|
|
|
McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Suzette Martinez Standring: Wannabe Erma Bombeck

    • email print
  • Wannabe you. Do you ever wish you were somebody else? Maybe it’s not a bad thing.
    Recently, close to 400 people felt that way about the late Erma Bombeck, whose wit was forged on the hot anvil of motherhood, a state known for its sweat and tedium Erma knew you could either break out laughing or crack up in other ways. The widely syndicated humor columnist and author died on April 22, 1996, yet she remains a standard bearer for light and laughter. Erma “wannabes” are legion.
    Recently I went to the biennial Erma Bombeck Writers Conference at the University of Dayton, Erma’s alma mater. A ballroom full of humor writers has strong therapeutic value. Aside from the thrill of big-name speakers and programs, the energy carried something uniquely “Bombeckian,” a rare camaraderie among strangers to befriend, connect and help each other. Being a veteran of many conferences, it’s my observation one is lucky to pal around with one or two new people. The Erma lovefest set me to musing.
    Was it because Erma’s adult children, Matt, Betsy, Andy, and other family members always attend? Phil Donahue of talk show fame shared memories of Erma as his friend and neighbor all those years ago. Erma came alive on his TV clips with insights timeless, classic and hilarious. Was it a mass hypnosis of warm and fuzzy?
    I think I have it. “Bombeckian” energy plugs into permission to be real. That started with Erma, and I would sum up her legacy as show up with your hair down and heart open. Conference banners read, “You can write.” It’s the famous affirmation from University of Dayton professor Brother Tom Price to a then young and insecure Erma Bombeck. One sentence changed her life.
    No matter what we do, it’s common to feel unworthy. How many times have I heard, “Who am I to [fill in the blank]? Or “I’m nobody special.” Dreams ooze into nothingness because of a perceived lack of experience or credentials, or gee, all the interesting stuff happens to other people. This is where Erma reveled in beige. She once wrote, “I wondered what I had that was unique and ironically enough, I discovered something. I was ordinary, painfully middle of the road, bare boned Ohio Midwest beige, Our Town ordinary … Ordinary. That was to be my turf.”
    When I think of the subject of motherhood, what can be said that hasn’t already been said? Yet family life is ever fresh through the generations. Erma Bombeck is a woman who spun gold from life’s everyday filaments, and thousands still follow her light. That weekend I understood it’s not just about being funny. It’s about memorable connection. It’s that no one should feel alone, and laughter is the warm wrap offered in the cold. Erma mastered “this is me” and her message still gives that permission to others. This week will mark eighteen years since she passed. Wanting to be like Erma Bombeck - in ways beyond writing - is a very, very good thing.
    Page 2 of 2 - Email Suzette Standring suzmar@comcast.net. Visit www.readsuzette.com She is the author of The Art of Opinion Writing and the award winning The Art of Column Writing, both available on Amazon.com.
      • calendar