A Look On The Lighter Side: Masters of the universe

Judy Epstein

My friend was very excited. “I’ve just qualified to be a Master Gardener!” she announced.

“Congratulations,” I said. “But what does that mean?”

“It means she’s completed the Master Gardener Training Course offered by the Cooperative Extension of Cornell University,” her husband explained.

“Yes, and it involved many hours of training; answering a hot-line. and a final exam!” my friend elaborated. “But it means that now, I can tell other gardeners what to do!”

Her husband leaned toward me. He said, “What it really means is that, now, she tries to tell me what I’m doing wrong, in my own garden!”

“I heard that!” his wife said.

“Am I wrong?” he asked.

“Frequently,” she answered.

But I wasn’t listening. “So you’re a ‘Master,’” I said. “I like the sound of that. I’d like to be a Master of something, too.”

It might not be gardening, however; I’ve only recently passed the test my son gave me for how to tell the raspberry bush in our backyard from poison ivy! Oh, don’t worry, I never touched the thing. That’s why the berries were all shriveled up, still on the vine, by the time he came home for the summer. He was not amused.

“Yes, Mom, they both have three-leaf groupings.”

“Then how am I supposed to tell them apart?”

“Well, for one thing, raspberry leaves aren’t shiny. For another, they’re usually on a long stiff stem that is bristling with thorns; and for a third thing, it’s the one with red raspberries. Which I hope you will pick, next time, before they are ruined!”

So I’m not Master Gardener material. “What else is there to Master?” I ask the group.

“Well, there’s Zen master,” says my husband.

“I don’t have time for that,” I retort. “What else has Masters?”

“Oh, so many things,” says my friend’s husband. “There are Master Carpenters, Electricians, and Plumbers.”

“Do they teach those at the Cornell Extension?”

“Probably not.”

“What about a Master Diver?” says my friend. “I heard that term in the movie ‘Man of Honor’ with Cuba Gooding, Jr. a few years ago, and it has a nice ring to it.”

“Well, you’d have to join the Navy first,” says my husband.

“So that’s out.” I think for a minute. “I seem to recall there was someone called ‘Master of Horse, who was in charge of the stables, the pageants, etcetera. For Queen Elizabeth.”

“They must have been plenty busy, just now, what with the Royal Wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.”

“No, I meant Elizabeth the First. In Shakespeare’s time.”

“So, not really something current,” pointed out my friend. “I think you’ll do better with classes in Continuing Education.”

“Like what? What do they have?”

“Things like Tennis; Defensive Driving; Mah Jongg….”

“More things I’m not any good at.”

“Not even Defensive Driving?” My husband is startled.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take it again,” I say. “I just wish they had something I could master!”

“Well, for sure it won’t be map-reading!”

“Who said that?”

My husband, my friend, and her husband all try to look innocent…and all fail.

“When it comes to driving, however, there is something you do better than anyone else I’ve ever met,” says my beloved.

“What’s that?”

“You second-guess my driving like nobody’s business! ‘Oh, sweetie, slow down, those cars ahead might stop suddenly; but watch out, don’t brake too fast, the truck behind us might not notice in time, and look out! the car next to us might swerve’…”

“Well, one did, and almost hit us, just yesterday!” I point out, pouting.

“One time, in twenty years! And anyway, I saw him before you did.”

It does give me an idea, though. “I know something I could definitely Master,” I say, smugly. “But you’ll never guess.”

“At least give us a hint!” my friends beg.

“Well, let’s say they do have Master classes. No matter what they’re teaching, though, somebody might mess up. What if they leave out a chapter? Or skip over one? Who’s going to supervise all that? I will! I’ll go to everything; listen in; and tell them all what they’re doing wrong!”

“And what are your credentials for such a job? Do you have any teaching certification?”

“No. But I am a mother. And I’m Jewish. It’s called kibbitzing. I’m sure I could find a way.”

“You know what?” says my husband. “I’m sure you could. They’ll never know what hit ‘em.”

About the author

Judy Epstein

Share this Article