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July 21, 2008


My oldest son calls me at least twice a week to tell me a joke. He hangs up immediately after delivering the punch line. Now that’s the way to tell a joke. He never knows whether I laugh or not, so I’m never forced to give him a “mercy” laugh.

I know absolutely nothing about telling jokes, even though I have made a good living as a motivational humorist for over 25 years. I’m pushing 80. I laugh a lot. In fact, my name is Lola, which stands for Laugh out loud a lot.

I don’t tell jokes. I tell stories about all the funny things I see and hear around me, because I believe that only the truth is funny. These funny things are everywhere. Just yesterday I angrily called the complaint department of a local store. A woman came on the line and said, “Good Morning. How have we managed to ruin your day?” She made me laugh. My anger disappeared. It’s impossible to laugh and be angry at the same time.

Most jokes are preceded by “I heard the funniest joke today!” Says who?  I might not think it’s funny. So while you’re telling me the joke, my focus is not on you or the joke. I’m either:

  1. Worrying that I won’t laugh at the right place.
  2. Realizing that I’ve heard the joke before.
  3. Realizing that, not only have I heard the joke before, but… you are telling it differently.

Having said that, one of the funniest jokes I’ve ever READ is:

An extremely studious monk was assigned to working in the archives of the monastery writing copies of Catholic dogma. He often suggested to his superior that this dogma had originally been written by human beings The monk’s point was that human error could have caused some of the dogma to be incorrect. His superior just shook his head and sent him back to the archives.

One day the studious monk came running out of the archives shouting, “I was right! I was right! It’s the R. It’s the R!”

His superior grabbed his arm as he shouted back, “What are you talking about?”
The studious monk looked his superior right in the eye and said, “They left the R out of celebrate!

Now, I’m Catholic, and that’s funny!

June 26, 2008 

Wow! What a busy day was Friday, June 20th. Not only was it “ National Happiness Day,” but it was also “Take Your Dog To Work Day.” Actually I was extremely happy that I did not have a dog that I had to take to work.

Before that day was over, I discovered yet another reason to be happy. I read that the pigeons in St. Paul, Minnesota had begun receiving birth control pills in order to clean up the city for the Republican convention.

What a relief. A hold on baby pigeon birth does not mean less poop at the convention, but it does mean less pigeon poop!

June 6, 2008

Breast Cancer And Ultra Sound

A new study shows that screening women with both ultrasounds and mammograms allows doctors to find more breast cancers than if those doctors rely on mammograms alone. Oh how completely I can attest to that. Equally as important is the reminder that “Nobody knows your body like you do!”

How this came home to me as I sat in front of my home office desk that Thursday afternoon. I’d been having annual mammograms for 17 years with negative results. My breasts had always been lumpy. But this day in my office, one of the lumps felt warm…and it did not move. The lumps had always moved around before.

Even though I had had a mammogram only 6 months earlier, I called my doctor and he advised me to come in. I did. He felt the warm lump and sent me for a mammogram. The results were negative. My doctor determined to do an ultra sound. The tumor showed up.

A biopsy proved the tumor to be malignant. I had a radical mastectomy the next week. There were no cancer cells in any of my lymph nodes or the rest of my body.

That was 20 years ago. I’ve been cancer free and healthy ever since.

My point? I’m convinced that the ultrasound saved my life.  

May 28 , 2008

I just read in our local paper that the ancient art of belly dancing is being revived in Laguna Beach. Not for me it isn’t! My experience with belly dancing began and ended 34 years ago.

Hank and I had moved with our four sons from North Carolina to California, and I determined to take up this dance, because it had always fascinated me. I found a teacher and 4 other women who would join me in my home as students of the belly dance.

We met once a week. The other 5 students were naturals. I was not. They danced barefooted wearing toe rings and ankle bracelets. I did not. The only way I could gyrate my hips to the music without losing my balance was to wear high top hiking boots. I did.

And then the teacher introduced the use of finger cymbals and veils. My feet tripped over my veil, and the finger cymbals tripped over my fingers.

Thus began my 34 -year career in comedy.

April 29 , 2008

Reports I read indicate that CBS plans to move Katie Couric out of her nightly news anchor spot long before her contract ends in 2011.

I like Katie Couric. Some critics say she is too cute and chirpy. Others say she is just too perky. Feminists say Couric was criticized one day for looking too sexy and the next for being too aggressive. I think Americans simply dislike women who are in powerful roles. And…in high profile jobs… Women do have to be perfect! I think Katie was given so many suggestions for how she should be in front of the camera that she totally lost the chance to be herself.

Some people say that the problem is Katie’s salary. Now, that could be! If I were being paid 15 million dollars a year to report the evening news, I don’t think I could utter a sound when I stared at that camera…and I’m an entertainer.

The bottom line is: Under Couric, CBS Evening News ratings have fallen. Frankly, I think she was sabotaged by “higher ups” who never appreciated her aggressive interview style or presented her as an accomplished journalist.

I’ll miss you, Katie.

April 24 , 2008

I guess Congratulations are in order. Thomas Beatie, a transgender Oregon man is having a baby. Beatie was born a woman, but underwent a partial sex change some years ago. He grew a beard, changed his name from Tracy to Thomas, and married a woman. He’s the one having the baby, not his wife. Despite treatment with male hormones, Beatie kept his female reproductive organs, conceiving through artificial insemination. And of course he has appeared on Oprah, beard, big belly and all.

I’ve always loved being a woman, and I was blessed to deliver four boys vaginally in the 50’s and 60’s.

I know I’m naïve, but here’s my question. Through which orifice will  Beatie’s baby emerge?

April 20 , 2008

This is a direct quote from a speech made by President George W. Bush to military personnel in Afghanistan…

“I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed. It must be exciting for you…in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger.”

 How convenient that the president has twin daughters who are completely out of harm’s way.

April 15 , 2008

There are so many new books coming out now that make aging a thing of beauty. These books are telling baby boomer women how to look hot instead of old.

My oldest sons are baby boomers. I think they’re pretty cool, but…hot they’re not. Anyway, these latest books are not for men. They’re strictly for women.

I’m one of those. I may not be a baby boomer, but I’d still love to know how to transform myself from wattled to WOW!


45! Give me a break! When I was 45 I was hot to trot! The youngest of my four sons was ten years old, I still looked good in a bikini, and hot flashes were a thing of the far distant future.

Author Christopher Hopkins has appeared twice on the Oprah Winfrey show, and he dislikes the sneering tone of many current TV makeover shows and magazines. I agree with him on that. Hopkins says that anyone can take a 25-year-old model and make her look beautiful. He insists that HE prefers the challenge of working with older women.

O.K. Mr. Hopkins. I’m all yours!

March 4 , 2008

I just returned from speaking for a convention in Amsterdam. The presentation went well, and the audience made me feel like a celebrity. My husband and I even had time to visit the Van Gogh Museum, Vondelpark, and do some canal boat riding throughout the city.

It felt as if we had done it all when we arrived back home. But then I read in the paper what we had missed. The day after my husband and I left Amsterdam, the city adopted new rules allowing visitors to Vondelpark to have sex in public. It seems that decision drew immediate protests from animal lovers who were outraged that city officials also announced that dogs would no longer be allowed to roam in the popular park without leashes. Alderman Paul Van Grieken defended the new regulations, explaining that, unlike free-roaming dogs, public sex “isn’t a nuisance for the other visitors, and gives a lot of pleasure to a certain group of people.”

And I thought speaking for a convention in Amsterdam was fun.

Feb 27 , 2008

To his estimated 6 million followers, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a visionary whose philosophy could accomplish everything from relieving inner tension to promoting global peace. He died 2 weeks ago. His detractors say he was a huckster who got rich peddling metaphysical mumbo jumbo.

Either way, the Maharashi was responsible for popularizing meditation in the West, establishing its health benefits through scientific studies, and making a household word out of the term “mantra.”

The Maharishi built a business empire worth 300 million dollars in the U.S. alone during the 1970s. My family helped him build that empire.

It was 1973. We lived in Wilmington, North Carolina. I was teaching handicapped children how to swim at the YMCA. Two students of the Maharishi offered a two day course in Meditation at the YMCA…$100 for the whole family (That would be about $1000 today.) Our sons were 8,12, 16 and 17. My husband and I were in our forties.

The formula was simple: “A person could reduce stress and attain happiness by meditating 20 minutes twice a day on a secret Sanskrit word or mantra.” Sounded perfect for my hyperactive family.

Of course the family thought I had “lost it” but we all took the course. The hardest part was showing up for graduation with three pieces of fruit and two white handkerchiefs (for each of the six of us.) Wilmington is a small town, and acquaintances love to scan the contents of your grocery cart (18 pieces of fruit and 12 white handkerchiefs.) These items were supposedly gifts for the Maharishi.

Each member of the family got a “secret mantra,” and was told never to reveal it.

I have never revealed my mantra. Last week at a family night the boys and husband Hank revealed their mantra. Each one had the same…And each was the same as mine.

I’m the only family member who meditates today. Do I believe in it? It works for me!

F eb 21 , 2008

Dutch researchers published a study last week illustrating what many have suspected for a long time: Preventive care does not save money when it comes to smoking and over eating. In the study smokers died at an average age of 77, and their health care costs were almost $100,000 less than non smokers who were thin and died at 84; obese people died at 80 and cost $50,000 less than the non-smoking thin people who died at 84.

At the very same time, smoking has become verboten in bars and restaurants across most of Germany. The Germans are frustrated because now they cannot use their classic pick-up line, “Do you have a light?”

New lines have been attempted, but have not succeeded, such as…”I’ve lost my phone number. May I borrow yours?” and “You know what would look good on you? Me!”

So the flirting in Germany has moved from inside the bars and restaurants to out front, where it’s windy and cold. The newest pick-up line is now “Would you like to go back to my place to smoke?”

Brings a whole new meaning to that old Tex Williams song, SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE THAT CIGARETTE.

Jan 22 , 2008

He’s a super salesman. He’s a charismatic entertainer. He’s a Catholic priest.

I first met Father Fred at a reconciliation mass, a service that honors personal public confession. I chose him as my confessor because he didn’t know me. I could blurt out my sin, run to the car and remain anonymous.

But I could only blurt out one sin, because the church was filled with 300 people, and he was there to hear them all.

How different from my childhood days as a Catholic, when I had to wear a hat and gloves to kneel inside the partitioned DaVinci Code type booth while whispering, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.”

As an eight-year-old, my sins were quite childlike…”I forgot to take out the garbage. I yelled at my mother. I stuck a pin in my baby brother while he was sleeping to make him cry.”

Afterwards would come a stern lecture from my parish priest, insisting that I mend my sinful ways. This reminder ended with my being given a penance, usually to say two “Our Fathers” and five “Hail Marys.”

Not today with Father Fred. All 300 of us were asked to line up in two rows as we stepped forward to whisper our sin into Father Fred’s ear. Then he would whisper his forgiveness and blessings into our ear. We were also asked to wait our turn in silence and to pick up a strip of purple paper in the back of the church as we left. Upon that strip of paper would be written our penance.

I watched as people approached Father Fred. He smiled as he put his arm around each one, listening and then whispering back. When my turn came, I blurted, listened, and bolted to the back of the church where I grabbed my strip of purple paper and fled.

I did not read the penance until I got to the market with my shopping list. The purple strip read, “The next time you visit your favorite coffee spot, buy coffee for the person behind you.”

My favorite coffee spot was right inside the market. I clutched a $5 bill in my hand and marched up to the coffee counter. But no one was standing behind me. And then I saw a young man on the side perusing the coffee menu as he jiggled the coins in his pocket. I walked over to him and said, “Are you buying coffee?” He looked startled and said, “I haven’t decided.”

I grabbed his hand, opened it and pressed the $5 inside, as I babbled, “Please do and let me pay for it. It’s my penance.” I turned and ran to the car, completely forgetting about my shopping list.

If you’re wondering what I whispered into Father Fred’s ear, it’s been forgiven, so even I don’t remember!

Dec 18 , 2007

Well, at last! The city of San Francisco has decided to omit gender from ID cards issued to city residents because that city does not wish to offend any of  its transgender community members.

The new ID cards (to be given to anyone who asks for one) will include name, birth date, and a photo, but not the usual “male” or “female” designation. Those people in favor of the new ID cards have argued that it’s highly inconvenient for people who change genders to make their legal documents match their new identity.

As for me, I’m proud to be a female from start to finish. I just wish my ID didn’t have my birth date on it!

Dec 2 , 2007

For nearly 100 years, Postal Service employees have sorted through letters to Santa Claus, passing many on to volunteers, charitable groups and corporations that want to help. I decided that this year I wanted to get involved, so I called the listed 800# to go online to lend a hand in answering the Santa letters. It sounded like fun, and certainly a worthy cause.

How many times I have read and enjoyed the letter published in 1897, which ended with “YES, VIRGINIA THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS!”

I called the 800# and the following is what I discovered. This year for the first time, volunteers will have to present photo identification and sign a waiver releasing the Postal Service from liability for “all causes of action, claims, liens, rights or interests of any kind or type whatsoever.” There have been no lawsuits or accusations of impropriety, but the person on the other end of the line said, “The change was made to protect the children and protect the integrity of the program and the Postal Service.”

I wonder if Santa himself will have to present photo identification and sign a waiver before he takes off on Christmas eve?

Yes, Virginia, there is now even a clause in Santa Claus.

Nov 28, 2007

I worry. I worry about how drastically the stock market has dropped, along with the value of the dollar. I worry about the rising crime rate in our country.

But last week I read two articles that made me feel as if I’m not worrying nearly enough. One was in my daily paper and one was in my weekly news magazine.

The newspaper article tackled my money worries. What a relief. I no longer have to be concerned about not owning a Hermes Crocodile Birkin handbag.  I can now rent that bag for only $6,010 a month, twice the cost of my mortgage payment. Besides, if I wanted to buy that bag, I’d have to join a years-long waiting list. How encouraging it is to know I don’t have to feel guilty about expensive handbags cluttering up my closet. I can enjoy more luxury and still feel good about it.

The magazine article was about my second worry, our rising crime rate. My fellow american housewives are taking care of that issue. They are now hosting taser parties to promote ownership of that handy crime-fighting device. In the tradition of Tupperware, cosmetics, and sex-toy parties, groups of neighbors are now gathering for snacks and drinks in a private home, while a local policeman introduces them to the portable nonlethal stun gun which delivers a paralyzing jolt of electricity. The gun is light, it’s small, and it comes in assorted colors.

I think I’ll choose a cognac colored gun, to match my Hermes Crocodile Birkin handbag. 


Nov 23, 2007

I love living in California, but it was wonderful to be back east last fall. The leaves on the trees were those beautiful autumn colors that I remembered as a young girl growing up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. It was almost as if nothing had changed.

My plane landed in Greensboro and I rented a car to drive to celebrate my sister’s birthday. As I drove away from the airport, rain fell. I missed my turn onto I40 and had no clue how to get back.

I stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. As I walked towards the door I stepped on an oil slick and fell to the ground. A black man jumped out of his parked truck and ran towards me. He stood over me and said, “Are you all right?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “May I touch you?” I said, “Yes. I need to put my arms around your neck so you can pull me up.” He leaned over me and I put my arms around his neck as he got me to my feet.

I said “Thank you,” but the man had already run back to his truck and sped away.

“May I touch you?” the black man had said. It truly was almost as if nothing had changed.


Nov 7, 2007

My husband has a child who is his namesake. I do not. My husband has a grandchild who is his namesake. I do not. When I was in grammar school I begged my mom to let me change my name to Charlie (I had just seen a movie with Joan Leslie, and her name was Charlie!) My mother said, “Absolutely not! You were named for my mother, and Lola is a beautiful name.” Which meant my grandmother also had a namesake. I still did not.

And then the movie DAMN YANKEES came out. The star’s name was Lola. Even more exciting, the hit song in that movie was “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets.” I wore out 20 recordings of that song. By then I had four sons. I survived their infancy, childhood and teen years by singing along with that tape over and over again at top volume. And then I read in a name book that Lola means strong woman. That same book said that Lola is the feminine form of Charlie. AND THEN …Revlon came out with a new perfume named Charlie. I have never worn another scent since.

I now have three granddaughters-Ashley, Krystal and Verenia. Those names don’t even SOUND like Lola.

Last Friday my namesake arrived at last. The grandchildren chose her name. Her name is Lola. I don’t think she looks quite like me.

Nov 1, 2007

I mourn the passing of an old friend, Good Manners. Just the other day a woman drove her car around me into a parking place, which I obviously was waiting for, my right blinker on. The woman was talking on her cell phone and never looked back. I determined that very moment that I would become more assertive.

I was raised in the Deep South at a time when children were seen and not heard, and waiting your turn meant just that. Our family of five shared one bathroom, and if I didn’t get out of bed when called, my turn was rescheduled for last.

I’m a lot older now, but I still wait my turn. Last Thursday, I was in line at the bank to make a deposit .I even stood behind the mark on the floor, so I couldn’t read the customer at the counter’s check number (What a joke! I couldn’t have read that number if I’d been sitting on his shoulder. I didn’t have my glasses on.) Suddenly, a young man dashed through the front door and headed straight for the teller.

My usual Deep South demeanor would have been to just wait until he was finished. But, remembering my promise to become more assertive, I walked up to the man, got right in his face and shouted, “Hey, am I invisible?”

The man looked absolutely stunned, but I was not done. I continued shouting even louder, “I’m sick and tired of everybody’s bad manners in my life. Last week it was a parking place and now it’s you. I can just imagine what you will be teaching your children by example. And when they get a driver’s license they will be taking parking places in every block while answering text messages diligently. And then they’ll run into the bank and jump ahead of the line just like you have done today.”

I stopped to take a breath. I realized everyone in the bank was staring at me. The young man said, “Madame, I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed. I’m late for work and I honestly did not see you. Please accept my apology.”

I was speechless. That young man must have been raised in the Deep South too!




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