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  • Writer's pictureJerry Della Femina


The teacher asked young Patrick Murphy, “What do you do at Christmas time?” Patrick addressed the class: “Well, Miss Jones, me and my twelve brothers and sisters go to midnight mass and we sing hymns; then we come home very late and we put mince pies by the back door and hang up our stockings. Then, all excited, we go to bed and wait for Father Christmas to come with all our toys.” “Very nice, Patrick,” she said. “Now, Jimmy Brown, what do you do at Christmas?”

“Well, Miss Jones, me and my sister also go to church with Mom and Dad and we sing carols and we get home ever so late. We put cookies and milk by the chimney and we hang up our stockings. We hardly sleep, waiting for Santa Claus to bring our presents.” Realizing there was a Jewish boy in the class and not wanting to leave him out of the discussion, she asked, “Now, Isaac Cohen, what do you do at Christmas?”

Isaac said, “Well, it’s the same thing every year. Dad comes home from the office, we all pile into the Rolls, then we drive to Dad’s toy factory. When we get inside, we look at all the empty shelves…and begin to sing ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’. Then we all fly off to the Bahamas.”


I came from a real tough neighborhood. Once a guy pulled a knife on me. I knew he wasn’t a professional; the knife had butter on it.

-Rodney Dangerfield


Crowed elevators smell different to midgets.



You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.

-Dean Martin



I believe all those yellow signs meant to slow down motorists that I see posted on trees where they show a heroic picture of a deer with the words “DEER CROSSING” – I believe those signs are secretly being put up at night by the deer themselves. One deer holds the sign against the tree; another deer drives in a nail with his hoof.

Sneaky bastards.


I believe the zippers in my closet are conspiring against me this winter. In the winter, if you listen near the closet door, you can hear the zippers on your coats talking to each other.

Last November I heard one zipper say, “I just got the weather report. It’s going to be below 20 degrees. You guys know the drill when it’s that cold.”

“Right,” chanted all the other zippers in the closet. “NOTHING LINES UP.”

I remember when zippers didn’t talk and knew their place. The good old days when there was one slider, so when both halves of the zipper were meshed together you had one pull-tab slider, which you pulled up and – presto! – you were warm and happy.

Then some fashion maniac decided that it would look better if two pull-tabs were on top of each other. This involves an operation where everything must be lined up perfectly.

You must hold down two pull-tabs in your left hand and try to get the little metal/plastic part on the end in your right hand to mesh perfectly.

For someone as clumsy as me it’s like Stevie Wonder trying to thread a needle during an earthquake.

And it’s not just me. Two years ago, at Michael’s restaurant in New York City, the entire staff was trying to help some poor soul whose zipper obviously had gone up on a bad angle, and he was trapped in a heavy coat.

For a while it looked as though they were going to have to call on “the jaws of life” to extract him.

Death is too good for the inventor of the double pull-tab zipper. I say we strip him naked in a Minnesota winter and watch him try to put on a double pull-tab zipper coat before he freezes.


At the top of my list for execution is the guy who invented those little dark-brown salt-and-pepper grinders that you now find in every single restaurant.

They don’t work. 99.7 percent of the time they are empty.

That’s because the restaurant staff never remembers, or knows how, to fill them.

So now I’m in a restaurant and my food arrives at the table. There is no salt at the table.


Don’t ask!

It’s some sort of a trend and even the worst greasy spoon restaurants in a crappy food town like Utica, New York, think it’s the sign of a great restaurant not to have a lousy saltshaker on the table.

Anyway, when my food arrives, the first thing I ask the person who sets it down in front of me is, “May I have some salt?” Now, I know I’m sort of a weird-looking guy and usually they look at me as if I’m with Immigration, so they nod with fear in their eyes and never come back to my table again. Many of them go into hiding and escape to Canada, where the political leaders are not such idiots about immigration.

As my food is getting cold I have to find another server. That takes some time. They finally come back with one of those cockamamie little dark-brown, fake wood salt-and-pepper grinders.

Of course it’s empty. Now my food is getting colder while the entire restaurant staff goes on a hunt for a grinder that has a single grain of salt.

Then by the grace of God somebody brings the only saltshaker in the restaurant. It’s a good old-fashioned saltshaker. But that doesn’t work either because at the beginning of the night the staff filled the lone saltshaker in the restaurant up to the tippity top. It now ceases to be a saltshaker because the salt is caked against the top and you can’t shake it.

When you do as I do and unscrew the top, the salt explodes all over the table and my food. That’s when I start chanting in a loud voice:

“Death to the inventor of the useless salt grinder.”

“Death to the inventor of the useless salt grinder.”

“Death to the inventor of the useless salt grinder.”

You would be surprised how fast the service improves after that.



There’s a reason all of us spend so much time walking the streets desperately holding on to our cell phones.

They’re our lifeline. There are so many lonely people out there.

A cell phone tells you that your spouse, your children, everyone you love is right there in the palm of your hand. Safe.

Cell phones have turned our streets into a great big party line.

Walk a block and you can listen in on the lives of everyone around you.

I was standing on 27th Street and Broadway waiting for a light when a nicely dressed middle-aged woman standing next to me suddenly blurted out, “Don’t you dare tell me that I drink too much. The reason I drink too much is because I hate you.”

I jumped back, making sure she didn’t have a sharp object in her hand, and all she had was her cellphone. As it turned out, the sharpest object she had in her possession was her tongue.

By the time we reached corner of 28th and Broadway (I must admit I was walking step-by-step behind the angry woman, eavesdropping), she had calmed down.

“I’m sorry I lost my temper,” she said. “I had a horrible night.” Then she started talking about the merits and her fears of Ambien and how a few years ago she had an Ambien night and woke up nude in her kitchen next to an empty bottle that once held red wine and two empty bags that once held pork rinds. At that point I lost my appetite and walked away when I decided the lady should drop the guy to whom she was talking, cut down on her drinking and rush out and adopt or buy a puppy and that would change her miserable life.

The one good thing that’s come out of the pandemic is that more people are adopting dogs.

You can tell the people on the street who have adopted dogs: They’re the ones who are smiling.

Go out and get yourself a dog today. I promise you you’ll be happier.

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