This week, I received the much anticipated announcement that, once again, I was “not selected” as the winner of the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. I don’t feel too badly because every year that I lose (and it has been many, many years) it is to some of the finest writers and humorists I have the pleasure of reading.
Also, I am secretly happy when the announcement is made, and my essay is free to publish elsewhere. It makes for an easy week as a newspaper columnist.
So, without further ado, I submit to you, “Got Milk?”
Much to the chagrin of my five children, I have discovered that I’m a free spirit. Some might say I’m “hippie-ish,” and I don’t mean the measurement across my saddlebags. I fancy myself a bit Joan Baez, with a touch of Janis Joplin, and a measure of my Aunt Nona who spent the 70s wearing Patchouli and Birkenstocks, with her homemade macramé vest.
As my fiftieth birthday drew near, I had to tell my kids that even though an “80s prom-theme, murder mystery dinner” sounded like a lot of fun, I preferred to celebrate alone.
Booking a cabin secluded in the woods, I dreamed of communing with nature, performing spiritual rituals, and at my exact time of birth (9:36 PM), having a small ceremony to signify the transition into this new season of life.
I texted my younger sister, “Do you, by chance, have an ounce of breast milk to spare?”
Even in the absence of an emoji, I could see the eye roll in her reply, “May I ask why you need it?”
“I created a ritual to perform on my birthday. I plan to drink it.”
“Wow! I expected you to say something mildly ‘rational’ like that you are making candles, or lotion, or coffee creamer.”
My kids caught wind of my unusual request.
“Are you really going to drink breast milk? That’s kind of weird, even for you.”
Regardless of my family’s unsolicited opinions, I forged ahead. It was my only time to turn fifty. Five decades. Half a century. One-twentieth of a millennium. This deserved ceremony.
I intended to sink into the hot tub, head under water, to mimic being in the womb. At exactly 9:36 P.M., I would burst forth into the cold night air, wrap myself in a heated blanket, and drink the breast milk while communing with my mother who never made it to the age of fifty.
Unfortunately, in typical “old-lady” fashion, I started my birthday with a hard fall down a set of icy steps. Dazed and disappointed, I spent the day on the couch, surrounded with ice packs.
At 9:34, I remembered the breast milk. I hobbled to the kitchen and nuked the milk with thirty seconds to spare. Dashing outside as quickly as an old woman with a swollen derriere can dash, I stood in the crisp night air, raised the milk toward the stars, and toasted my mother.
I felt closer to her than I had since her untimely death. I could feel her communicating with me. As I drank the breast milk of her daughter, I listened closely to the message she had on this most auspicious occasion: “This is kind of weird, even for you. Next time, choose the 80s prom theme murder mystery dinner.”
Syndicated columnist Ginger Claremohr is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Follow her on Facebook, find her on the web:, or contact