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 Dear  Madrone,

Who gets to name a baby?

Frustrated Mother of the Mother.

Dear Frustrated

Are you kidding me? The mother, with whatever say she lets the father have.   You have nothing to do with it.

God bless, Donna

Dear Madrone,

But the child in question is odd. What if she picks an odd name for my granddaughter?


Dear Readers

Hop in the Ass as my grandfather (may he rest) used to say. Itís twenty frigging eleven, who could ever have predicted that? Oh waitÖ. Anybody could.   Which is to say, anybody with any sense that is.  There are all sorts of nutsy cuckcoo jamokes out there who think that the world is going to end because of this or that thing.  Well I have news for you...the world isnít going anywhere. Sooner or later YOU will, though.   Not to be a wet blanket or anything, but thatís how it is.  Speaking of whichÖ


Dear Readers,

Donít complain to me about the holidays.  If you donít like your relatives, then donít go see them. No one is breaking your arm. However, keep in mind, the world in which we get to hang out with only people who donít drive us crazy is only for the people who donít know that other people are driving them crazy or those who donít care what other people think. In other words, not for most of us.  Here is  a couple of holiday stories to make you feel better.

God bless, Donna        


 Dear Confused,

The world has been insane for a long time.  Especially about sex. What's crazy is that it takes nine months between doing the deed and having the kid. You realize there must have been some cave lady somewhere who was the first one to put it together. I can just imagine her, in the middle of roasting some saber toothed tiger or plucking the hairs out of a mastodon chop, when it struck her that it was no accident that little Alley Oop looked just like the palooka from the next cave over. She would have dropped her teeth, if she had any left.  (I don't think hygiene was that big a deal, you don't see any cavemen in tubs, but they managed somehow, otherwise how would we all be here to wonder about it?) Anyhow, with regards to the bathtubs, they are selling plumbing services to people whose drains are clogged.


Dear Madrone,

About ten years ago, my mother-in law gave me a ring. It was a big honker ring, from her family, but ugly. I mean butt ugly which isnít to say I wasnít grateful, just that I would not be caught dead wearing such a thing. Now donít get me wrong, I love my mother-in Ėlaw, she is a sweetheart. So I took it, and told her how much I loved the ring (lie) and how much I appreciated her affection (truth) and told her that I would treasure it always (depending on what you think I mean by it, lie or truth, or lie AND truth, either way) So. I put it in my dresser, with my other stuff. Which I have to say, is mostly junk, that a self respecting cat burglar would pass on. And I forgot about it. So whatís the problem you ask? About three years ago, I was wondering what I did with it, and I went to my dresser drawer and IT WASNĒT THERE. I have no idea what happened to it. None. Nobody has robbed the house, my husband could care less, but the ring was gone, kapoof, like it never was.

Dear Madrone,
When is it ok to butt in? My neighbor down the block has a brother whose son is a no good lying two face ratfink SOB. And I mean no disrespect to the rest of two face ratfinks, who tell the truth and are legit. Whatever. This guy is a complete waste. And he married a sweetie pie, who has no clue that he is sleeping around with UPS delivery lady, this week! Last week it was the cheerleading coach, and the month before that, the sister of the wife he's making a fool of. Everyone knows, except the wife. And everyone says, butt out. No one will take pity. Should I?

MAY 2010

Dear Madrone,

I love my girlfriend, Cookie, she is a doll and a half, where am I hardly one quarter of a doll myself. I gave her one dozen of the best roses money could buy to celebrate Valentineís Day, they set me back a bundle, let me tell you. And she was gratifyingly grateful at least I thought so. Hereís whatís been bugging me. I sent her the flowers at work, which she took home with her- she stopped in the convenience store to pick up a half gallon of milk and some Kaiser rolls, and there was this sad sack guy moaning and groaning that he had no $ to spend on his girl

APRIL  2010

Dear Madrone,

Not too long ago, a TV person who runs one of those makeover shows Ė this one was called something like From Hot Mess to  Hot Ness, came to my house to offer me a fat wad of cash if I would let them change me for the better-their better.  I turned them down flat.  Nervy rat faced SOBs they were. I am 43,I live with my  mother (saint), donít have any problems with women- my main squeeze is just that, (inflatable and stored in a box under my futon.)

MARCH 2010

Last year, my sister’s brother-in-law’s sister’s cousin  Reeda and her third husband Lou took one of those cruises where they have everything, food twenty four seven, gambling, nightclub, mini shopping mall, beauty parlors and even a discount bulk store for people who buy sequined caftans in mass quantity.  It sounded dreamy,  I admit I was completely jealous,  and bugged my husband to take me on a trip just like it, even though it cost an arm and and leg. So he did. And here’s the thing. It was HORRIBLE. FULL STORY


Help me, I am going crazy. For the life of me, I cannot remember  names. Well, I can remember the name all right, I just never can attach it to the right face.  Seriously.  And people remember mine, no problem, maybe because I always wear a necklace that says who I am.  I got it from my mother, may she rest. Why donít all people do this? But they donít. So what am I supposed to do when someone comes up to me and talks like they know me from way back, and is delighted to remember all the good times we shared, and how much we owe each other, and I donít know them from Adam and they DONíT TELL ME WHO THEY ARE! FULL STORY


Itís the holidays. If you have any money left over after you pay your bills,and whatever protection money outstanding, you might be wracking your brains thinking of what to get whoever. And many of you write me, Madrone, tell us what to do about all these thigamajigs that everyone has to have. FULL STORY


Dear Readers,

Here's a question I get asked all the time, when is all right for people to fool around at work? Just a couple of samples.

Dear Readers,

First, you know when someone gets really bad news from the doctor and they say, wow, it makes me rethink all the crap, none of it is important? Guess what? I'm your doctor and I have bad news for you: You aren't going to live forever. So start rethinking crap FULL STORY>>

October 2009

Dear Readers,
Life is tough out there these days, and who knows better than me? My neighbors, my relatives and their family, the people down the street, and the ones I meet at the Cost Co, or at the beauty parlor or down at the Senior Citizens, all have some aches or pains they have to discuss, with me, or with whoever has the time of day to pass with them.  But you know what’s a real kick in the slats? Having a problem that no one wants to hear about.



Dear Madrone,

Can you explain about money again? It gets confusing. I have an aunt of an aunt who is loaded. She has stuff out the wazoo, statues of porcelain, furniture with 24 carat gold threads woven through the upholstery, which gleam right through the plastic, a coffee table with a top made of a marble slab mined in Carrara.


MAY 2009

Dear Readers,

What can I say, it's May? And you know what that means. Everyone who was in the house all winter, can now be found outside, picking crab grass out of the zoysia plugs, waxing the Chevy (which could mean something else, but I am most definitely not referring to THAT, which by the way, is not particular to any season) or sitting on what passes for a stoop these days, watching the world go by. FULL STORY>>


Dear Readers,

I was standing on line the other day reading about some bachegaloop who gave his wife an internal organ, without which she would have expired, and then she turns around and uses the gift of life to give him the horns, and he was agitated, to say the least. Wanted it back. Which is to say, he wanted his life back the way it was when he would give her a piece of him, no questions asked.


March 2009

Dear Madrone,

What is NOT a waste of time?

Anxious, Valley Creek

Dear Anxious,

Ignoring this question.

God bless, Donna


February 2009

Dear Madrone,

I have a serious problem. My husband, god bless him, has joined one of those computer lists where you find out what happened to everyone you went to high school with. This after 35 years of not caring. In fact, I went to the same high school and I know that it was filled, to put it mildly, with a bunch of palookas. Yeah, yeah, I know that people grow up and seriously I wouldn't want anyone to go by what I was like in those days (Thank god they have statute of limitations on teasing hair, there could be serious jailtime.)



Dear Madrone,

It's January and everything is a mess. I admit it. I didn't do my cards, my house looks like a cyclone hit it, my children run around like ragamuffins. But the real thing is that I don't care. I'm happy. People may or may not talk about me, behind my back, but so what. If they don't say it to my face, which they rarely ever do, it means nothing. And further more, I have no time to waste on BS.



Dear Madrone,

I am so furious I could spit. My mother, god bless, is no spring chicken. She's not even a summer chicken, more like a late fall, early winter bird. She is married to a man, who for the sake of anonymity, I will call Stepfather." My father is in heaven with the angels. I would say I'm glad he isn't alive to see this, but if he was alive, there wouldn't be anything to see.


November/ December 2008

Dear Madrone,

My nose is out of joint, and I am hoping you can set it to rights. My mother's sister's children, aka my cousins, are throwing a bash for their mother's sister, aka my aunt. This is as it should be. What children wouldn't throw a bash for their mother. I never did for mine, but that's not really my fault. I was planning to, ,but she ran away with the undertaker who did my father for his wake, god bless them both.


September 2008

The Madrone, month by month

People write me all the time and ask me what I think about all kinds of things, because they need someone to tell them the most basic facts, like where is their elbow.

Here's some things you need to know, if you're gonna live right.


May 2008

Dear Madrone,

I don't get why things are such a mess down my way. I mean the garbage doesn't get picked up regular, and the kids talk like they were raised by hoodlums, and they dress like slobs, even when their people make good money.


Dear Madrone,

I am a guy. I want you to explain women. I was at Costco, stocking up on necessities, by which I mean the economy pack of TP- 1000 sheets, 5.99, unbelievable bargain, when this young lady about my age passes by me, gives me the once over and rolls her eyes. A seriously negative roll.


Dear Madrone,
My husband's mother is a doll face, what can I say. I have no complaints about her at all, none, which is to say there is one thing about her that is driving me out of my tree. She is a chatty Cathy. Non stop. Night or day. No matter what. You can not shut the woman up. She can talk about anything for hours. Like the time I took her to the movies, to see that nice picture about the woman who was having some trouble and she didn't trust the right person until the very end when she realized her mistake just before it was too late and the right person not only saves her home but also marries her AND makes sure that the person who was causing all the trouble will never bother her ever ever again, I can't tell you how much I LOVE that movie


Dear Madrone,

My husband and I have this disagreement about what is love. He says it's getting up every morning, going to work, coming home, turning over the paycheck without complaining, day after day, week after week, year after year. I'm not knocking that, but seriously would it kill him to put on a nice shirt and take me out for a meal some place classy where the food doesn't come out of a sack? I can't remember the last time we went some place besides his mother's… oh right that's because we didn't. He says I'm being silly, I say, if he loved me, he would think twice before he tries to push dinner with his three brothers, their screaming wives and their assorted brats as a night on the town. My husband agrees to take me out if you say it's a good idea.

Torqued off, Williamsport.


January 2008

Dear Madrone,

I don't understand anything. And you understand everything. Why is that? Baffled, Malone.

Dear Baffled,

You understand at least one thing.. that you're baffled. That puts you ahead of 99.9999 per cent of people in the world. I don't understand things either, I'm just telling you how they are. That doesn't make me smart, just makes me honest. Which puts me ahead of 99.9999 per cent of people in the world, which by the way aren't the same 99.9999 per cent as yours.

God bless, Donna


DECEMBER 2007-MAY 2006





Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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