Comical true life, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#487 The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck

The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by Erma BombeckThe Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck

Don’t we all know it…

This is the first book I have read of Erma’s, sadly Erma is no longer with us, but if she were, she would be the grandmother you wanted to go see all of the time not because she had just baked delicious cookies, but because she’s freaking hilarious. If you’re wondering, as a younger person, what Erma wrote think of a writer like David Sedaris or Celia Rivenbark, although Erma isn’t quite as edgy as either of those two. She was from a different age, a more polite age.

This book is all about how Erma moved to the suburbs and lived in a subdivision. I have never lived in a subdivision so I can’t relate to some of Erma’s musings, but most of it is quite funny. Erma talks about how people first explored the suburbs. She says there was nothing there. People packed up their stations wagons and went like wagon trains out of the city.

She talks about getting a house that looks exactly like everyone else’s house. She talks about children randomly showing up and staying that aren’t hers.

Probably one of the funniest bits in the book is about washer repair men. All of the women in the neighborhood whisper and rumor that there is one around, but very few have actually seen one in the flesh. They all suggest to Erma that she should have locked the washer repair man in the house when he actually showed up so he couldn’t get away.

She also writes this bit about her husband taking her place for a while. He seems to come up short as men are often depicted in the era, not really knowing how to iron their own shirts and such.

What I liked

Erma is/was quite funny. She wrote about life, but made it sound hilarious. No one else thinks the washer breaking is hilarious, but Erma makes it sound hilarious. Most of the time the washer breaking is a bad sign and everybody gets ticked off, especially the woman of the house. Nobody wants to haul clothes to the laundromat and sit there reading flu and cigarette-smoke tainted magazines, but you know, maybe the laundromats are nicer where you live.

Erma wrote about life and what happened in it. Things broke. Kids wandered in the house. If you have kids and you live near other kids, there will be random kids in your house, unless you just have weird, anti-social children. This is probably most prevalent in a place like an apartment complex, but I can see how living in a subdivision would be host to children randomly showing up.

What I didn’t like

Erma is funny, don’t get me wrong, but she’s no David Sedaris or Celia Rivenbark. I think this is probably more because Erma wrote for a previous generation. Erma wrote about getting the washer majorly repaired for seventy-four dollars. AS IF. People don’t drive stations wagons around anymore. Most mothers don’t stay home. Things aren’t as cheap as they used to be. It’s not kosher to make men look like idiots when it comes to managing the house.

Essentially, Erma’s humor just isn’t as funny because it’s dated, but thirty years ago, Erma was probably knee-slapping, eye-watering hilarious.


This book has great humor and a humorous look at life, if a bit dated.

erma bombeck, funny memoir, funny true life, humor, life in the suburbs, living in a subdivision, subdivision, the grass is always greener over the septic tank, The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck
Bombeck-Erma, Comical true life, Memoir, Non-Fiction, social commentary


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