David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books — Mothers, Names

Mothers

• Humor writer Erma Bombeck spoke early and often in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, which failed to become law in the 1980s. In doing so, she was criticized by many people, including a politician who said that she should be at home having babies. Ms. Bombeck pointed out that her “babies” — she had adopted a girl and given birth to two boys — were old enough to vote against the politician.

• Lesbian author Kay Wolff adopted a couple of children in Colombia and began attending PTA meetings and taking her children to soccer practice. One day, the soccer coach patted her on the back and said, “We know how hard it is for a single mother.” She replied, “I am not a single mother. I am a lesbian.”

• Lesbian author Gail Sausser’s coming out to her mother was non-traumatic, as her mother simply said, “I know.” Gail was surprised and asked, “How could you know?” Her mother replied, “I watched you grow up.”

Music

• Michael Thomas Ford, author of That’s Mr. Faggott to You, once attended a gay pride rally in New York in which speaker after speaker got up and spoke about the gains that had been made by gays and lesbians. He cheered and pumped his fist, but still felt guilty for being slightly bored. After all, he thought, this could be any rally for any group. There wasn’t anything at the rally that set gays and lesbians off as being different — and isn’t being different part of what’s good about being gay? Just then, the loudspeakers poured forth Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” and 7,000 gays and lesbians jumped to their feet and started dancing. Mr. Ford joyfully writes, “It was a moment that could only happen when 7,000 queers stood up and reminded themselves that it’s a lot more fun to be different, even if it costs us something.”

• After retiring from opera, Geraldine Farrar began giving music concerts. At one midwestern college, a student newspaper reporter spoke to her, explaining that he had a problem. He had been asked to write a review of her concert, but the only thing he knew enough to write about was football. Therefore, he asked that she write her own review. She did so, giving only modest praise to herself, but heaping praise upon her artistic colleagues. One colleague was especially pleased by the review, and he used to quote it in advertisements in trade papers. Ms. Farrar never told him who had really written the review.

• On the 1922 trip, E.B. White took along a one-stringed instrument he had created from a stick and a cigar box — and which he played with a worn violin bow. Apparently, Mr. White was good with the instrument; he once played a flawless “Wearing of the Green” for an Irish gas station attendant in return for a tank of gas

Names

• When Ian Fleming was looking for a simple, but solid, name for a British spy character in his novels, he looked over his book collection and found the perfect name in the ornithologist author of Birds of the West Indies: James Bond. Mr. Fleming met Mr. Bond after his books had made the name “James Bond” famous. Fortunately, Mr. Bond regarded it all as great fun.

• Each year, the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America give the Nebula Award. Unfortunately, the Nebula Award that Isaac Asimov won in 1976 for Best Novelette reveals a problem that Mr. Asimov was faced with throughout his career — people find his name difficult to spell. The notation on the Nebula Award says that its winner is ISAAC ASMIMOV.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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