This will be one of three pieces on my favorite subject –– humor. Most of it is taken from my book In-house family stories (as compared to outhouse stories) are rarely funny to those not in the household. There are a few exceptions. I hope you’re amused by these real-life commentaries.

When Chie and I were married 18 years ago, I bought her an extremely expensive kimono to wear during the wedding reception. For the ceremony itself, she still wanted a white wedding gown. What choice did I have? I did suggest that we rent a gown razther than buying one. “After all,” I said, “you will only be wearing it once.” Her quick reply: “How do you know? Since then, during our 21 years together, she has gotten even sassier. She is becoming a wise-ass. Recently, after suffering a small criticism, I put on my pouty face, mimicked tears and whined, “My wife doesn’t love me anymore.” She looked me in the eye and said, “You mean she used to?” I have created a monster. I sometimes get even. Chie is Japanese and, like most Orientals, has problems differentiating between the letters “L” and “R.” These two sounds do not occur in Japanese and Chinese. (Readers may remember bad jokes about “flied lice.”) What an opportunity! At voting time in early November, whenever we visit friends, I tell that that Chie is very excited because it will soon be “erection” day. English is Chie’s second language. She speaks it almost perfectly, but I have fun with her regarding certain expressions. One day, when I was getting out of the shower, she looked at me and said, ‘Marv, you are an eyesore.” “No, my dear,” I replied. “Your choice of words is close, but not exact. What you mean is that I am a ‘sight for sore eyes’.” Chie is 39 years younger than I am. Consequently, she frequently worries about being left alone after my demise. Once, when she voiced her fears for the umpteenth time, I tried to reassure her. “Don’t worry,” I told her. “I will give you at least another 20 years. “Do you promise?” she asked. My prompt reply, “Cross my heart and hope to die.” Chie often complains that her legs are too short. Not so. Still, I need to correct her misconceptions from time to time. “Look,” I say, Your legs are exactly the right length. They are long enough to reach from your body to the floor. ” She doesn’t buy it. While it was I who taught Chie to drive, she now insists on chauffering., since she no longer trusts my driving. She claims that I doze off at the wheel. “that may be true,” I told her, “but I want youto know that I drive better when I’m asleep than most people do when they’re awake.” She doesn’t buy that either. A popular fur in Japan is Tanuki –– a member of the raccoon family. An American friend suggested that I buy Chie an ankle-length Tanuki coat. My response was that “ankle-length Tanuki” is a contradiction in terms. Having been born and raised in Japan, when Chie first arrived in New York, she was not exactly subservient, but she certainly deferred to authority, particularly male authority. Personally, that was fine with me but, in an aggressive society such as ours, her attitude was detrimental to her career prospects and ambitions. Sensing that a change was necessary, I tried very hard to convince her to become more aggressive in the outside world, while remaining soft and agreeable at home. Unfortunately, just the opposite has happened.

When I questioned may daughter Sari, then 15 years old, what she would like to be when she grew up, she assumed a pixie look and answered, “an Heiress.” My immediate response, “Over my dead body.” In a discussion with my sons, Jonathan and Jay, about the growing number of suicides at college campuses, I expressed my concern and commented that, in my eyes, there was only one thing worse than suicide. “What is that?” they asked. In my most curmudgeonly voice, I answered, “Patricide.”

My sister Inez was a wonderful person, but a tight lady with a buck. Just before her death at 86, so as not to burden her family, she wsent to a funeral parlor, made all the arrangements and prepaid the bill, One question she asked (and, believe me, she was serious) was, “Do you give senior-citizen discounts?”

This item of family memorabilia may be difficult to swallow, but I swear that it is true. A number of years back, my niece Sylvia married a magician. Six months later, he disappeared. # # # # # # # # # #