The Misadventures of Mrs. Fishbaum

"Isn’t that your ex-husband?" Mrs. Fishbaum asked Louise in a scandalized stage whisper, apparently referring to the balding, bespectacled Jew who was awkwardly exiting a hot pink VW "New Beetle" outside the window.

Louise rolled her eyes. “Wait til you meet his girlfriend. She’s so young, she thinks ‘farfegnugen’ is German for ‘imported Fig Newton.’ “

The blame game

“I didn’t say it was your fault!” Mrs. Fishbaum yelled in the general direction of her indignant husband, “I said: I blame you!”

The mane issue

The first thing most people noticed about Mrs. Fishbaum was her hair. An unnerving combination of uneven finger waves and a mass of Bozo-esque frizz, it looked as though it must surely have been the result of a terrible accident involving a crimping iron, an entire bottle of home perm solution, a fork, and a light socket. There was even some speculation among the Biddies as to whether or not there were small animals nesting in her ‘do. And yet, from a distance, the effect was strikingly regal (not to mention astonishingly easy to keep track of in a crowd).

The Biddies Who Brunch?

The Biddies Who Brunch?

“The last thing I want to do is upset you,” Mrs. Fishbaum told Gloria, “but it’s still on my list.”

Not so handy

Mrs. Fishbaum did not believe in hand towels. She believed her hands deserved just as much fabric as any other body part. As to the decorative ghost she insisted on hanging on the sink-side towel ring in the guest bathroom where a hand towel would reside in any rational household, Mr. Fishbaum was convinced that his wife hung it there for the sole purpose of yelling at her friends for “wiping [their] grimy paws” on it.

The great cat debate of 2011

Mrs. Fishbaum knew it was foolish to get into an argument about felines with Louise, the Biddies’ resident crazy cat lady. But she had just watched “African Cats,” and like all nature documentaries, it had given her a giddy sense of supreme expertise on all matters zoological.

Also, she was pretty damn sure that when a cat leaves a dead bird on your pillow, it isn’t so much a “gift” as it is a less-than-subtle commentary on the freshness of the food you’ve been serving up. 

Gardening made easy

When her husband inquired as to what she was doing, Mrs. Fishbaum answered with what little remaining breath she possessed: “Rain dance.”

When Mr. Fishbaum further inquired as to *why* she was doing the rain dance, she answered, with an edge of impatience in her voice, “Because! (gasp) I’m too lazy to (gasp) water the garden (gasp), that’s why!” 

If you asked Mr. Fishbaum (as nobody had ever bothered to do), he would tell you that Mrs. Fishbam lived her life by this simple motto: If at first you don’t succeed, cry, cry like Miss America being tiara-nated until someone else does it for you.


Sinking into the fragrant, slippery suds, Mrs. Fishbaum couldn’t help striking a melodramatic pose and thinking, “Calgon, take me away!”

But then she immediately amended it to, “Actually, Calgon you can leave me right here. Just give me a lot of money.”