Friday, February 24, 2012


Erma Bombeck
When I was young and giddy I used to aspire to be a writer like Erma Bombeck or Peg Bracken. I'm sure you remember hearing of Erma Bombeck. If you're too young to have followed her columns, your mother probably did. She wrote riotously funny pieces about mundane housewife stuff, day in, day out, in good times and bad. She died too young.

Peg Bracken

Peg Bracken penned such classics as The I Hate to Cook Book, The I Hate to Housekeep Book (my bible for many years), I Didn't Come Here to Argue, and I Try to Behave Myself: Peg Bracken's Etiquette Book. In the old days there was such a thing as etiquette. Hey, did I ever tell you I knew Judith Martin (Miss Manners to you) socially, when we were both young and giddy and working for the Washington Post? Yes. I have a past. I go back a long way. Once I knew The Great Ones.

But I never could be as consistently funny as Erma Bombeck or Peg Bracken (although I can be pretty funny on a good day), or as certain of what was right and good as Miss Manners, or as light-hearted and innocent as they all used to seem. Few can. The world has changed for woman writers. Nobody wants to hear about etiquette anymore, or about women who do nothing more than rattle around the house and try to keep it together. The women who don't want to hear about politics and world problems – topics I don't have the chops to write about – want to hear about body building, exercise, and grooming, which if you think about it are even more narrow and self-absorbed than etiquette and housekeeping. Or they want to hear about who is sleeping with whom and who is having or has had whose baby. And who is divorcing. Who are these Kardashians that you speak of? Are we to emulate them? Why would I want Kim Kardashian's skin?

As you can see, I've been spending too many hours standing in line at the supermarket, perusing the tabloids. Sorry about Whitney Houston. Sorry for all the dead ones. But, I tell you what, I like good fluffy froth. Not dumb gossip about stupid people, not, gawdhelpus, advice, how to lose weight, how to have Kim Kadashian's skin, but writing that skates lightly over the brutalities of real life with grace and humor. This is what I still try to do. Sometimes it works.

Kate Gallison


  1. Thanks for reminding me - I need to get a copy of I Hate to Cook!!! tstraw

  2. Kate, I thought I was just uncool to find all that boring. Until I read this I would have thought Kardashian skin was a dermatological condition requiring cortisone. Now, I know that all that insider knowledge is just as boring to others as it is to me. Emma was never boring. You are ALWAYS entertaining!!!

  3. It worked this time, Kate. Love the way you see things!