Erma Bombeck Writing Competition: Essay

Photo of Erma Bombeck
"Hook 'em with the lead. Hold 'em with laughter. Exit with a quip they won't forget." ˜ Erma Bombeck

2004 First Place - Humor - Global

Rachael Phillips - Plymouth, IN, United States

"Dam It All, Anyway"
“Mom, when you visit, can Bryan go out to eat with us?” my daughter’s voice vibrated with love over the phone. A veteran mother of college students, I knew the drill: I date him, you feed him. “Sure,” I said. I mentally scrolled through a current list of my children’s significant others. No Bryan. No last name. But, no matter. The next day I picked them up at Calvin College in Michigan and took them to a local restaurant. Mellowed by the illegal joy of a plate of pasta big enough to feed Christy’s floor, I regarded her new flame with benevolent eyes: tall, open, friendly as a blond Labrador pup. Hungry as one, too. Bryan vacuumed his ample plate, half of Christy’s and devoured his giant Cookie Monster dessert with the sweet, uncomplicated delight of a Beaver Cleaver. A nice boy. A boy who chose a conservative Christian school in the Midwest and was now telling us about his large, close-knit family. I sank comfortably into my seat. I always knew Christy was smart, like her mom. “You should see us all at Christmas!” Bryan enthused. “The whole damn family shows up. Same at weddings. All my damn cousins and the damn aunts and uncles. . . .” I froze, my smile tight as a girdle. My own Cookie Monster languished, untasted. On Bryan babbled. I heard nothing—nothing but damn . . . damn . . . damn. . . . Did the boy know no other vocabulary? How dare he use that kind of language in our presence! I dropped them off at her dorm. Bryan cheerfully told me he could hardly wait to introduce Christy to his whole damn family. I screeched out of the parking lot in my minivan, praying he would smile himself to death. He didn’t. To my relief, Bryan had to work the next time we visited. But, of course, Christy wanted to talk about him. “I’ve never met anyone like Bryan Dam,” she gushed. “Don’t you start, young lady,” I growled. Silence. Then, a sudden brilliant grin. “Mom, his last name is Dam. Didn’t you know that?” I’m learning. Before long, that Dam boy put a diamond on my daughter’s left hand. In August last year, his Dam parents and more than a hundred friendly blonde Dam sisters, Dam uncles and aunts and Dam cousins traveled from a small Dutch village in Ontario, Canada, to our town to help celebrate—of course!—the Best Dam Wedding Ever. It’s the Dam grandkids someday that worry me. . . .
Author's Bio:

I am a senior at Bethel College, Mishawaka, IN, majoring in English. I have published four biographies and several magazine articles. I am married to Steve, and have two married daughters, Beth (Frank), Christy (Bryan), and a son, David.