My ex-husband's grandmother was a terrible cook. Every year she would invite the entire clan over to her house for a holiday dinner and every year we would find some excuse not to go. I had never had the opportunity to try out Gammy's food, but I had heard the stories of how truly awful her cooking was. One year, however, someone took pity on her and it was agreed to have the holiday dinner over at Gammy's house. So off we went, all ten of us, most of which made sure to have a hearty sandwich beforehand.
The first sign that things were not going well was the burning smell we encountered at the doorway. My mother-in-law hurried into the kitchen to have a look while the rest of us milled around the living room, trying to fill up on peanuts. There was a lot of clanking going on in there. We exchanged nervous looks while attempting small talk. The two women were doing some muttering along with the clanking, so we sent a child in to see what was happening. "There's a lot of steam and some lettuce in the sink," she reported. This confused some of us and made the rest hunt around the living room in search of a candy dish. After more muttering and clanking, Gammy made an appearance and ushered us into the dining room, where we were assigned our seats. The kids had another table in the other room, the lucky dogs.
I was still optomistic, despite evidence to the contrary. The food was brought in and it looked edible enough to me. Spaghetti and meatballs. There was a slight scorched smell clinging to the food, but it didn't appear too bad. I took a healthy serving and then noticed that everyone else at the table had taken much smaller portions. I took a bite of meatball and it was then I realized what everyone else at the table, excepting Gammy, already knew. We were in big trouble. The meatball tasted like burnt gym socks. Or was it burnt garden mulch? I moved the piece of meatball around in my mouth and tried to figure out what to do with it. It was no use; there was no place to put it. With great difficulty, I swallowed the bite and tried some spaghetti. Not too bad. But what to do with my three meatballs?
I eyed the plate next to me. It belonged to Richard, my brother-in-law. I waited until he wasn't looking, then slipped my meatball onto his plate. When he noticed he had an extra meatball, he started to say something, then glared at his brother. Tom looked back innocently, then started protesting as Richard placed the offending meatball onto his plate. Hmm, I thought. This could work. I waited until Gammy leaned over to see something under the table, then I slipped another meatball onto Richard's plate. "Hey," said Tom, who caught me. Then he smiled and sneakily moved one of his meatballs onto Kathy's plate. She started to choke, then remembered Gammy, who was sitting to her right. I leaned over to say something to Richard, then placed my last meatball onto my mother-in-law's plate. She gave me the evil eye, then asked Gammy if there was more bread in the kitchen.
With Gammy gone, it was a meatball free-for-all. There was a lot of muffled shrieking, giggling, and shushing to accompany all the meatball-slinging, and it kind of got ugly when Rich tried to put one down Tom's shirt, but then Gammy came back in the room and we got real quiet. We all moved the food around on our plates some, but there was no disguising the fact that we were just too full to finish our dinners. And no dessert, please, Gammy. We just couldn't eat another bite.
I'll bet you have some meatball stories in your family lore, just waiting for a chance to be published in one of these humor magazines. Keep in mind, however, that most markets accept humorous articles if they fit their other guidelines.
The Magazine of Brutiful Art
9405 Ulysses Court
Burke, VA 22015
Contact: Dominick J. Salemi. publisher/editor
This quarterly magazine is 100% freelance written and covers "trash, carnival culture, the ridiculous and the sublime." Circulation is 5,000. Nonfiction needs include book excerpts, essays, general interest, humor, opinion, travle, film and music. There are no length limits and pay can be up to ten cents a word. Also accepts humorous fiction, same pay.
Tip: "A healthy knowledge of the great works of antiquity and an equally healthy contempt for most of what passes today as culture."
New York, NY 10019
Contact: Editorial Department
This monthly magazine is always looking for new ways to poke fun at people, current events and public figures. It is 100% freelance written. Editors ask that writers submit an outline of nonfiction piece, including examples of action and visual content. Sketches are desired. Also accepts "one-page gags," which are two to eight panel cartoon continuities. They are interested in satire and parody if presented in new and different ways. Pays $400 a page.
Tip: "Remember to think visually....We like outrageous, silly and/or satirical humor."
Miniature Donkey Talk (I am not making this up)
1338 Hughes Shop Road
Westminster, MD 21158
Contact: Bonnie Gross, editor
Okay, I doubt you have a funny article featuring miniature donkeys mulling around in your head, but if you did, here's the market for you. Believe it or not, they are looking for nonfiction humorous articles about miniature donkeys, or regular donkeys, or even horses. The audience is owners, breeders and donkey lovers the world over. Length is 700-7,000 words and payment is $25-150. Oh, and they want book excerpts, and personal experience articles, too, as long as the topic is somehow donkey-oriented.