Tuesday, April 27, 2021



One of my friends called me last night, excited because she'd heard that the annual spring carnival was returning to the JFK Coliseum's lot in Manchester this week, and she was eager to take her grandson to it and relive, through him, the fun times she'd had there when she was young.

Her call immediately brought back many fond (and several crazy) memories of my teenage years and my annual spring ritual of attending that carnival. 

All through high school, my friend Janet and I looked forward to the carnival every year, and we always chose to go on a Friday night.  We would walk from my house all the way to the JFK, which took about 45 minutes, just to spend our hard-earned babysitting money on rides, junk food and games that were nearly impossible to win.  If we didn’t come home penniless and nauseated, we didn’t consider the evening a success.

My favorite carnival treat was a caramel apple, and my favorite ride was the Octopus, which was a ride with eight “arms” that went up and down, with seats that spun around on the end of each arm. 

One night, I ate one too many caramel apples before climbing onto the Octopus. 
Unfortunately, Janet and I were the only ones on it, so the bored-looking attendant decided to be generous and give us an extra-long ride. The more the ride went up and down, the more the caramel apples in my stomach also went up and down. They felt like miniature cannonballs rolling around inside.

“Let me off!”  I screamed at the attendant every time my twirling car swooped past him.  Apparently he interpreted my screaming as, “Wheeee! I’m having fun!” rather than, “Eeeyuuu! I’m about to throw up!” because he let the ride go on for at least another 10 revolutions.

I never ate another caramel apple again.

As Janet and I stood near the Octopus afterwards, our faces green and the scenery still spinning, two really cute guys walked by us.  One of them had blond hair and was wearing a light-tan suede jacket. The other was dark-haired and clad mostly in denim.

“Wow, look at those two cool guys!” Janet said, embarrassingly loud enough for the guys to hear her.  They turned around, stared at us for a second, smiled, and then walked over. 

“Want to ride on the Octopus?” the blond guy asked. “Our treat.”

At that point, I would have preferred to have been dropped naked from a helicopter hovering over a field of thorn bushes, but I managed to smile and say, “Sure!”

Masochists that we were, Janet and I boarded the ride with them. I sat with the blond guy, and all I can say is he was lucky the ride didn’t go even one more revolution, because his tan suede jacket would have been covered with caramel apples.

Janet and I also always enjoyed playing the games at the carnival.  We managed to win a few small prizes, my most exciting being an 8”x10” mirror with a picture of the Bee Gees etched into it.  One year, however, a new game appeared, and the prizes were huge: TV sets, radios, stereos, fancy cameras.  We immediately were interested.

“The game starts at 25 cents, the carnival guy told us. “All you have to do is toss a ring around one of these pegs. On the back of each peg is a number.  That’s what makes tossing your ring such a challenge.  You can’t tell what number you’re aiming for.  When your numbers total up to 25 points or more, you win your choice of prizes.  But…if one of your rings lands on a peg with a black star on the back, you lose all of your points.”

To give us an example, he let Janet toss a ring.  It easily circled one of the pegs.  The guy, who was standing behind the pegs, stooped to read the back, then excitedly said, “24! If you were really playing, you’d need only one more point to win your choice of any prize here!”

Janet and I were hooked.  Imagine, I naively thought as I eagerly dug into my change purse, coming home with my own TV!  No longer would I have to beg my parents to let me watch my favorite shows, like "Shindig" and "Gidget." No longer would I have to suffer through one more evening of  “Lawrence Welk.”

We handed our quarters to the guy and threw our rings.  Mine landed on 19 and Janet’s on 20.  “Now, if you want to continue, it’s 50 cents,” the guy told us.  Janet and I were confident our next shots easily would add up to the much-desired 25 points or more, so we turned over our money.

Janet’s ring landed on a 2, and mine on a 1.  “Now it goes up to $1,” the guy informed us.  Janet and I hesitated.  A dollar was a lot of money back then. Still, that TV set sure was a beauty.  We dug out our dollars.

To make a long, painful story short, we both ended up hitting the dreaded black star just before our totals reached 25. 

I narrowed my eyes at the guy. “I want to actually see that black star!” I demanded. “In fact, I want to see the backs of all of the pegs! How do we know you were telling us the truth when you told us what was on them?”

He shook his head. “No unauthorized personnel allowed back here. You just run along now, OK?” 

“I want my TV!” I protested. “You’re a cheat!”

When passersby began to turn and stare, he reached under the counter and pulled out a couple teddy bears and handed one to each of us. “Here,” he said in a hushed voice. “Take these and scram!” 

Only because he was big and mean-looking with a lot of tattoos did we leave. But he’d ruined our night. We didn’t have any money left to spend on our favorite treats or any more rides.

We never saw that peg game at the carnival again.  Janet and I liked to think it was because some customer who was a professional wrestler with an anger-management problem played it and got really ticked off at the guy…then showed him exactly what he could do with his pegs.

But even when we had no money at all, it still was fun to walk around the carnival grounds and mingle, or watch other people trying to win big prizes...and failing just as badly as we had.

I really do miss those spring-carnival days of my youth – the ice cream and fudge, the Octopus and the Ferris wheel, the games and the cute guys.

But most of all, I still miss that deluxe black-and-white portable TV, which I’m positive I really did win.

                                                                #  #  #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.

Monday, April 19, 2021



I hate to admit it, but I suffer from iatrophobia – an irrational fear of doctors.

When people ask me why, my standard reply is, “Name me one other person who can give you worse news than a doctor can.” 

The response usually is a blank stare.

(Actually, I think a court judge might deliver worse news, but I don't plan to ever have to face one).

With every visit to a doctor, I’ve walked into the examining room thinking, “This is it…the beginning of the end. I just know I’m going to be told I have something incurable.” 

It didn’t matter why I was going for the visit. If I had an infected hangnail, I’d think my finger was going to have to be amputated…all the way up to my armpit.

I certainly didn’t take after my mother, who was my polar opposite when it came to doctors. To her, every ailment was caused by gas, and could be cured with either a good burp or a fart. She would shrug off the most intense pain and say, “Oh, all I need is a few burps and I’ll be fine,” while I would be thinking, “Emergency appendectomy followed by deadly peritonitis!”

I’ll never forget when I was about 21 and began to have discomfort and tightness in my chest. Fearing the worst, I made an appointment with my family doctor. As I drove to his office, I passed by Epsom Monument Company and I remember thinking I probably should stop and pick out a headstone because I was certain I was going to be diagnosed with some life-threatening heart ailment. I’d even canceled plans to attend my friend’s upcoming barbecue the next weekend because I was positive I’d be undergoing open-heart surgery at that time.

I’m sure I must have sounded like some hysterical drama-queen when I described my symptoms to my doctor. He sat patiently listening to my concerns and then calmly asked me several questions. He listened to my heart, took an EKG and performed a thorough physical exam, including blood work.

As I sat facing him at his desk, waiting for the results, I actually thought I might pass out, I was so nervous. “So, Doc,” I finally gathered the courage to ask, “What’s the diagnosis?”

He leaned forward, his expression serious, and said, “Tell me, do you feel the tightness in your chest when you’re in bed at night?”

I had to think about it for a second. “No, I guess not.”

“I noticed some marks on your upper body when I was examining you,” he said.

I felt my heartbeat quicken as I wondered what kind of marks he’d found. Maybe evidence of blood clots or poor circulation from my heart not beating right?

Marks?” I barely was able to squeak at that point.

He nodded. “And after checking all of your test results, my diagnosis is…”

I held my breath as I mentally measured myself for a coffin.

“Your bra is too tight.”

My eyes grew wide and my mouth fell open. “What?”

“You need a bigger bra. The tightness in your chest and the pain are being caused by your bra. There are marks on your body showing where it’s digging into you. I’ll bet you wear the underwire styles.”

Actually, I did wear the underwire bras, which felt like torture devices, but I wanted sturdy support.

“The reason why you don’t have the pain when you’re in bed is because I assume you don’t wear your bra then,” he said. “So the only prescription I’m going to give you today is to go shopping for a larger size!” At that point, he finally smiled at me, clearly amused.

That ranked right up there with one of the most embarrassing moments of my life (and I’ve had plenty of them).

Flash forward to three weeks ago when I noticed a cluster of bumps in the shape of a circle on the bridge of my nose. I immediately rushed to the computer to look up what they might be.

Well, anyone who’s ever looked up an ailment on the Internet knows it’s never a wise thing to do because you’ll end up thinking you have about five hours to live. By the time I was through researching my nose bumps, I was all but convinced I was going to end up noseless.  I also noticed there was this one photo of a woman who had a lesion on her nose that was said to be psoriasis. But that very same photo of the woman also turned up for other skin conditions like keratosis, eczema and skin cancer. Obviously, she had an all-purpose lesion. So I ended up even more confused than when I’d begun.

Three weeks passed and my bumps didn’t go away, so this past Friday, I finally gathered the courage to call a dermatologist. The last time I’d called one, they’d said they could squeeze me in on September 1st…and I was calling in June. So I figured by the time I actually would be able to see a dermatologist this time, the bumps either would be gone…or my nose would.

But to my surprise, I was told I could come in on Monday.  I also was told I could have an entire skin-check done at that time, not just my nose, as part of my health screening.

So from Friday until Monday, which is today, I was a total, over-the-top nervous wreck, imagining every terrible diagnosis on earth, including the bubonic plague. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t even concentrate on my standard Saturday-night Hallmark romance movie. Every time the hunky guy stared into the woman’s eyes and they showed a close-up, I found myself staring at her nose to see if she had any bumps on hers.

And my friends’ suggestions that my problem might be caused from something as simple as an irritation from wearing a face mask, or a reaction to the new glycolic-acid anti-wrinkle face cream I’d recently been trying, didn’t console me either. Old “Doom and Gloom Breslin” had returned in her typical full-panic mode.

Yesterday, which was Sunday, I spent all day preparing for today’s doctor’s visit.  I did things I haven’t done since the pandemic began.  I manicured my nails. I colored and curled my hair. I shaved in places that hadn’t seen a razor in months. I gathered all of my medical history together, including photos of past rashes and skin problems. I went to bed early so I would be able to get up early and look refreshed for my appointment.

Well, when I awoke this morning, after sleeping for a grand total of probably an hour, I frightened myself when I looked in the mirror. And just thinking about my doctor’s visit caused me to do deep-breathing exercises to ward off an impending anxiety attack.

Just as I was trying to choke down some breakfast, the phone rang. It was the doctor’s office, telling me my appointment would have to be rescheduled until next Monday because the doctor wasn’t going to be in today.

Here we go again…

#   #   #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.

Monday, April 12, 2021



I’m not superstitious or anything like that – at least I try not to be. I mean, I do find myself occasionally tossing salt over my shoulder when I spill some, and I wouldn’t ever break a mirror to test the “seven years of bad luck” theory, but something that happened recently has made me do some serious thinking about everything from superstitions to the spiritual world. And after all of my serious thinking, what I’ve come up with is…I think I still need to do some more serious thinking.

It all began back in 2007 when my husband and I purchased a parcel of land near Bear Brook State Park. Originally it was a 23-acre parcel of forestland, but we were allowed to buy 7.6 acres of it, part of which was listed as protected wetland. The rest of the parcel was sold to a big-time contractor.

Our parcel was located on a quiet cul-de-sac and already had a rough driveway cut through the forest, and a nice area cleared for the house. There was nothing left for us to do but get the permits and start building!

As it turned out, the driveway had not been approved by the town. When we attempted to get a proper permit for it, the town officials said they couldn’t allow a driveway in that location because that was where the town’s plow-drivers piled up all of the snow in the neighborhood, and the land had a 30-foot setback for them to use. We were told our only option was to build on the next road over, a private road on the far side of our property – away from all signs of human life. Essentially, were being banished to the boonies.

So then we were faced with having to clear out the Forest Primeval, which we hadn’t originally planned on or budgeted for. Even worse, after we had the perk tests done on the soil, the experts determined that the best – and only – place for the house to be constructed was 420 feet from the road! 

"We're not building a driveway," my husband had muttered at the time, "we're building a (insert any expletive here) dragstrip!"

After getting a few estimates for the work, we finally hired a company out of Concord. Two weeks into the job, they increased the original estimate by a "mere" $100,000. When we refused, they quit.

The second guy we hired managed to clear most of the land and cut a rough driveway through the “outback” before he fell off his backhoe and severely injured his back. So he also quit.

The third guy was not just an excavator like the others, he also was a building contractor. So we figured we’d hire him to build the house, seeing he’d be there already anyway. Plus that, he’d come highly recommended by everyone in town – including the building inspector, a planning-board member and a zoning-board member. He asked for $55,000 down, and we readily gave it to him 

He finished clearing the land and it looked great. Then he started building the house. He was moving at such a rapid pace, he said we’d be able to move in within three months. He asked for another $55,000.  Again, we obliged. 

A year later, we still had only a quarter of the house finished, and the contractor began to show up less and less often, sometimes only one day a week. He finally confessed to us that he’d spent all of our money on something else and couldn’t afford the materials to finish the house. He said if we could be patient and wait until he got a few more construction jobs and earned some more money, then he’d be "good to go" again 

We waited three more months and all he managed to do was put up one room of sheetrock - using small scraps left over from another job. That was when we fired him. 

The fourth contractor was very gung-ho and getting things done at a rapid clip…until he suffered a stroke and died a couple weeks later.

The fifth contractor finally succeeded in building our house. By then, it was four weeks short of the year 2010. My husband died in 2012.

During the eleven years I’ve lived in the house, there have been so many disasters associated with it (a sinking foundation, super-high levels of arsenic in the well, all of the flooring being recalled due to toxins in it, etc.!), people constantly joke with me that we probably built it on an ancient burial ground, like in the movie “Poltergeist.” 

I've always just laughed it off, but strictly out of curiosity, not long ago I finally decided to do some research on the land.

Sure enough, there once was a Native American settlement in this area…a few hundred years ago. So I guess the odds are pretty good that there just might be a burial ground located somewhere around here, too.

Surprisingly, the big-time contractor never did a thing with his piece of the land that borders mine. It’s remained a thick forest all these years, and keeps getting thicker. So I've explored the whole area many times and even found some old trails through it that connect to the trails on my land. I soon got into the habit of walking on them every morning and enjoying the beauty of all of the unspoiled nature surrounding my house...even though it meant half of my walk was spent trespassing.

Well, a few weeks ago, there was a huge windstorm here. Trees fell and power was lost. Bright and early the next morning I went out on the trails, expecting to find tons of limbs strewn across them, but everything looked pretty clear except for an occasional small branch here or there. Suddenly, up ahead, at the very edge of my land, I noticed two trees, one on the right side of the trail and the other on the left, that had snapped during the storm. Both had fallen toward the middle of the trail, but had hit together at the top and stopped each other there, forming an X that made an arch directly over the trail. It actually reminded me of the shape of a teepee.

The sight stopped me dead in my tracks. I mean, I had to pass under that X if I wanted to continue on my walk, but for some reason, it gave me an eerie feeling. I finally got brave, however, and decided to examine the area more closely. For one thing, I suspected someone might have cut down the trees and purposely placed them in that position (although I couldn’t imagine anyone being foolish enough to go out in the middle of a 50-mph windstorm to do it). But when I checked the two trees, I discovered they indeed had been snapped off by the wind, and not cleanly because they still were attached to the trunks by thick shreds of bark. 

What puzzled me was how the trees had managed to fall toward each other from opposite directions. Maybe the wind had zigzagged from side to side through the forest during the storm?  


Anyway, I thought it was an interesting occurrence, a rare phenomenon, so I snapped some photos of the X and posted them on Facebook. Everyone immediately said it was a sign of good luck, a blessing, even a divine message from above. I, however, was thinking it might be more of a warning, especially when you consider all of the bad luck I’ve had to suffer through with my own land and house. It gave me a distinct, “Keep out! And this means you!” feeling.

Well, just the other day when I took my morning walk, I noticed something new.  A portion of the woods just past the two X trees, had been cleared of some small trees, and there were red markers in the ground outlining an area that looked large enough to fit a house.

"Don't tell me!" I said out loud. "The big-time contractor finally is going to build something on his land?"

Immediately, I had visions of the builders shouting for help while dangling by their fingernails from the roof, flying head-first off their bulldozers or being swallowed up by a giant sinkhole. My gut feeling was telling me that something bad was going to happen to anyone who tried to build on that piece of land. 

Were the fallen X trees merely a coincidence – a coincidence with perfect timing after all these years?  Perhaps. Or could they be sending a “get out now, while you can, or else!” message to the contractor?

I don’t know. But a part of me feels compelled to give the builders a “heads up” when I see them, just so they’ll be extra careful. Yet if I do, I’m afraid they’ll immediately label me the “crazy lady next door.” 

So maybe I should just remain silent?

I don’t know…I honestly don’t.

But whatever happens, I have the feeling I might end up with an interesting plot for my next novel…

#   #   #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.









Monday, April 5, 2021



I’ve always enjoyed reading people’s license plates and admiring their creativity. My optometrist, for example, had EYEDOC on his plate, and I saw another one that expressed every mother’s advice to young kids before going for a ride: PB4WEGO.

Years ago, my husband and I both decided to take the plunge and get vanity (initial) plates for our cars. Only six letters were allowed back then, but we didn’t mind. I wanted my plate to read, SMILE, because I was working as a photographer at the time and was saying, “Smile!” about hundred times a week. I also was writing humor, so it applied to that also. My husband wanted WIMPY (as in Popeye’s buddy) for his plate because of his and Wimpy’s love of hamburgers. So we actually needed only five letters per plate.

Our cars each were registered in both of our names, so I headed to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get the plates for both cars. 

“Sorry, SMILE is already taken,” the clerk informed me.

When she saw my look of disappointment, she added, “But USMILE is available.” I figured that USMILE was better than no smile at all, so I took it. I then asked about WIMPY for my husband.  

“Sorry,” she said once again, “but that one’s been taken, too.”

She checked a few things on the computer and then suggested WIMPY with a number one after it. I debated for a moment, not really certain what to do.  Cell phones were unheard of back then, and I wasn’t about to get out of line to go call my husband. So I finally agreed to WIMPY1.

Let’s just say that my husband was less than pleased that night when I handed his temporary plate to him.

“WIMPY1?” he whined. “If I can’t be the original WIMPY, I don’t want to be WIMPY at all!”

“Do you know how silly you sound?” I couldn’t help but laugh. “Well, like it or not, you’re stuck with WIMPY1 now. I wasn’t crazy about getting USMILE either, you know!”

He gave me a look that clearly told me I shouldn’t have bothered to get the plates at all. Perhaps. But still, I figured that once we had them for a while, we’d end up loving them.

As usual, I’d figured wrong.

My husband soon discovered that not everyone knew who Wimpy, the Popeye character, was. They did, however, know the definition of the word “wimp” and assumed that my husband was calling himself “Wimpy One” because he was a big sissy. Needless to say, he wasn’t amused.

And I discovered that most people were reading my plate as “U.S. MILE” rather than “U SMILE.” Too frequently, people were asking me if my plate meant that I liked to jog or run marathons. One look at me should have told them that the only “run” in my vocabulary was the kind I got in my pantyhose.

Even worse, I was parked in front of the post office one day and a mail carrier came by and said, “I like your plate! U.S. MAIL!”

That probably explains why my mail kept getting delivered to my neighbors’ mailboxes back then.

As soon as it was time to renew his plate, my husband gave a swift, decent burial to WIMPY1 and got a regular old boring license plate. I, however, decided to stick with USMILE. A few people actually had read it correctly and said they liked it, and I’d even had some drivers pass me on the highway, point at my plate and flash big, toothy smiles at me.

Still, the “U.S. MILE” comments continued. And that’s why one afternoon my husband came home from work to find me, green permanent marking-pen in hand, drawing a hyphen after the “U” on my license plate.

“What are you doing?!” he practically gasped.

“I’m turning my plate into U-SMILE,” I said, coloring the hyphen even darker.

“You can’t do that!” he said. “That’s illegal!”

I shrugged. “It’s only a teeny dash. No one will even know the difference.”

Within seconds, he, party-pooper that he was, used some paint thinner and a rag to transform my plate back to USMILE.

Years passed and I kept the plate, mainly out of habit. It was easy to remember, and whenever my car was parked amongst a sea of other cars, I could find it in a flash because the plate stood out.

Then one day I was backed up in traffic and happened to read a vanity plate on the car in front of me. Realization suddenly struck me…it had seven letters!

“How long have the New Hampshire license plates been up to seven letters?” I asked my husband.

“Quite a while, why?”

“Why didn’t you tell me?! I finally can get a hyphen!”

The next month, which just happened to be the month I had to register my car, I impatiently stood in line at the DMV.

“I want a hyphen added to my vanity plate,” I blurted out when I finally reached the clerk.

“Where would you like the hyphen?” she asked.

After I told her, she said, “Let me check to see if U-SMILE is available.”

 I held my breath. 

I’m pleased to say I was able to get U-SMILE for my plate, and I haven’t been asked about running marathons since.

But the other day in a supermarket parking lot, as I was putting groceries into my car, two teenagers walked by and one said to the other, “Cool plate!       U-SLIME!”

I can’t win.

 #   #   #


Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.