It was a totally girlie evening on 9/17 when we met at Karen’s for our third book club meeting. The book – I Feel Bad About My Neck – calls for girlieness and who better to host it than the one and only Karen? Even the drive to Karen’s was girlie. Debby, Eddie and I set out to Karen’s with two contradicting driving directions. One was provided by Karen with instructions to exit a major highway at an exit number that didn’t exit and she totally forgot to tell us to turn left on a road called Crepe something before turning left into her street. Fortunately, Debby remembered the Crepe something road because she “remembered the name ‘Crappy’ something road” when she came to visit Karen previously. Eddie brought map quest driving directions which sent us round and round little streets in the sticks. Still, we were only 7 minutes late with two women navigating and I the designate driver totally ignoring directions and trying to apply the Ethiopian sensibility of finding directions – use instinct and landmarks.
Karen surprised us with things straight out of the book. There were hand-made purses for all of us because there is a whole chapter in the book discussing the “stuff” we women carry around in our purses. We compared the “stuff” in our purses and we found Kiss chocolate from Dec. ’06, European minute tampon, a cigar cutter which was miraculously lost from one of our houses (and a reason why one of us were lecturing the husband about “misplacing things and asking me to find it…” OOPS!). After that, we appreciated even more the chapter in the book – I hate My Purse.
The menu – well, the menu that Karen prepared captured the following out of the book:
The most important thing I learned from Lee was something I call the Rule of Four. Most people serve three things for dinner – some sort of meat, some sort of starch, and some sort of vegetable – but Lee always served four. And the fourth thing was always unexpected… (page 27)
We had the Chinese food theme going on (because Nora had dinner party which was everything Chinese) – spring rolls, ground chicken stuffed cucumber soup, lemon chicken with a zesty, pineapple-y thick sauce right out of page 23 and the fourth odd item was Cabbage Strudel – one of the recipe’s that Nora Ephron feels nostalgic about (recipe here). It was delicious, greasy, crispy and it was worth getting a little gasy.
In honor of the section where Nora comes out and tells her story about what didn’t happen and why nothing happened between her and JFK when she was an intern at the White House, Karen down loaded this cool Clinton picture for our entertainment.
Now that I have read the articles about Mimi Fahnestock, it has become horriblyclear to me that I am probably the only young woman who ever worked in the Kennedy White House that the president did not make a pass at. Perhapts it was my permanent wave, which was a truly unfortunate mistake. Perhaps it was my wardrobe. …Perhaps it’s because I’m Jewish…. On the other hand, perhaps nothing happened because JFK somehow sensed that discretion was not my middle name. (page 89)
We had fun reading some symptoms from the book Heal Your Body by Louise T. Hay. Let me share some intriguing definitions of common ailments:
Cholestrol – clogging the channels of joy. Fear of accepting joy. Cure - say “I choose to love life. My channels of joy are wide open. It’s safe to receive”.
Coughs – A desire to bark at the world “See me! Listen to me!” Cure – say “I am noticed and appreciated in the most positive ways. I am loved!”
At 10:30pm, we wrapped up the fun and headed home singing Country Road Take Me Home and Debbie and Eddy still navigating and shouting instructions at me on how to pay toll – duh!
We honestly did more than just laughing, eating, comparing secrets of purses and getting lost. We had some serious items on our agenda.
1. Our commitment to help Afghan kids – we agreed (on behalf of absentees as well) that we will fund raise on behalf of Afghan Reading Project – a UK registered charity organization working in Afghanistan. We are hopeful that we can organize something around Christmas and raise $4.500 to build a library and resource center in Kabul. Imagine what a meaningful Christmas it will be if we can pull this off.
We agreed to brainstorm about fund raising ideas and division of labour by October 15 (the next book club meeting).
2. Next meeting – We are reading The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengistu and we’re meeting at my house on October 15 at 7pm.
3. Contribution to meeting dinner – we decided to contribute $10 which will go towards the dinner during our meetings.
We’ll leave it up to the hostess to either stay within budget or splash out.
4. The review
This is a light book which starts off very witty, bold, daring and detailed. As the chapters progress, paragraphs that make you laugh out loud are replaced by those which make you just smile. Towards the end the book even becomes a bit dreary and it feels like reading a manual.
Still, it is nice to read about things like what we women carry in our purses, the facts about aging neck – that there is absolutely nothing in the world that a woman can do about her sagging neck. How sad! In the era of nip-n-tuck nobody can come up with a fix to hide aging neck?
The central theme of the book – keeping up appearances, becoming a “woman of a certain age”, forced maintenance of the body to fit in – seem pointless in the context of the feminism movement. Isn’t the whole purpose of the movement to free women of gender imposed tasks and expectations by men. If it is, then who are we going through the painful trouble of staying young and being a super woman? Our consensus is that we women brought it on ourselves. We compete with each – who is vainer, basically. We also agreed that compared to American women, European women are less prone to driving themselves crazy with painful and waste-of-time maintenance regimes.
Beyond neck, Ephron discusses parenthood in this book. Actually, she has some interesting observations of the transition from being a father and a mother to becoming parents. She also goes in some detail about the difference and the impact that transition is having on children today.
We give this book 2 out of 5.