Hill, Datapro Information Services, for 12 years as a technical staff writer, and also wrote freelance articles for other computer industry publications.
She claims that her Italian heritage stunted her growth. She is English on her Father’s side and believes that in a past life, during medieval times, she was probably a trusted member of the Counsel of the Jesters.
Her latest book is Sitting on Cold Porcelain which you can find out more about at her website at www.rosevalenta.com.