Gentle Humor

Suzanne Olsen's Humor Blog – I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Category: Relationships Page 1 of 3

My Advocate

My advocate, Laurie, helping me celebrate
My advocate, Laurie, helping me celebrate my first published humor article.

At the end of this morning’s Mass our priest gave us a homework assignment. He told us to think about a person who has been an advocate for us. In his sermon, Deacon Bill defined the Advocate, or the Holy Spirit, as a comforter, counselor, friend and companion. 

Lots of people have been one or more of those to me, but if I have to choose just one, it’s my friend Laurie. I’ve dumped my troubles on her in the most boring and repetitious ways and she’s given me support when she’d probably just as soon slap some duct tape over my mouth.

The best thing is she’ll listen and do it quick. You don’t get much phone time with Laurie, she’s always busy, so you’ve got to launch right into your whining – get right to the point about what a jerk someone has been so she can (a) agree with you and (b) pile more on, even if she’s never met the person, and (c) give her tidbit of either advice, “the person is a jerk, you gotta just walk away,” or sympathy, “the person has always been a jerk, I don’t know how you stand it.”

Laurie doesn’t like conflict, so she’s not going to present you with an opposing view – she’s never a “devil’s advocate.” Lots of friends will try to gently inform you that you have something to do with your current misery, and if you simply take their advice you’ll live happily ever after. I know Laurie feels that way about my troubles, I’m not stupid, but she doesn’t kick me when I’m down. She doesn’t want to fix me. She just wants to hang out, although one time after being saturated with my repetitious indignities, she did tell me, “Well, Suzanne, you’re no picnic.”

When I got my first humor article published in The Oregonian, Laurie invited me over. She had congratulation balloons, bonbons, and a jar of Nutella on the counter with two spoons. Yes we’re white trash. There were also generous servings of alcohol to celebrate. Some people are jealous of your accomplishments, but she never is, or else she’s a good actress. I’m so shy and insecure (I’m a good actress!), that when I made a video about my projects I sent it to her for an opinion. She called and said, “Oh my gosh, that video is hilarious. You say, ‘and that’s not all, and wait there’s more,” and you say ‘that fish is about frying pan size.’ John and I are still laughing. It’s so funny.” I asked if I should show it to others. “Oh yeah, it’s hilarious. You gotta show it to everybody.” It’s a couple blogs down from this, and no one else thinks it’s funny. Laurie keeps bringing it up every time I talk to her: “Oh my gosh, that video. Too funny!”

Years ago, after I had a stillborn child, and I thought we should have a funeral, Laurie called my friends and asked them to come. One said, “The baby wasn’t even alive, why are they having a funeral? I don’t want to miss work.” I have no doubt that Laurie felt the same way, but she called anyway, and she came to the funeral, because she knew it would comfort me. Funerals are for the living.

So for my homework, I pictured several people who’ve been advocates to me – friends and relatives who have helped me in big and little ways, from the man who pulled off the freeway and changed the flat tire on my rental car, to my neighbor Eric who hobbled down the trail on his newly operated knee to rescue my little dog when I lost her.

So I want to thank all of you, my Mom and Dad, my husband, children, brother, mother-in-law, aunt, cousins, niece, nephew, friends. Wait. This sounds like I’m practicing for an academy award speech. I want to thank all of you who have given me great counsel, been my friend and companion, gone with me on journeys just so I wouldn’t have to go alone, and comforted me in low times and made me laugh. I owe everything to you guys. I can feel the Holy Spirit flowing through you, whether you believe in him or not.

My Guardian Angels

Stading beside the garden trellis I built
My garden trellis. Thank you Guardian Angel!

I know it’s not cool to talk about religious beliefs, unless it’s about “the universe.” I’m not sure who “the universe” is – sounds like a committee of aliens – but for some reason “the universe” casts its random favor on people. I prefer to call them Guardian Angels. Not only do they help me with the big things like avoiding a car crash or speed trap, but little things that happen all day long.

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Torturing Your Husband with Back Seat Driving

This conversation is pretty much verbatim how I abused my poor husband when we met friends for a late dinner out of town. I was tired and he wasn’t getting me back to the motel quick enough. We had our little dog in the car with us. I’ve written it like a movie script – it’s pretty easy to figure out who’s talking (I’m the spiteful nag).

You missed the exit.

No, I think it’s this next one.

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Our Sweet Momma

Photo of our sweet momma when she was young.

My momma was sweet – that’s a great gift to have in a mother.

I grew up in East Tennessee, where the summers were hotter than a half f…..ed fox in a forest fire, as my dad used to say. He was in the Navy and literally cussed like a sailor.

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Whatcha Thinkin’?

Do you ever wonder what people think of you? I do. I’m always saying to them, “You must think I’m a complete idiot.”

I really don’t have a clue what a person is thinking, though. When I would first start dating someone, and there was a lull in the conversation, I’d ask, “Whatcha thinkin’?” He was most likely thinking, “How much of this talking am I going to have to endure before she’ll let me in her pants?” But he’d always pause and say something like, “I was just thinking how much I like hearing your voice.”

I’m no better at reading women’s thoughts. I’ll be at the mall with a girlfriend and we’ll bump into someone we know.

My friend will say to her, “Hey Marcie, you look great. I love that new hairdo. And have you lost weight? It’s so good to see you – we have to get together.”

After Marcie walks away my friend will say, “Oh my gosh did you SEE that hair? What was she thinking? It looked like canaries styled it – how do you GET hair to be that uneven? Do you think she cut it herself? And those pants. She’s put on a good ten pounds since I saw her last. Oh my gosh! That woman just drives me crazy, did you hear how she went on and on about how smart her daughter is. It’s all she ever talks about. She just drives me nuts.”

I’m listening to all this and thinking, “You just treated her like she was some movie star you were delighted to see, and now you act like she’s a bragging, disheveled fat slob.”

Because I’m pondering this and quiet for a second my friend says, “What are you thinking?”

“I was just thinking about what you say about me when I walk away.”

Laughing, she says, “Oh, I only say nice things about you.”

“Really?” suspecting she’s not telling the whole truth.

“Of course, you’re a nice person. Why else are we at the mall together?”

“Because you have no other friends.” We both laugh as if this is the silliest thing in the world, because she has tons of friends.

And I still don’t know what she, or anyone else, thinks of me. Maybe it’s better that way. Maybe I’ll just make up in my mind what people think, since there’s no way of knowing for absolute sure.

“That Suzanne is so funny! She writes these humor blogs and hits the nail on the head every time. I mean, I just LOVE her. What a delightful human being she is.”

I like it! This is what I’m going to think from now on. At least that’s what I think I’m going to think. I’d better stop thinking about it before I start wondering if everyone thinks I’m a complete idiot…

The End of Men

I was looking through Sunday’s paper – yes I still get the paper, mainly because I’m addicted to doing the Jumble Puzzle. Plus they have artsy items of interest.

For instance, there was a review of a book, The End of Men, by Hanna Rosin. I haven’t read the book, and only part of the review, so this makes me the laziest blogger on the planet, but I was drawn in by the catchy title.

It looks like the book is about men being unnecessary – or, as the review said, they’re the new “ball and chain.” I know they’ve driven us crazy all these years, what with doing things ass backwards, half-assed, or with their heads stuck up their asses*, but have women really come this far that we feel men are holding us back or weighing us down?

As the Three Stooges would say with a New Jersey accent, “Certainly.”

Just kidding. I suspect women could afford to be more picky now that we no longer need a man to give us a home or children. And since we work out at the gym, we don’t really need them to open jars for us anymore.

I do think, however, that men are pretty interesting creatures to have around. They probably need us more than we need them, but I believe we are better off with them than not, and I personally would not like to see an end of men in our future.

*This does not imply that I believe they are all jack asses.

Stubborn Southerners

So when I was back in Tennessee a couple of weeks ago, I went with my friend, Mary, to see her mom, Belle. I used to practically live at their house growing up. Mary’s dad, Demp, gave me the endearing name, “The Boarder.”

Belle lives in Fall Branch, out in the country, and since Demp passed not too long ago, her thirty-ish nephew, Josh, has been staying with her. Josh is a computer engineer who is currently out of work, most likely because he has no social filters. Mary informed me on the way.

Josh was downstairs stoking a fire in the unfinished garage/basement, but came up later and joined us at the kitchen table. Mary dished him up a bowl of chili.

“It sure is hot down there,” he said. “But if I build a hot fire in the basement, it’ll warm up the whole house. That way we don’t have to turn the heat on yet.”

Then he said, “Man, I’m hot. I’m going to take my pants off.”

“No you’re not, Josh,” Mary said in a low, controlled voice.

“Why not?” he said. “I got boxers on – it’s the same as wearing shorts.”

“No it’s not, Josh. You will not take those pants off and sit here at this dinner table eating chili,” she said firmly.

“I don’t see why not,” he said, and eased his tall, lanky body into the chair, brought his head close to the bowl and started wolfing down chili. All you could see was the top of his blond head.

Mary looked at me and mouthed, “See what I mean.” Then she said, changing the subject, “Do you get the Hallmark channel, Suzy?” I said yes. “We don’t get it here anymore unless you pay extra for it.”

Josh yanked his head up. “That’s not true!” he said like he was defending his mother’s honor. “It’s free with cable.”

“It used to be, Josh,” Mary said with contrived patience, like she was talking to an impudent child. “But a few months ago they took it away.”

“They did not,” he said like a defiant child. “You can still get it for free.”

“They sent us a letter, Josh, and said it wasn’t free, and when we didn’t pay extra they dropped it.” Her voice rose as the last words came out.

“You can still get it if you have cable,” Josh said, not giving an inch.

They went back and forth like this for some time, their voices almost shouting. Belle leaned over and said to me under her breath, “They sent me a letter too and said you had to pay more or they were going to cut it off.” I started giggling because it was so ludicrous. Who gave a crap either way? But these two were NOT going to let it go. Finally I said, “Mer, I want to get a picture of you and your mom.”

“I want you in the picture, too,” Mary said.

Josh jumped up and said, “I’ll take the picture.” I thought it was pretty nice considering he and Mary were this close to coming to fisticuffs over the Hallmark channel just seconds before.

My camera has an on/off button and a button to take the picture. That’s it. An imbecile could operate that camera. Josh, the computer engineer, didn’t seem to have any trouble. He pointed the camera at us, then looked at the picture on the camera’s screen and said, “Oh, that’s a good one, but let’s take one more just in case.”

We posed with arms around each other, grinning like a mule eating briars, and he took the picture.  Again Josh looked at the back of the camera and said, “That’s a really good one. You’ll be happy with that.”

Later that night, when I got back to my aunt’s house where I was staying, I uploaded all the pictures I’d taken, and every single one was there except the two that Josh took. My camera is a $400 Canon point and shoot, and it doesn’t make mistakes. Either Josh didn’t press down the shutter on purpose, or he deliberately deleted the pictures.

Mary might have won the pants battle, and she didn’t back down one bit during the Hallmark skirmish, but I do believe that Josh got the best of her in the end.

I went to Tennessee a couple of weeks ago to get some fried okra and brush up on being Southern. Or as Atley, my son Chris’s friend, would say, “Su-then.” He’d make jokes about my accent, saying, “Chris, your mom’s Su-then,” putting an emphasis on the “Su-” part to bring out the accent. It got laughs from everyone, so I went along. When I’d say something like, “Atley, can you pick up your glass and take it to the kitchen?” he’d say, “Suzanne, you Su-then.” Maybe you had to be there to truly appreciate it, but now in my head the word is no longer “Southern” but “Su-then.”

Anyway, on one of the layovers in the airport (no one flies to Tennessee from anywhere in the US without laying over in Chicago or Dallas or both), I decided to write out my top most fun times, and was kindof surprised at the things I wrote down.

They weren’t the times when I went to expensive dinners or to fancy plays or even tropical vacations. They were just regular times with one thing in common. I was with someone and we got the giggles until everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, became funny and we burst out laughing over and over again at absolutely nothing.

I’ll give you a for instance. After high school I dated this guy who was pretty funny – I called him Bangum, a Su-then pronunciation of his name. He had a great bunch of friends who fortunately became my friends, and once when Bangum was out of town, his friend, Adrian Ferguson, asked if I wanted to go see a horror movie at the drive in. This was about the extent of our entertainment options back in the day in Kingsport, Tennessee – going to some B-movie at the drive-in.

The movie was so bad that we could predict every plot point coming way before it happened. It was the kind of movie anyone with any taste would have left after the first few minutes, but Adrian kept making sarcastic remarks about everything and I got the giggles. This prompted his humor to seek loftier heights, and he kept firing funny comments, each one more ludicrous than the last, until I was begging him to stop so I could catch my breath.

He wouldn’t stop. He had a captive audience, and there was plenty of material  on that giant outdoor screen. I can’t remember the plot, seems like it was about an illusionist who was so good that he could actually saw a woman in half – blood squirting out in all directions – and the audience only saw the box with the lady’s smiling head on one end and her wiggling feet on the other. Of course we, the moviegoers, could see the poor sawed lady screaming and guts and blood everywhere.

There was something in the movie about hitting a woman with a rubber hose. It was supposed to be horrible, but the whole concept of someone attacking a woman with a rubber hose sent us both into hysterics. Here’s the scene in our car.

Adrian: “You’d better behave, woman, or I’ll beat you with a rubber hose!”

Me: “Ha ha ha, oh please stop, don’t say rubber hose again, ha, ha, ha, no, no, no don’t I can’t take it anymore, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Where’s the bathroom – stop or I won’t make it, ha, ha, ha, please, you have GOT to stop.”

Adrian: “I’m going to beat you with a rubber hose.”

Me: “HA, HA, HA, oh please, please, please stop, HA HA HA HA HA oh my gosh I can’t breathe, stop, don’t say anything for a couple of seconds, let me catch my breath, ha ha ha.”

Adrian: “I’ll beat you with a rubber hose.”

I don’t’ know if I made it to the bathroom in time. I don’t know if we even stayed to the end of that dreadful movie. All I know is that I laughed longer and harder and with such complete abandon that I didn’t even feel like I was part of the world anymore.

That’s the great thing about going back to your hometown – I got to see Adrian and Bangum during my visit, along with a myriad of other friends and family – and we relived lots of fun times with fresh laughter.

I don’t care what Atley says, I’m darned happy to be Su-then.

Don’t Wanna See No Naked Man

Men do not look good naked – at least not to women. We don’t mind a nice looking guy in a pair of shorts – except if they are short-shorts, which look almost as bad as a naked man. A guy in a speedo is the worst. This may be an acquired taste for some women, but the rest of us would rather look at a puddle of vomit full of maggots than a man in a speedo.

Unlike a woman, who will incite a veritable stampede of men if she simply takes off her shirt, a man must have other qualities besides a nice body in order to attract a women. He is forced to demonstrate his manly prowess by opening stubborn jar lids.

In the animal kingdom, males have to work very, very hard to attract a mate. They’ve got to butt antlers with other males with the force of a sledge hammer, or make their feathers stand up like they’ve stuck their beak into an electrical outlet.

The human male species, most of which lack either feathers or antlers, have to resort to other rituals to attract women. They will offer to carry things for you to show how strong they are. They will buy you dinner to show how much money they have. They’ll put on some manly smell-um.

You wanna know what’s really funny, though? I use Word for Mac to write, and Word is constantly underlining words because I am not the most accurate typist in the world. Hence as I write it looks like some nasty English teacher has just graded it.

At the moment, this blog is full of those red underlined words. I will run spell check and it will find correct most of them, but there will still be some intractable words remaining that I’ll have to Google to verify their spelling or change them to something else that I know I can spell.

Amongst the typos and the normal words that look like they’re spelled correctly but Word, the hussy, underlines them anyway, Word has let me get away with the word smell-um. It just did it again. Is smell-um seriously a real word?

I’m going to have to take this matter to Google and see if smell-um is, in fact, a bona fide word in the English language because frankly I don’t mind telling you that I would be shocked – SHOCKED – if it in fact is a real word. Be right back.

OMG, the Urban Dictionary says it IS a real word, although they don’t hyphenate it. Here’s what they said:




Smell-um (smael-um) -a fragrance, often used in personal care products that are applied to one’s person.1. Ulysses Everett McGill from O Brother, Where Art Though: “I like the smell of my hair treatment; … as soon as we get ourselves cleaned up and we get a little smellum – Dapper Dan Hair Tonic – in our hair…”

2. Calvin Klein’s Obsession is a nice little smellum.



So I tried to imitate the spelling by taking out the hyphen, but Word isn’t having any part of that. It likes smell-um but not smellum. Go figure.

Speaking of figures, I like a man in some low-slung jeans and barefoot without a shirt if he doesn’t sling them too low like those ridiculous Abercrombie and Fitch guys. I do NOT want to see the top of a man’s hairless pubic area. Someone must have waxed the hair away – those pants are so low – which seems sissy. I look away when I walk past their store in the mall. It’s the antithesis of attracting a mate, in my mind. Worse than a naked man, and it’s hard to get much worse than that.

Why I’m No Longer Embarrassed

The beauty of maturing is that you don’t have to suffer through embarrassment anymore. I remember being in my teens and EVERYTHING embarrassed me. If I walked out of a bathroom with toilet paper clinging to my shoe, it was enough to make me want to commit hari kari.

All I ever wanted to do back then was blend in and not make a spectacle of myself. I’d rather skip a class than walk in late.

Now it doesn’t bother me a bit to straggle in late to something. I have been late to golf tournaments and either (1) begged a golf pro to give me a ride out to the hole or (2) run across several fairways trying to catch up with my team. I wave at everyone I pass and no longer think a thing about it.

Certainly it’s better not to get into situations where I’d be late, but now I see that it’s more important that I’m there than it is to worry about what people are going to think of me. I know my team needs me – I get lucky and hit a decent shot every now and then. I also know that if you are kind to people they’ve forgive just about anything.

Although if someone isn’t kind to me, I’m not embarrassed about what I say. One time I was in a crowded parking lot, it was around Christmas, and I was waiting for someone to back up so I could get their space. It was someone really slow, and they eased out, taking an eternity. When they finally got out of the way and I was pulling in, a car came out of nowhere and whipped into the space. A tacky woman and her hunched over boyfriend got out – she was driving. I yelled, “Hey, you took my space.” She yelled back, “I got there first.” I yelled, “But I was waiting for it.” And she yelled, “So?” And I yelled back at the top of my lungs, “You’re nothing but white trash.”

My daughter literally dived into the floorboard of my car. “Oh my gosh, Mom, please tell me you didn’t just yell across the parking lot and call someone white trash in front of all these people.”

“Well, she is,” I said.

My daughter is embarrassed about everything, and she was shocked. We had just been to church. “What if someone from church heard you?” she asked. She didn’t want to get up, even though the white trashy woman had already waddled into the store. Her boyfriend at least had the decency to look sheepish and shrug his shoulders as if he agreed with me but what could he do?

Years ago I would never have confronted that woman, and maybe I’m white trash myself for doing it now, but I just don’t care. If someone I knew had heard me, I would have been mortified, I guess, but I would have made the best of it.

Maybe that’s the difference. Maybe it’s not so much the fear of embarrassment anymore, it’s knowing that, whatever happens, I’ll manage to get through either by being witty or silly or apologetic or whatever it takes. Plus I’ve discovered that people don’t really pay that much attention to my goings-on. Nobody’s waiting around to see what I might do and pass judgment on me.

If I could give advice to teenagers, I’d say, “Don’t let fear of embarrassment hold you back from anything you want to do.” I’d have a whole ton of other advice, too, if any of them would ever listen, which they won’t. Especially if they’re related to me.

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Copyright © 2020 by Suzanne Olsen