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Erma Bombeck

  • Any mother with half a skull knows that when Daddy's little boy becomes Mommy's little boy, the kid is so wet he's treading water.

  • I don't think women outlive men, Doctor. It only seems longer.

  • Adults are always telling young people, 'These are the best years of your life.' Are they? I don't know. Sometimes when adults say this to children I look into their faces. They look like someone on the top seat of the Ferris wheel who has had too much cotton candy and barbecue. They'd like to get off and be sick but everyone keeps telling them what a good time they're having.

  • ... I come from a home where gravy is a beverage.

  • ... not all bears have their own television series. Some of them are unemployed wild animals.

  • After age twelve, birthdays should be as private as hernia surgery.

  • My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk until I faint.

  • A small waist makes you tire easily.

  • My idea of 'roughing it' is when you have to have an extension for your electric blanket.

  • People are always asking couples whose marriage has endured at least a quarter of a century for their secret of success. Actually, it is no secret at all. I am a forgiving woman. Long ago, I forgave my husband for not being Paul Newman.

  • I have always felt cookbooks were fiction and the most beautiful words in the English language were 'room service.'

  • Time. It hangs heavy for the bored, eludes the busy, flies by the for young, and runs out for the aged.

  • I lost everything in the post-natal depression.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • book title ()
  • There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child. ... Time, self-pity, apathy, bitterness, and exhaustion can take the Christmas out of the child, but you cannot take the child out of Christmas.

  • Men who have a thirty-six-televised-football-games-a-week habit should be declared legally dead and their estates probated.

  • I am always behind the shopper at the grocery store who has stitched her coupons in the lining of her coat and wants to talk about a 'strong' chicken she bought two weeks ago. The register tape also runs out just before her sub-total. In the public restroom, I always stand behind the teen-ager who is changing into her band uniform for a parade and doesn't emerge until she has combed the tassels on her boots, shaved her legs, and recovered her contact lens from the commode.

  • For some unexplained reason, it's always the other end of the table that's wild and raucous, with screaming laughter and a fella who plays 'Holiday for Strings' on water glasses.

  • If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • book title ()
  • I had no intention of giving her my vital statistics. 'Let me put it this way,' I said. 'According to my girth, I should be a ninety-foot redwood.'

  • I firmly believe kids don't want your understanding. They want your trust, your compassion, your blinding love and your car keys, but you try to understand them and you're in big trouble.

  • There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.

  • It seemed rather incongruous that in a society of supersophisticated communication, we often suffer from a shortage of listeners.

  • The bad times I can handle. It's the good times that drive me crazy. When is the other shoe going going to drop?

  • A child develops individuality long before he develops taste. I have seen my kid straggle into the kitchen in the morning with outfits that need only one accessory: an empty gin bottle.

  • To my way of thinking, the American family started to decline when parents began to communicate with their children. When we began to 'rap,' 'feed into one another,' 'let things hang out' that mother didn't know about and would rather not.

  • I will never understand children. I never pretended to. I meet mothers all the time who make resolutions to themselves. 'I'm going to ... go out of my way to show them I am interested in them and what they do. I am going to understand my children.' These women end up making rag rugs, using blunt scissors.

  • It is difficult to single out one sport over another, but if I have to name one in my separation suit, it will undoubtedly be football.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in Erma Bombeck and Bil Keane, Just Wait Til You Have Children of Your Own ()
  • There was a time when the respect and trust my children had for me would have made you sick to your stomach. They believed I could blow on a red traffic light and turn it green.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in Erma Bombeck and Bil Keane, Just Wait Til You Have Children of Your Own ()
  • Our teen-agers withdrew to their bedrooms on their thirteenth birthday and didn't show themselves to us again until it was time to get married.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in Erma Bombeck and Bil Keane, Just Wait Til You Have Children of Your Own ()
  • For years, my husband and I have advocated separate vacations. But the kids keep finding us.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in Erma Bombeck and Bil Keane, Just Wait Til You Have Children of Your Own ()
  • Let me lay it on you, Cleavie, the high spot in my day is taking knots out of shoestrings — with my teeth — that a kid has wet on all day long.

  • I'm so bored. I went to the food locker yesterday to visit my meat.

  • Some say the antique syndrome surfaced to offset the newness of the land, the homes, and the settlers. Some say the interest was initiated by a desire to return to the roots of yesterday. I contend the entire movement to acquire antiques was born out of sheer respect of things that lasted longer than fifteen minutes.

  • Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in P. Dickson, The Official Rules ()
  • I became hysterical and frightened and begged for sedation. And that was just the first prenatal visit.

  • The fact was I didn't want to look my age, but I didn't want to act the age I wanted to look either. I also wanted to grow old enough to understand that sentence.

  • I hated skiing or any other sport where there was an ambulance waiting at the bottom of the hill.

  • I didn't fear old age. I was just becoming increasingly aware of the fact that the only people who said old age was beautiful were usually twenty-three years old.

  • Early in my life I had made a pact with myself. I would never eat anything that moved when I cooked it, excited the dog, or inflated upon impact with my teeth.

  • Most mothers entering the labor market outside the home are naive. They stagger home each evening, holding mail in their teeth, the cleaning over their arm, a lamb chop defrosting under each armpit, balancing two gallons of frozen milk between their knees, and expect one of the kids to get the door.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • "At Wit's End," syndicated column ()
  • The term 'working mother' is redundant.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in New Woman ()
  • It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.

  • In general, they refused to eat anything that hadn't danced on TV.

  • Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in Time ()
  • The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.

  • Friends are 'annuals' that need seasonal nurturing to bear blossoms. Family is a 'perennial' that comes up year after year, enduring the droughts of absence and neglect.

  • I learned the importance of a man's chair early in life. I learned that he may love several wives, embrace several cars, be true to more than one political philosophy, and be equally committed to several careers, but he will have only one comfortable chair in his life. I learned it will be an ugly chair. It will match nothing in the entire house. It will never wear out.

  • [On her father's death:] I didn't know his leaving would hurt so much.

  • He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn't afraid to go into the basement by himself. He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of pictures ... but he was never in them.

  • Many people are intimidated by doctors. ... People also feel stupid when they don't understand what a doctor's talking about the first time around, so they don't ask again. And let's be honest here, people. English is not a doctor's first language.

  • Laughter rises out of tragedy when you need it the most and rewards you for your courage.

  • When I gave myself a home permanent and left it on too long, she was the only one to sit with me in the bathroom until it grew out.

  • When you look like your passport photo, it's time to go home.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • book title ()
  • What's with you men? Would hair stop growing on your chest if you asked directions somewhere?

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time to Go Home
    • ()
  • In the South Pacific, because of their size, mosquitoes are required to file flight plans.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time to Go Home
    • ()
  • There are few certainties when you travel. One of them is that the moment you arrive in a foreign country, the American dollar will fall like a stone.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time to Go Home
    • ()
  • When you're lecturing teenagers and they begin to hum and leave the room, you can sense there is hostility.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in Jerry Dunn, ed., Tricks of the Trade ()
  • Kids need love the most when they deserve it the least.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in Jerry Dunn, ed., Tricks of the Trade ()
  • My mother phones daily to ask, 'Did you just try to reach me?' When I reply, 'No,' she adds, 'So, if you're not too busy, call me while I'm still alive,' and hangs up.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • The 1992 Erma Bombeck Calendar ()
  • Know the difference between success and fame. Success is Mother Teresa. Fame is Madonna.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace, The People's Almanac Presents The Book of Lists: The '90s Edition ()
  • As a child, my number one best friend was the librarian in my grade school. I actually believed all those books belonged to her.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • letter to the American Library Association ()
  • In the mid-nineties a men's movement hit this country with all the force of two marshmallows colliding in midair. ... What were they going to ask for? Pay equal to that received by women?

  • When children reach the age of sixteen, they discover the meaning of life: car keys.

  • For the first two years of a child's life, we spend every waking hour trying to get the child to communicate. Then we spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out how we can reverse the process.

  • I have just come up with a wonderful solution to end all wars. Let me give directions on how to get there.

  • Occasionally, once a speaker is on his feet, it is difficult to get him to sit down. ... If and when he returns to earth, he notices half of the room is paging the other half and a few are playing with the melted candles.

  • ... the ultimate in longevity is the Christmas fruitcake. It is a cake made during the holidays with fruits that make it heavier than the stove it is cooked in.

  • Having a delivery covered by Medicare just isn't going to fly. It's too risky for a woman to put a baby down and not remember where she left it.

  • Hello there. I'm out social climbing, but if you leave your name and number and if you're anybody, I'll get back to you.

  • Explain to me how he [her son] can ride a bicycle, run, play ball, set up a camp, swing, fight a war, swim and race for eight hours ... and has to be driven to the garbage can.

  • What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?

  • I have dieted continuously for the last two decades and lost a total of 758 pounds. By all calculations, I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.

  • I never like to make generalities about people, but let's face it: People who love fruitcakes are 'different.'

  • A grandparent is the only baby-sitter who doesn't charge more after midnight — or anything before midnight.

  • I never go to a college reunion that I don't come away feeling sorry for all those paunchy, balding jocks trying to hang onto youth. I feel sorry for the men too.

  • One of the things they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child's name and how old he or she is.

  • There are few things in this world more satisfying than having your son teach you how to play tennis, unless it is having a semi-truck run over your foot.

  • I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night ...

  • Sexually active coat hangers are at their peak when they are in a small closet. We once lived in an apartment with a closet so small it couldn't support a rod ... just two nails. Within a week (the shortest gestation in the history of coat hangers) we had thirty-seven of those suckers.

  • In earlier days, I was a mother who made her kids pick up their rooms, make their own snacks and put their laundry in the utility room. Now when they come home, I put the rules aside I am like a concierge looking for a big tip. I follow them around asking, 'Are you hungry? Can I get you something? Do you have laundry?' I eat when they want to eat, cook their favorite foods just before they tell me they are going out with friends and watch helplessly as they eat their way through a pound of baked ham at three in the afternoon. On their visit, my life changes. I have no car. My washer is set at extra-large load and has two socks and a T-shirt in it. The phone rings constantly and is never for me. At the end of their visits ... I enjoy the quiet. The TV tuner is rescued from the clothes hamper ... The wet towels are put in the washer. The bathroom is returned to health standards. It is my world again. So why am I crying?

  • If the nest is truly empty, who owns all this junk?

    • Erma Bombeck
  • Encourage independence in your children by regularly losing them in the supermarket.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • My sister and I never engaged in sibling rivalry. Our parents weren't that crazy about either one of us.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • It is fast approaching the point that I do not want to elect anyone stupid enough to want the job.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • Housekeeping makes you about as exciting as your food blender. The kids come in, look you in the eye, and ask if anybody's home.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • I am not a glutton — I am an explorer of food.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they're finished, I climb out.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • Those magazine dieting stories always have the testimonial of a woman who wore a dress that could slipcover New Jersey in one photo and thirty days later looked like a well-dressed thermometer.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • A friend doesn't go on a diet because you are fat. A friend never defends a husband who gets his wife an electric skillet for her birthday. A friend will tell you she saw your old boyfriend — and he's a priest.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • [On beginning to write:] I was thirty-seven, too old for a paper route, too young for social security, and too tired for an affair.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • ... you should never have more children than you have car windows.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • The only reason I would take up jogging is so I could hear heavy breathing again.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • I'm going to call my Dad to tell him I love him — and listen to him say, 'This call is costing you a fortune' and hang up.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • Dreams have only one owner at a time. That's why dreamers are lonely.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • When humor goes, there goes civilization.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'

    • Erma Bombeck
  • A grandmother pretends she doesn't know who you are on Halloween.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?

    • Erma Bombeck
  • Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter-productivity.

    • Erma Bombeck
  • The woman who says, 'My kids are all speaking to one another and they love us' is a psychopathic liar.

    • Erma Bombeck

Erma Bombeck, U.S. writer, humorist, columnist

(1927 - 1996)

Full name: Erma Louise Fiste Bombeck