Synopses & Reviews
It would have been a wonderful wedding -- had it not been mine.
The sun was shining. Relatives were speaking to one another. The bridegroom showed up. At the altar waiting for me was a man I met in high school, who had served in Korea following World War II, and who looked great in a uniform. Ernest Borgnine looked great in a uniform!
Bill was a stranger. I had only known him for seven years. People had longer conversations with waiters over the "specials."
What could my parents be thinking of with all that drivel about "You're not getting any younger?" We had no car, no place to live,, no furniture, and no sterling silver pattern. I wondered if you were legally married if you didn't have a sterling silver pattern. Bill didn't even have a job. He had a year left of college. No doubt about it. My parents were making a big mistake!
Nothing was working out right. As a child I had always fantasized about having a wedding that was above our means. And here I was in an oversized bridal gown that I bought on sale, a cousin snapping our wedding album pictures with a box camera, and my mom smelling like the baked ham she cooked all morning to transport to the wedding reception.
And what was going to happen to my dreams? I had big plans for me. On my graduation from college, I was going to New York to work for the" New York Times" as a foreign correspondent. If that fell through, I had a firm offer to write obituaries for the "Dayton Herald" in Ohio.
Now, here I was two weeks after my graduation, walking down the aisle of the Church of the Resurrection to say "I do" without so much as a job description.
We both chewed only a half stick of gum and saved the other half. (How many people did that!) We both loved Robert Benchley's humor, hated communism, and what was the other thing? Oh yes, we both loathed going to the dentist. A lot of couples we knew started off their marriages with less.
As I knelt by his side, I observed through my veil that he had a smattering of white paint on his ear. The faint odor of turpentine hung over him. He painted houses in the summer for extra money. That would have to change. Surely, he could find something more dignified to do. Besides, I had no intention of hanging around someone with whom you're afraid to light a match.
The man definitely needed work. But I had years ahead to mold him into the husband he was capable of being. First, I made a mental note to let his hair grow out. God, I hated his burr. It made him look like a shag rug that had just been vacuumed.
And we'd have to do something about his eating habits. I came from a family that considered gravy a beverage. He ate vegetables, which I regarded as decorations for the mantel. Imagine spending the rest of your life with a man who had never had cold dumplings for breakfast!
His best man and poker-playing buddy, Ed Phillips, passed him the ring. I smiled as Bill slipped it on my finger. Ed and the entire group of merry little men were soon to be part of the past. No more single life -- playing poker until all hours of the morning. From here on in, it would just be the twoof us, watching sunsets and gazing into one another's eyes.
As our shoulders touched, I was challenged by the idea of setting up a schedule for him. All the years we had been dating, he had been late for everything. I was vowing to spend eternity with a man who had never heard the "Star-Spangled Banner" or seen a kickoff at a game...never watched a curtain go up or heard an overture. He looked so relaxed. He couldn't know that I would soon teach him the virtues of putting the cap on a ballpoint pen so that it wouldn't dry out and instruct him on how left-handed people are supposed to hang up the phone so they won't drive right-handed people crazy.
The priest was Polish and between his accent and the Latin of the Mass, I strained to interpret his words. Then loud and clear I heard him admonish, "You, Bill, are to be the head of the house and you, Erma, are to be the heart."
In his dreams. What did he think he was dealing with here...a child who chose a nickel over a dime because it was bigger? I had seen the "heart detail" and I didn't struggle through four years of conjugating verbs to get choked up over my husband's high bowling scores.
Maybe I could talk Bill into being the heart...or at least trade off once in a while.
""I now pronounce you man and wife.""
With the possible exceptions of "We have lift-off" and "This country is at war," there are few phrases as sobering.
The reception was held in a social hall near the edge of town, usually reserved for VFW picnics. Folding chairs lined the wall, giving the hall the intimacy of a bus station. A long table covered with white paper was in the center of the room and held the cake and the mound of ham sandwiches.
A carpulled up to the entrance. A couple with six kids piled out. The man yelled to no one in particular, "Charlie's here! Where's..."
In this lovingly hilarious look at her 44-years-and-counting marriage to a man she wouldn't trade for anything in the world -- who would finish her sentences? -- Erma Bombeck offers observations as only she can, on:
- The true test of compatibility: buying a house that "needs work"
- Surviving parenthood, and the nest that won't stay empty
- How times of struggle are a piece of cake compared to handling success
- Elevating guilt to a sacrament
- What to do with a man who saves instruction manuals; thinks a fishing license makes a great anniversary gift; and, thanks to the remote control, has never seen a television commercial
- Frazzled mothers wondering who they have to sleep with to get fired from the job
- Facing maternity, mortality, and metamorphosis together
This entertaining portrait of an American marriage is Erma Bombeck at her most intimate, and her funniest.
Bursting with all the humor and heart that made her classic Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession a 52-week bestselling phenomenon, this memoir of marriage is Erma Bombeck at her finest. Since 1949, her life with husband Bill has unfolded in a universal tale of love and laughter.
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About the Author
Erma Bombeck, one of the most popular newspaper columnists in the United States and the author of numerous bestselling books, died in San Francisco on Monday, April 22, 1996 from complications following a kidney transplant earlier in the month.
Bombeck had been ill for some time. In 1992, after she underwent a mastectomy, her kidneys failed and she began dialysis at her home in Arizona. She suffered from polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary complaint. Even with her illness, Bombeck continued her weekly schedule of housework, her source for the hilarious columns and books for which she was widely loved.
"My type of humor is almost pure identification," she once told The New York Times. "A housewife reads my columns and says, 'But that's happened to me! I know just what she's talking about!'
"If I didn't do my own housework, then I have no business writing about it. I spend 90 percent of my time living scripts and 10 percent writing them."
Erma Bombeck's books include Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession, which spent an entire year in the Number One spot on The New York Times bestseller list; Family: The Ties That Bind...and Gag!; If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?; I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise; When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time to Go Home, which was a New York Times bestseller and the sixth biggest selling nonfiction book of 1991; and A Marriage Made in Heaven...Or Too Tired for an Affair.
There are over twenty million copies of Erma shelved, and her thrice-weekly syndicated columns reached an estimated thirty million readers every week.
Bombeck was a regular on ABC-TV's Good Morning America for eleven years. She holds fifteen honorary doctorates, has been named to the list of the 25 Most Influential Women in America by the World Almanac since 1979, and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the President's Advisory Committee for Women when it was formed in 1978.
She is survived by her husband, William Bombeck, her mother, Erma Harris, and her three children.