Every time I get into a give and take situation it turns out to be GIVE and take. When I was just starting grammar school I was talked into trading my brand new red pencil box with the Mickey Mouse logo and neato crayons drawer, for a turtle.

I had always wanted a pet turtle I could tell my troubles to in strict confidence and that I didn’t have to take for long walks.  I shouldn’t have told all this to my classmate Skippy who claimed to have a turtle ranch in his back yard and said he had just the hard-shelled beauty that met both my specifications.

I should have been more specific and insisted on a live turtle. That was in early September.  By the following spring I began to realize my lethargic pet, Snoozy, had not been hibernating, but had gone on to wherever turtles go on to.  By then Skippy had traded the pencil box for a BB gun and six comic books. The last I heard he was a big shot on Wall Street and owned a sizable portion of Long Island.

I’m really out of my element when buying a car. I was well into discussing a down payment and monthly installments on a small sedan when I noticed the framed plaque on the office wall and realized I was in the clutches of the dealer’s “Salesman of the Year”. I would rather have been haggling with some desperate fellow who hadn’t sold a car in a month.  Anyway, I managed by hard bargaining to get Mr. Hotshot to agree to a deal where I only had to give up lunches for three years.  I felt a little guilty when he said he was going to plead with his manager to okay this “overgenerous contract”.  But later I was sure I heard raucous laughter down the hall and what sounded like the popping of a cork on a champagne bottle.

Heaven help the country if I ever get involved in high level international negotiations. I can imagine reporting at the White House on the results of my meeting with Pacific Rim representatives. “Mr. President, I am happy to inform you that I have secured an agreement granting us unlimited tuna fishing rights between the Aleutians and the China coast.  I must add, on the down side,  that we have to give up Hawaii and a west coast city to be named later.”


I now find myself giving my grandchildren the same false information my mother gave me and that I often repeated to my children. It’s a genetic thing and I can’t help myself. The subjects come up and I automatically start misinforming. I hope some day my grandkids will realize they’ve been misled about some of life’s important issues.

First of all, spaghetti is definitely not better the next day. Mom used to say that all the time but she had a good excuse. It was during the Great Depression and if it wasn’t going to be second-hand spaghetti, the only other available entree was baloney sandwiches on stale bread.  But face it, spaghetti on day two is no longer al dente, it’s al mushy. The family had already devoured any meatballs on day one, so repeat spaghetti was not only al mushy, it was without accompanyment except for the stale bread.

I’m almost certain a swallowed watermelon seed will not result in the growth of a watermelon inside your stomach. Mom must have been kidding. I wasn’t so sure about this when I was about four years old and saw Mrs. Swanson next door who was eight and a half months pregnant.  I gave up watermelon for several years. Just to be safe I now stick with the seedless variety. (Where do they get the seeds for next year’s crop?)

You can safely open an umbrella indoors without bringing on a spell of bad luck. Just don’t open it under the ceiling fan or next to the knick knack shelf and you can do it while cracking your knuckles without bringing on arthritis.

Eating all the bread crusts will not promote curly hair. Mom said that because she was trying to get as many vitamins and minerals as possible into us from a ten-cent loaf of bread in 1935.  I still eat the crusts but the only curly hair I have is dangling out of my ears and nose. I once thought my wavy hair was due to eating  the crusts but I realize now it was just waving goodbye.

Mom was right about her Santa Claus warnings. I”m sure he’s still keeping a list and checking it twice.  I’ve tried to be good and I’m still waiting for my pony, but there have been a lot of years and a lot of pounds, so maybe he should think about a Clydesdale.


I thought I’d do a little bragging down at the senior center.  “Maybe you’ve heard,” I said to my pal Paul, “I’ve got a blog.”

Paul looked a little startled, just the effect I was hoping for.  “Don’t worry,” he said. “My brother-in-law had one of those.  It’s a simple procedure and after a week or two in rehab you’ll be as good as new.”


Hi:  You might remember my “Imagine That” columns in North Jersey Media newspapers. I wrote a weekly humor column there for about 16 years before being downsized recently. If you missed all 832 columns, that’s okay. I can understand you were busy with important things.  If you’re very old like me you might remember my earlier “Gene Newman’s Journal” columns in the Citizen of Morris County and a few humor pieces in the New York Times Sunday editions.  Now and then a reader would tell me I had sometimes made him laugh at the end of a difficult day.  That’s really what I’ve always had in mind.

I had hoped I had a lifetime assignment and wanted to die with ink on my fingers or at least correction fluid.  Now, after several unpublished weeks I’m beginning to experience withdrawal symptoms.  If you were one of my loyal readers and have recently noticed periods of involuntary twitching, maybe I can help.  I’ve signed up to publish this online blog and I’ve read volumes of detailed instructions assuring me it’s a simple operation. So I’ll give it a try.

Please stay tuned to this station and let me know what you think. I’m sure to make some technical mistakes.  When I was a kid they were still sending messages with carrier pigeons and a computer was the guy behind the grocery store counter who itemized your bill on the outside of a brown paper bag.

Sincerely and nervously,  Gene Newman