BetteBack February 12, 1994: Readers’ Slings And Arrows Cut To The Quick

Aiken Standard
Slings From Readers Cut To The Quick
By Erma Bombeck
February 12, 1994

There s a story about the successful businessman who had a small box on his desk with a little red button. A curious visitor one day asked, “What’s that box for?” The executive said, “When I push that button, absolutely nothing happens. It keeps me humble.”

Writers don’t need boxes on their desks. Every day they are reminded by someone how they could brighten up a room by leaving it.

Example: Recently I received a letter from a guy suggesting that if I turned out to be the most famous person to call a Rochester radio DJ before a certain date, I could win $1,000.  He went on to say that if I actually won, it would be nice if I helped his friend pay for his last term in graduate school at George Washington.

The letter would have been both tempting and flattering had I not noted that it was addressed to “Emma Bombeck.” If HE didn’t know who I was how could I possibly expect to be the most famous person to call in? Unless, of course – it was Helen Clinton.

It happens every day. A kid desperate to get a term paper written by you will tell you how you have been the center of his universe ever since he can remember. You have given purpose and substance to his life. He has laughed with you since clinging to his mother’s knees. On Page 2 will be one terse sentence “If you don’t answer back in two days, I’m writing Ellen Goodman.”

We are used to put-downs from our families. When my husband says he went to the library and all my books are in, that is something I expect. Or when a good friend calls and asks, “Did you call me?” and you say, “Yes, didn’t you get my message? “and she says, “It says here, ‘Irma Domfeck called,”‘it’s OK.

It’s the brickbats from strangers that hurt, A few years ago I was in New York outside my hotel, awaiting a cab. A man and a small mongrel-type dog were standing beside me. A photographer came up and asked if I minded stepping behind a potted evergreen and out of his shot. It seems the dog was just in a movie with Bette Midler and the photographer was doing a “spread” on him.

You want to talk humble: I was standing behind a bush that minutes before the “star” had wet on. The only point in bringing all this up is that I just read a letter from a reader who said, “Lady, don’t give up your day job!”

This IS my day job.

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