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Erma Bombeck Writing Contest: My Erma Bomb

image courtesy of Anna Lefler

In hopes of winning a free pass to the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, I entered the 2010 contest. The criteria from the contest website:

All Entries – General Criteria:
· Does it have the voice of Erma? Erma knew how to portray the humor in the mundaneness of everyday life.
· Is it organized? Does it stay on topic and have well-developed ideas?
· Does it have a compelling lead? The piece should “Hook ’em with the lead. Hold ’em with laughter. Exit with a quip they won’t forget.”

Humor Entries:
· General criteria as stated above.
· Is it funny?

By Ann Imig

I’m losing my cool.

I don’t mean losing my temper. I mean losing any shred of coolness I once possessed. I scampered alongside the cool crowd in high school. I played enough lead roles in university theater to make me queen of the comedy/tragedy tattooed crowd. My thumbs have a recessive abnormality causing them to look like big toes. What could outrank toe-thumbs in coolness? Once rich in cool reserves, with age comes the inevitable prizing of practicality. Wearing a winter hat–even if I look like a triangle-headed dweebus–provides such cozy warmth. What concerns me even more than loosing my cool, is loosing my Tech-knowledge-ease.

As I approach middle-age, I’m morphing into a blinking twelve’oclock VCR person. Do VCRs even exist for anyone under 30? I meant TiVo. Do you say “A Tivo” simply “TiVo” or is it “DVR?” Before long I will use phrases like “the email” as in I tried to send you a message over the email. The mere fact that I still communicate via email? Paleozoic.

I try pushing my mental reset button, but it’s a hologram now and I don’t know how to use it. When purchasing an item, I still try to give the cashier my credit card to swipe. Confused, the clerk will point to the debit machine in front of me—eyebrows raised. I deserve it. We’ve swiped our own cards for years. This same clerk probably imagines me sitting in my car at the gas station, waiting for a pump boy to come out and fill up the tank. More likely, the eighteen-year-old clerk has no knowledge of this moment of full-service gas history. Stone age.

Does anyone else flounder in multiple-remote situations? I experience mild panic when pressing a power button results in no television, yet a ceaselessly blinking remote control. You know you’re a walking movie-night-faux pas, when your host has to remedy your remote. Remember the days of manually turning a dial to change stations? Sure, it was exhausting, but you didn’t have to fret over the pristine order of the remote control goddesses.

What exercises should I repeat daily to shore up my remaining tech-knowledge-ease? Solving crossword puzzles helps ward off dementia. Maybe I should time myself sending text messages, forcing myself to switch between all caps and lowercase. Perhaps my three-year-old can school me in the art of iPhone. Did I mention I still have a land line? Fossils here! Getch’yer fossils!

If I don’t do something to shore up my tech-knowledge-ease, my fossilized remains will show two huge thumbs, no “hip” bone, and will be filed under “Techno-saur.”

Insert GROAN here […] Then go read Erma Bombs by three of my favorite humor writer bloggers Anna Lefler, Lisa Page Roseberg/Smacksy and Wendi Aarons


36 comments… add one

  • Cheryl March 15, 2010, 6:33 am

    Wow! I finished the tour of you losers. You all rocked it Bombeck-style. Those judges must all have been technology wizards. Like my spouse. The freak. I have 6 remotes and still can’t play a DVD all by myself. If that doesn’t tell you you’re not alone in the world, maybe this will help. I’ve managed to keep a landline on hand, don’t tweet or twit or whatever it is, and will never throw away my boombox with the tape player. By the way, what’s speed dial?

  • Maureen@IslandRoar March 15, 2010, 6:55 am

    Love it, great job. And how true…

  • ♥ Braja March 15, 2010, 7:15 am

    “I try pushing my mental reset button, but it’s a hologram now and I don’t know how to use it.”

    Un-f&^%ing-believably brilliant line, that one. As for my reset button? I tried pushing it and it jumped to Star Movies and now I’m on warp-speed Hindi confusion with exploding Bollywood dance numbers full of gorgeous babes being chased by a fat, 1970’s-gear-clad moustachioed, pot-bellied crooner.

    ….and that’s just the ads….

  • ♥ Braja March 15, 2010, 7:16 am

    You wanna come over and play?

  • Wendi March 15, 2010, 7:41 am

    I had no idea you were a Thumbelina! And those should make you good at the texting, no?

  • Wendi March 15, 2010, 7:42 am

    I had no idea you were a Thumbelina. But those toe thumbs should make you good at the texting, no?

  • Anna Lefler March 15, 2010, 7:42 am

    Anna here…speaking to you from the typewriter-television to say how much I loved your entry!

    :-D A.

  • hokgardner March 15, 2010, 8:40 am

    I never had any shred of cool, so I’m not as worried about my coolness factor these days. Besides, my kids don’t yet know more about computers than I do, so I have a few years left of looking like I’m not an idiot to them.

  • Pearl March 15, 2010, 8:41 am

    Well I’da voted for ya!


  • Anna See March 15, 2010, 9:12 am

    i’m pretty much a luddite here. is that even how you spell that?

    loved all the loser entries– all winners in my book!

  • French Skinny March 15, 2010, 9:13 am

    I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that the “judges” (said with bad smell face) somehow didn’t actually read this because it’s hilarious and perfect. Erma is proud of you. She is also trying to get better judges for the next one.
    I can’t believe my kid wants more food. I’m totally on a roll here.

  • Robin March 15, 2010, 9:14 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Robin March 15, 2010, 9:15 am

    Dont ya mean two huge “toes”..that alone makes it impossible to text..especially on an I phone…I would have voted for you too…I still think you’re kool…except for the land line..what is that….LOL..?

  • Lisa Page Rosenberg March 15, 2010, 9:40 am

    I love this. And you, my sweet Leftover.

    I married a tech savvy young man, otherwise I would be writing this to you on lavender scented stationery, the normal way.

  • Buggys March 15, 2010, 10:24 am

    Did you write this about me? Have you been hiding in my living room?
    You had me laughing with joy and understanding…you should have won!

  • bernthis March 15, 2010, 11:05 am

    to this day whenever someone asks me to text them, I think, can’t I just call you, like in the old days

  • Spot On Your Pants March 15, 2010, 11:14 am

    I like your hat. And isn’t the popular crowd more transparent when you’re at the edge and occasionally reaching in?

  • sfabrications March 15, 2010, 11:19 am

    NOOOOOOO! I’m not old! not old! not oldddd!
    35 is young and sexy, and we deserve FULL SERVICE and a single remote, dagnambit!
    It’s just other people who’ve gone insane, I’m sure. Pah.

  • Suzy March 15, 2010, 12:33 pm

    I’m going to my grave with my landline. Because a certain person who shall remain nameless Jessica Bern always uses her cell phone and it’s just not as clear and stable as a land line.

    Either that or I’m going deaf.

    Carry on.

  • Shelly March 15, 2010, 2:47 pm

    I give this essay two thumbs up. Two circles and a snap would be cooler but no, it’s a Siskel and Ebert double-thumb salute for you. And as to those digits, the reference evokes Tom Robbins’s big-thumbed hitchhiker Sissy Hankshaw (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.) She couldn’t handle a remote either, but for different reasons. Nice work. Erma would be proud.

  • Deb March 15, 2010, 4:52 pm

    you’re lying about the land line, right? poetic license, RIGHT???

    i do those anti-dementia puzzles and games like a crazed lunatic. if i don’t get a high score every few days, i go over my living will with my husband… just in case.

  • Mike's Girl March 15, 2010, 5:54 pm

    This is so true! I hit future-shock when I tried to change the T.V. channel with my cell phone.

  • The Empress March 15, 2010, 8:11 pm

    Oh, this is done in true Erma Bombeck style!! Why didn’t this one win? Are you sure they saw it? Absolutely sure, b/c it is Erma speaking from beyond the grave.

    Absolutely fantastic. Kinda sad I relate all the way around, but, fantastic, nonetheless.

  • Kate Coveny Hood March 15, 2010, 9:36 pm

    I loved it. Especially the part about handing credit cards to clerks. I still do that and have no idea why…

  • TheBunny March 15, 2010, 9:38 pm

    The real fun must be in being the judge for this contest because you guys are great! These must have been some spectacular entries!

    If you really want to make a 20-something laugh talk about the album you have. Then make them roar when you refer to making a mixed tape. It didn’t get any better when I tried to correct myself by saying mixed CD.

    I’m afraid that the very fact that I capitalize correctly in my text messages dates me.

  • Spencer L Casey March 15, 2010, 10:24 pm

    Fight it Ann. Fight it with every breath of your life. Don’t let technology win.



  • injaynesworld March 16, 2010, 12:42 am

    Wonderful piece, Ann. I hope you win. Wish I could go to the workshop, but I may just have to try to find that PBS documentary about her.


  • Clark Kent's Lunchbox March 16, 2010, 10:27 am

    The power keeps going off and I have to be reset everyday. Growing up we had to use a pair of needle-nose pliers to change the channel–the dial had fallen off and without the pliers you’d get a nasty shock trying to find Hogan’s Heroes.

    Funny piece. =-)

  • LAR1975 March 16, 2010, 3:33 pm

    Hi! I’m not under 30, so I do know what a VCR is, but truth be told, never cared enough to learn to work it. I love movies, actually, just love laziness more I guess! On another note, anyone know why this humor-writing competition is only every two years? There’s really so much talent–in the “leftovers” as well as the winning entries–to smear the mayonnaise around, I think! Enjoyed your “bomb”eck, Ann.

    Thanks much; have a great day!

  • CatLadyLarew March 16, 2010, 5:40 pm

    Gee… now I wish I would have entered so I could have joined you in the ranks of the Erma Bombers! It’s a pretty awesome group of you that got bombed.

  • KLZ March 17, 2010, 8:43 am

    Don’t worry, pretty soon the machines will overthrow us and we won’t have to worry about programming them. So you’re cool.

  • Jen March 17, 2010, 6:23 pm

    I’m right there with you. I can’t figure out the remote, my iPhone mocks me, as does AT&T because they know I only bought the damn thing because it looked so cool. I’m afraid to ask how it works. Both my kids have surpassed me on the computer and any other techno toy. Which means if I need help there is bargaining to be done.

  • Keyona March 17, 2010, 7:06 pm

    Love it! :)

  • Bejewell March 17, 2010, 8:57 pm

    I call it “My TiVO” or “that piece of shit,” depending on the day. FYI

  • Margo March 20, 2010, 10:13 am

    You fabulous “L” on forehead, you. I yearn for those days of having to warm up the television. My latest old geezer thing is I always think I hear beeps from battery drained devices going off everywhere. Teens have started patting me on the head.

  • tricia April 18, 2010, 11:45 am

    Wonderful! I do relate to this. Why, oh why, was this essay not a winner? I, too, have an “Erma Bomb” as you so aptly put it. Mine was called “Actually Thinking Outside The Box.” Maybe we should try again next time.

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