A Treasury of Benny’s Brighteners? – GOLD NOTES #19

by Matthew J. (Matt) Goldberg


Tuesday, January, 8 2012


We all would like to believe that our children are the cutest, brightest, funniest, most talented people on earth—and why should we disabuse ourselves of these beliefs? Why, indeed.

Mathematically, we can’t all have such children, but why should reality intervene on such matters? Our children are our jewels and we should value their precious moments without, it should be said, boring others to death (or at least sickness) over everything they do. It’s a challenge to try to find that invisible line between pride and arrogance—or at least boastfulness. In my case, that challenge hit me later in life than I would have planned it, although I am thankful and appreciative of the opportunity to be a Dad. It keeps me young; it ages me; it’s life.

As the youngest of three boys, I have no first-hand memories of my own first three-plus years, spent in a suburb of Hartford, Connecticut called Bloomfield. My Dad of blessed memory was a journalist and worked for the Jewish Ledger and later the Hartford Times during his Connecticut period. I knew nothing about it then, but part of the family lore was that he would occasionally contribute little anecdotes about my older brothers (Dan and Josh, if you’re keeping score) that were called Brighteners. It was a much different era then, and there was no way for readers to comment on such feel-good anecdotes via social media. Apparently, these brighteners stopped before I was born; until now, I’ve never thought too long and hard about the reasons why. Hmm…

Fast forward to recent times; my only child, Benjamin…mostly called Benny…is now almost four-and-a-half. It seems as if he’s already given us a lifetime of fun, fascination and sometimes frustration in these years. Despite all the technology available, I haven’t recorded and shared too many of these moments. Well, not enough for my liking, although I did write about some of my experiences as a new father in one of my books which is titled, All That Twitters is Not Goldberg: Truthful Humor From a Vindicated Columnist. No, the full title isn’t longer than some of the short essays.

There has been no real methodology to my recording some of Benny’s various moments, although I have started to do so sporadically in that almost time-honored way: I’ve taken to posting various Benny-isms on Facebook. At times, I wonder about the appropriateness of doing so, as he isn’t yet old enough to really voice pleasure or displeasure with this practice. But I don’t post any videos, and don’t really brag too much about him. I don’t think.

When I started posting these…truth be told…I did it to record some of these great moments and words of wisdom and to, I guess, boast just a little bit about how precocious or brilliant or funny he is. I try to find the line between being entertaining and being obnoxious. Oh yeah, I try not to cross it. I also want people to be able to relate to the little stories, but at times be amazed at some of the stuff Benny has come up with. The key is to let these moments unfold organically. Once they do, I then try to capture and convey them as accurately as possible.

From the feedback I’ve received, I may try to incorporate them into a book; would that be appropriate, or at least a compelling read to others? And, my somewhat practical side then asks, Okay, and how marketable would it be?

One of the first Benny-isms I recorded in some fashion was this. He was two at the time, if that. Perhaps, you’d have to be there; I don’t know:


On our kitchen floor is a plastic container filled with (uncooked) rice. At an early age, Benny learned how to pop the lid off and from there, he loved to roll his cars and trains around. Mostly harmless fun, but my wife, Ruby, wasn’t a big fan of this game—which we call “playing rice”—and his getting kernels all over the floor.
One evening, I’m asleep on the couch, Ruby’s washing dishes and Benny’s doing his thing.
Ruby: Honey, can you wake up and keep an eye on Benny.
Me (barely awake): Hey Benny, is everything okay?
Benny: Don’t worry, Daddy, I’m playing rice.
Or, there’s this one from yesterday, which illustrates some of his abundant humor and ability to work the language. I was talking with my highly verbal, and selectively verbose, little guy—teaching him about synonyms.
Me: Benny, synonyms are words that mean the same as each other.
Benny: Really?

M: Yes. So, what would be a synonym for big?

B: Huge.

M: Good. What’s a synonym for small?

B: Smaller.

M: Not quite.

B:  Little?

M: Great.

B:  Dad, what’s a cinnamon for toenails?

M: Synonym.

B:  Yep. What’s a cinnamon for toenails?

M:  Fingernails?

B:  No, toenails.

M:  Yes, fingernails?

B:   No.

M:  Is fingernails correct?

B:   No.

M:  What’s a synonym for correct?

B:   What is it?

M:  Right.

B:  Wrong.


It went something like that. Yes, at times, we unintentionally evoke Abbott & Costello’s Who’s on First routine. And then, there are 50 or 60 others that I have shared and typed out. Some may be more resonant than others, some are funnier, and some display more wisdom. In some ways, it’s impossible to know which fit into those loose categories. One day, I’ll let my readers decide that.


GOLD NOTES is a weekly feature that is, well, about something, if not quite everything, or nothing. To leave a comment, please reply below or send Matt an e-mail.

Matt’s latest book, “A Snowball’s Chance: Philly Fires Back Against the National Media”, is now available on Amazon.com; contact him for more information.

For information about Matt’s books, sports columns, speaking events and requests for appearances and custom writing, please visit www.tipofthegoldberg.com, or contact him via email. Please also like his new Facebook Fan Page (“to like, to like, l’chayim”), which can be found here.


Filed Under: Gold NotesHumor


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Matthew J. Goldberg About the Author: An author, speaker and custom writer from Cherry Hill, NJ, Matt loves to entertain people through his writing and public speaking. Laughs, Smiles and just enough Wisdom reach his audience through the magic of his written and spoken words. More about Matthew

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  1. I’m not sure why the print font came out weird, but hope you enjoyed the piece.

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