Ed Ackerman

Ed Ackerman Pittston Progress cv30ackermanp2 Warren Ruda / The Citizens’ Voice

The handful of you who read my blog recognize that headline.

It introduced a story about a woman in front of the Pittston Post Office turning to me and saying, “I can smell the birds peeing.”

I’m not often at a loss for words, but this time I was. I did begin sniffing the air, however, wondering, what on earth she was talking about. As I got to my car, I thought, “All I can smell is …”

And then it hit me.

What she really said was, “I can smell the Burger King.”

I blame her mask.

I often say writing my blog is easier than writing my column because nobody reads it. Well, my old friend Tony Alu reads it. And quite faithfully. He even texted when it had not appeared in a couple of weeks. He was afraid I’d retired. Turned out to be a computer glitch. My sister Sheila reads it, but typically in bunches. She’ll read 10 or 12 at once. My nephew Joe Gromala does the same. He likens the experience to eating potato chips. “Just one more,” he’ll say to himself.

Aside from them, though, who knows? So, I figured I’d end the year by sharing a few. Call it a shameless plug.

In April, I quoted Ben Franklin: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Oh, yeah? Then why did He allow National Beer Day, April 7, to fall in the middle of Lent when I am not drinking? So what if that’s the date in 1933 when Prohibition was repealed. Over the years, by the way, the day before has come to be known as New Beer’s Eve. I celebrate with a Diet Coke.

There were few reasons to laugh in 2020, so I tried to inject some humor. In one attempt I shared what I call the worst joke ever. It involves Edward R. Murrow, the radio pioneer who came into American homes every night in 1940 and ’41 with his “This is London” broadcasts commenting about the Nazi bombing of the city.

Here’s the joke:

There was this Potato Princess. (Don’t ask questions, just bear with me.) Her father was the Potato King.

One day, the Potato Princess told her father, “Daddy, I’ve met the man I want to marry.”

“Wonderful!” the Potato King exclaimed. “Who is this lucky man?”

“Edward R. Murrow,” the Potato Princess announced.

“No! No! No!” the Potato King bellowed. “No daughter of mine will marry Edward R. Murrow!”

“But why, Daddy? Why?” the Potato Princess cried. “Why can’t I marry Edward R. Murrow.”

“Because,” the Potato King declared, “Edward R. Murrow is nothing but a commentator.”

Get it. Common? Tater? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Sticking with the humor theme, I turned to the late “Pidge” Watson, my boss for more than 20 years. He told me a joke every day, and I remember all of them. “I love soup du jour,” I can still hear him say. “But the problem is, everybody makes it different.”

Hearing that COVID-19 can cause a loss of smell brought to mind a story that goes back 40 years. I lived in an apartment in Allentown. One evening I unlocked the door and was hit with a smell that told me something was wrong with the sewer. I dashed downstairs to ask the elderly couple on the first floor if they knew what was going on. But the stench coming from their place was even worse. Not as bad, however, as my embarrassment when I told him why I was there. “See,” the man yelled to his wife, “I told you that cabbage stinks.” He turned back to me and said, “Sorry. She can’t smell a thing.”

I wondered how I’d ever face them again. But when I ran into them two days later, they were their old friendly selves. “We’re going flying,” the man said. “I’m a pilot. She’s the navigator. She looks better than she smells.”

The blogs weren’t all bad jokes. At times I got serious. Here’s one of those, written in the middle of the pandemic lockdown:

They call death “The Great Equalizer,” but so, too, can be an emergency.

There’s not much difference between driving a Maserati and driving a Ford when there’s nowhere to go. Not much difference between dining at the Westmoreland Club and dining at Wendy’s when both are closed. Not much difference between the most luxurious toilet paper and the cheapest store brand when the shelves are empty.

Barriers tend to disintegrate at times like this. It’s reminiscent of the Flood of 1972. When the stock broker was filling sandbags right next to the stock boy, they soon discovered they were more alike than different. Too bad it takes a flood, or a novel coronavirus to remind us.

I’ll close with something I always write at this time of year. It’s the New Year blessing of Father Charlie Rokosz at the beginning of 1996:

“In the new year may you be blessed with enough prosperity to remain humble.”

Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist. Look for his blogs online at pittstonprogress.com.

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