Skip to main content


Mea Culpa

By Patricia Wynn Brown

(Editor's Note: Pat Wynn Brown attended the Oct. 20-22 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. this past weekend and fears she may not be invited back after offering to take the Bombecks to the Columbus Airport in her tiny VW Beetle. This is her hilarious note of apology to workshop director Teri Rizvi.)

Dear M’Lady Teri,

Mea culpa. I regret to inform you I shrink-wrapped some Bombecks. It all started as an errand of mercy but resulted in a near catastrophe had the big suitcase crushing two Bombecks contained one more sock.

You see, I discovered we were departing at the same time so I offered Andy, Shari and young Michael Bombeck a lift to the Columbus airport. After all, I am a certified adopted Bombeck by their Dad and he would want me to be helpful.

But there was just one snag I failed to consider. I drive a 2001 VW Green Beetle, and we each had bags. Also, Michael is not a little boy anymore. He is a young man who takes up car space. I worried all night Saturday replaying a bags-and-people organization strategy more complex than the Normandy Landing. I alerted the Bombecks of my space issue. Andy said, “We will remain positive.”

Sunday morning we brought all of our stuff out to the parking lot, and the plan looked dismal as I also had a yoga mat, tennis shoes, a small plastic trash can, two sheepskin mitt snow scrapers (with lamb’s wool lining my deceased mother gave me during the blizzard of 1978), a blue umbrella and a GPS device in a box. We began the cramming process.

Shari eyed the trunk compilation and suggested adjustments of cases up, down, on sides. Nope. No go. Andy surmised we should just slam the trunk down and crush the stuff into submission. We have all read about Andy’s misadventures in Erma’s stories, so Shari and I put the nix on this. Michael, 16, could not believe he was part of this Keystone Cops tumult with old, dithering people.

Shari, an artist, eyed the trunk-closing-defying-suitcase and moved it an inch to center. Bingo! Closed tight as a Tupperware lid.

Inside the car cabin we slotted and pushed and centered and crammed the small bags as we doomed Shari and Michael to the back seat suited for Lilliputians with Andy’s big duffel bag on top of them. They were still breathing. Andy held a little bag with his front seat pushed up so close to the front window he could have licked it. I hoisted the small trash can over from the driver’s seat (my seat was pushed forward into the engine) to between his legs on the floor. It contained Erma merch and swag.

POWs in tiger cages had more freedom of movement than we.

Andy observed we probably did not need seatbelts as we were crammed in so tight they would have to use the jaws of life to get us out of the car at the airport.

We arrived at John Glenn International post my telling of my worn-out John Glenn flying story, and we, like survivors of a plane crash, helped pull bags and each other out of the car with groans of relief. We inflated like those rubber bouncing figures at car lots.

The workshop teaches us many things. My lesson is to take my husband’s Camry to Dayton if I am going to become an Uber driver.

With apologies,

Pat Wynn Brown
Erma Workshop Planning Committee

— Patricia Wynn Brown

Patricia Wynn Brown is a performer, speaker, producer and author of two books, Hair-A-Baloo: The Revealing Comedy and Tragedy on Top of Your Head and Momma Culpa: One Mother Comes Clean and Makes Her Maternal Confession. Pat's work currently focuses on trauma and the healing power of stories, laughter and high jinks. This includes shows and a fun yet potent "charm school" at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

Previous Post

Where Goes Ohio...

"Dad, how are you today?" I asked, my voice projecting loudly so that he could hear it from the receiver lying on his chest. "Oh, as far as I know ... just fine," he answered. The hospice nurse had a different opinion of how Dad was doing, but this was his story and he was sticking to it.
Read More
Next Post

Stand-Up Virgin

To get comedy insight from a pro, but really on a whim, I went to Wendy Liebman’s Stand Up Comedy “Boot Camp.”
Read More