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Literature / All I Know About Animal Behavior, I Learned in Loehmann's Dressing Room

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All I Know About Animal Behavior, I Learned in Loehmann's Dressing Room is a 1995 book by Erma Bombeck.

Erma returns to contemplate the comparability of people and animals, from the treatment of illnesses to the marking of one's personal territory to the drive for recreation. The American humorist spends a book as a comedy-focused Jane Goodall, examining the trials and insanity of the animal kingdom and humanity alike.

This book includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Elderly Mother: Erma discusses women having children at advanced ages in the first chapter. Specifically, she mentions one woman who gave birth at 59 and another who carried her own grandchildren because her daughter couldn't. Erma declares this risky. A woman this age could set the baby down and not remember where.
  • Cuteness Equals Forgiveness: Erma muses on how a cute animal can enjoy a longer life expectancy than it merits. An uglier creature like a scorpion dies immediately once sighted, but a cuter animal can get away with all manner of mischief. One of her pets, a very badly behaved Yorkshire Terrier, managed to get adopted by a new owner (despite Erma's truthful answers about his flaws and despite pooping on her couch in front of her) because of his adorableness.
  • Everyone Hates Fruitcakes: The book contains an entire section discussing fruitcake along with other indestructible foods (namely split pea soup and hard rolls). She also claims that fruitcake bakers never eat their own products but zealously insist on pressing them onto other people, completely unfazed by the unfavorable reaction.
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: During one segment, Erma states she never got the hang of how to greet people.
    When I think someone's a shaker, he's invariably a hugger and I wind up with my arms stuck to my sides like a mummy that's just fallen out of its sarcophagus.
  • High-Voltage Death: During her section on pet funerals, Erma mentions a hamster that died from biting too far into the electric toaster wire and had to have a memorial service instead.
  • Hypocritical Humor: During a lamentation about the "health police" ruining all the fun of eating, Erma tells a story about slipping out of a movie for some popcorn and taking it outside to eat. She comes upon a group of smokers, who, when they find out what she's doing, chastise her for doing something so unhealthy and disgusting.
  • Indestructible Edible: Erma wrote an entire section devoted to three cockroach-like foods (both in being loathed and in being "survivors"): split pea soup, hard rolls, and fruitcake. She claimed one batch of split pea soup survived three losses of electricity, teenage children, a snowstorm, and a century-long flood. Hard rolls toughen into a rock-like consistency hours after purchase and will heal after being bitten. She also agrees with the rumor that every fruitcake you see is really one of four or five in existence being passed around like hot potatoes.
  • Intimate Healing: Erma says that her husband refuses to kiss anyone but her, his mother, and his dog. According to her, someone who wanted to perform CPR on him would have to wait until after proper introductions.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: Erma states that the IRS moves faster than a cheetah when it's cashing your check (despite all the issues with other parts of the government). It also has No Sense of Humor or mercy and will be present whenever you win a jackpot to take its cut and punish you if you don't turn it in.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: Erma relates owning a bird named Barney who knew only two phrases: "Hello, Barney" and "Telephone!" She tried training him further with a tape, but quit and gave Barney to one of her kids after three weeks of said tape succeeded only in exasperating her and causing her husband to say one of the tape's phrases.
  • Side Effects Include...: During a sketch about medicine, Erma mentions the "side effects" required disclosure. She then points out all the ways these disclaimers can ruin one's life, such as by giving one a choice between dealing with a drippy nose all day or losing one's job because one cannot drive under influence of the nose drops.