Interview with Erma Bombeck

Someone interviewed me recently and wanted to know if I saved ideas so that I could be assured of at least one strong column a week.

I don't save anything. My pockets are empty as the end of a week. So is my refrigerator. So is my gas tank. So is my file of "ideas" I trot out the best I've got, and come the next week, I bargain, whimper, make promises, cower and throw myself on the Mercy of the Almighty for just "three more columns" in exchange for cleaning my oven.

I didn't get to this point overnight. I came from a family of savers who were sired by poverty, raised in the depression and worshiped at the altar of self Denial.

Throughout the years, I've seen a fair number of my family who have died leaving candles that have never been lit, appliances that never got out of the box, wines that were being saved for "something special" and the new sofas shrouded in chenille bedspreads.

It gets to be a habit. After a while, you have dreams that you hide away for the days when you have time. You have nice compliments to say to people that you put aside until the "right moment." You squirrel away plans to take a trip when all of you can "get away." You have old grudges that you are going to settle when you "get around to it."

I had a relative who, for years, entertained in her basement. I once described the decor as " Early Hot Water Heater." We sat on glider swings, and drank from plastic as we surveyed the room around us: a workbench, outdoor tables, mismatched lamps and stationary tubs. Upstairs was a perfectly beautiful living room that was misnamed.

I used to call her and say, "lets to to lunch today! We'll eat something fattening and talk about everyone who isn't there. She always hesitated and said, "let's plan it." We'll have all week to look forward to it." Usually by the time it rolled around, one of us couldn't go...

I have learned that silverware tarnishes when it isn't used…. Perfume turns to alcohol and never smells as sweet as when it is used…. Candles melt in the attic over the summer... plastic left on the lamp shades to keep off the dust makes them wrinkle… and ideas that are saved for a "dry week" often become dated.

I always had a dream that when I am asked to give an accounting of my life, to a higher court, it will go thusly, "So, empty your pockets. What have you got left of your life? Any dreams that were unfulfilled? Any unused talent that we gave you when you were born that you still have left? Any unsaid compliments or bits of love that you haven't spread around?"
And I will answer. "I've nothing to return. I spent everything you gave me. I'm as naked as the day I was born."