Monday, April 19, 2010

Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop 2010

Bird as E. B. Heron. Photo courtesy of Wanda Argersinger EBWW 2010

In case you were wondering why I have not posted anything new since last week, I was attending the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop (EBWW) at the University of Dayton. I will be posting photos later in the week.

If you read my column about four down from here, “Is Dayton the Boondocks of Ohio?” You already know that I called Enterprise Rent-A-Car to lease a car and I drove round-trip between Philadelphia and Dayton, OH. The drive out there in my new Chevrolet Impala was uneventful, thank God. On the way back, however, I transported a 3-foot tall plastic blue heron, a.k.a. “Bird,” in my trunk along with some luggage and a bag of goldfish crackers. You see, I usually get it, either coming or going.

Not to be flip or anything, but what’s up with the Bird?

That was the question throughout the workshop. Frankly, when you are attending an event with 350 other humor writers, how else could you find your Table? We needed a point of reference. Bird was our landmark and mascot. Humorist Wanda Argersinger brought him on the plane from Florida. She was detained as a possible terrorist in Pensacola. After Homeland Security took Bird apart and he passed inspection and then they gave Wanda a mammogram, both of them arrived safely in Ohio and took a taxi to the Dayton Marriott.

Check-in was interesting "One room or two?" the clerk asked Wanda.

Bird stood on our table for all events, including meals, at the University and Marriott Hotel. He left an extra tip for the Bellhop, who was instructed not to grab him by the neck or feet, as he was ticklish.

On Thursday, Bird was standing on the table at Parmizzano’s in the Hotel with me, Wanda, and Pam Goldstein, host of Boker Tov, on CJAM 91.5FM Windsor, Ontario. Erma Bombeck’s daughter, Betsy, walked in and politely avoided eye-contact with Bird and the three weirdoes sitting at the table. Pam noticed Betsy’s EBWW bag and almost grabbed her by the arm. Pam didn’t know who she was.

“Are you attending the Workshop?” Pam asked.

I distinctly heard “Oh shit” but didn’t know where that came from, Bird maybe.

“Yes” Betsy said.

“Please join us,” Pam said.

I almost choked on my pumpkin soup when I saw that it was Betsy Bombeck being impelled to our table. Yes, that was the soup of the day on April 15th. I don't know why I ordered it, but I was feeling like I should have a shopping cart standing on platform nine and three-quarters.

We all had a nice chat and found out that Erma’s mother also wrote a book and Betsy is now a building contractor in Phoenix, AZ. She never did warm up to Bird, though.

Mo Rocca, who was there filming the event for Charles Osgood’s CBS Sunday Morning couldn’t get an interview out of Bird; However, he did get about 40 minutes with humorist Tracy Beckerman. You will get to see Mo’s interview with Tracy; it is scheduled to be aired on Mother’s Day.

Our impressive keynote speakers included Loretta LaRoche, Gail Collins, Bill Scheft, Steve Doocy, and W. Bruce Cameron.

Somehow, during the course of our weekend, Bird got tanked and became "E. B. Heron." As you can see from the photo above, he is partial to Miller Lite.

On Sunday, I took a few minutes to pause over at Woodland Cemetery, where Erma Bombeck and the Wright Brothers are buried – all pioneers of their craft, to say a prayer of thanks.

I will write more about EBWW later, as I just noticed some goldfish cracker crumbs spilling out of my makeup kit.


jane, candid said...

Rosie, it was such a pleasure to meet you and all the crew at the conference! The bird helped me find you, but it was the pink crowns that helped me identify each person without having to squint at her chest with my bifocals and try to make her first name. So thanks for the headgear!
What a fabulous weekend, made even better by all the truly funny and kind people I met. Thanks!
Jane Bretl

Rose A. Valenta said...

If you send Matt an e-mail and join the news group, you can thank Jody for making our crowns. It was great meeting you at EBWW 2010!


Anonymous said...

Rose, I'm not sure, but I think that bird had a better time at the conference than ll the rest of us did!

Columnist said...

Rose, what a blast! We'll have to emblish "Bird" even more for Erma 2012, Joanie

Rose A. Valenta said...

Yes, and he's been giving me a rash of BS because I locked him in the trunk.