This column comes from the very end of Erma’s career. Erma said that earlier in her career she tended to focus on one-liners in her column because she was afraid that if she told a story no one would stick around for the end. This column is a nice blend of one-liners and story.

Martha Stewart by Erma Bombeck

My mom was visiting recently, and we sat stunned as we watched TV’s Martha Stewart getting ready for Christmas. In 20 minutes she made an elaborate gingerbread house that looked better than the one I am living in. She followed this with baking 300 cookies the size of whoopee cushions, which she decorated and hung from the Christmas tree.

Two grown women watching a homemaking god prepare for a holiday that is three months away is what is so incredible about the Martha Stewart phenomenon.

I find myself unable to turn off her program.

What does this mean? Are there other women out there who are returning to putting creativity back into their homemaking, to join those who never left?

That’s what those of us who had Martha Stewarts for neighbors tried to get away from. You all remember her. She was the woman who hand-painted her garbage cans with sunflowers while we didn’t attempt anything that didn’t have connect-the-dots. She maintained an elaborate garden, knew how to change fuses and made elaborate Halloween costumes for her children while the rest of us cut holes in garbage bags and shoved the kids out the door.

She entertained with theme parties (Low-Fat Fertility Foods Nite). She baked every day and ate nothing.

It’s been 20 years since I’ve thought about a windowsill garden, but the other night as I watched Martha stake her tomatoes with rings cut from her pantyhouse, I said, “I can do that.”

I have started going to flea markets looking for mismatched bargain dishes to bring interest to my table. I think I bought back most of the dishes I got rid of in 1958, but I’m not sure.

My husband can’t figure out what has happened to me. The other night I watched Martha plan a lobster bake by the seashore. He watched with me as she poured half a cup of gin into the boiling water before she dropped in the lobsters.

“Why doesn’t she just drink the gin and forget dinner?” he said.

“Shhh.”

Martha said, “The gin relaxes the lobster. If you were going to be dropped into boiling water and steamed, wouldn’t you want a drink first?”

When she was ready to take it all to the seashore she had little brushes handmade from rosemary and dill, butter with chili and limes in it, and fresh corn.

My husband said dryly, “But will it play in a carport?”

Martha is not married.

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