THIS IS SO US - FROM THE PERSON WHO'S ONLY READ FOUR PAGES DOWN TO THE PERSON DESPERATELY SPEED READING THROUGH THE LAST FEW PAGES!
It’s not that we’re snobs, or any great shakes as a book club, intellectually speaking. We’re just too old and set in our ways, and know each other too well, to bring a young pup into the picture. Although I've been a member for 16 years, I was the last to join. This club has been meeting for over 30 years!
Our previous limit was 12, a perfect number for each member to choose a book and host a meeting once a year. But like with any group, attrition took its toll. Former long-time members are now living in Idaho, Colorado and Florida.
One member dropped out because of overwhelming family problems. We would welcome her back with open arms. But other people have come and gone, neither staying very long nor making much of an impression.
I think the decision to not take new members happened at Susan’s last meeting. Knowing Susan was moving away, Kathy had invited a prospective member, who brought yet another person. Darned if Prospective Member didn’t stand up and proceed to take over the meeting. She thought she was the boss lady, the queen bee. I’m sure you know what the rest of us thought! We told Kathy to inform Miss Fancy Pants that she and her friend would NOT be joining the club (poor friend). Fancy Pants did not take the news well, and name calling ensued. Needless to say, Kathy decided she’d never invite a PM again!
So here we are, originally just members of a club and now fast friends. Judy, at 64, is our matriarch. Kathy, in her early 50s, is still a babe. We’re named CRS, for Can’t Remember S--- (or more politely, Stuff). Really, no new member could put up with our willy-nilly memory lapses, our dilly-dallying when shopping or our shilly-shallying when trying to make plans.
Over the years we’ve taken road trips for shopping and dining, to visit our long-distance member, Ginger, and to attend a Dickens Festival. For a couple of summers we had sleepovers at Barb N.’s cabin, a peaceful setting on a lake near Butte, ND. (For a bunch of old broads, they sure stay up late!)
Like any group that has been together so long, we have our "in" jokes. The most famous is probably, “Tiger, what tiger?” Barb N., unknowingly, had skipped not a few pages of Pat Conroy's "The Prince of Tides" and missed the tiger part. For anyone not familiar with the book, the tiger plays an integral role. So every now and then, when a person is not quite up to speed on a topic, we’ll say “Tiger, what tiger?”
Like elephants, we never forget and we never let anyone else forget either. We’ll never let Judy off the hook for the time when she was trying to explain Marilyn Monroe’s allure. “She had those, you know, they attract men, you know, those pair-o' -phones.” (Pheromones)
Or the time when I was hosting the summer picnic and a microburst ripped through Bismarck. Concerned about heating our food after the power went off, Judy asked me if my oven was gas or electric. “I don’t know!” I wailed. As an excuse for my mental block, you need to know that at the time I had a river of water running through my kitchen.
And woe to the person who accidentally erased the tape of Oprah’s interview with Diane Downs. Though it happened years ago, it is still fresh in everyone’s mind, including mine, and I wasn’t even in the club then! (If you don’t remember Diane Downs, read Ann Rule’s true crime book, “Small Sacrifices”).
And then there’s me, The Book Nazi. I acquired this hideous title just because I insist that everyone read every book, every month. Sheesh, give me a break already!
I once joked that since many members don’t always read the book, we should just become a social club like The Red Hat Society. I was certainly set straight. I was informed in no uncertain terms that there would be No Red Hatters in this club.
We’re a diverse group that includes social workers, an artist, a librarian, a teacher and two former newspaper reporters. Some of us have kids, some don’t. Some of us still slog away at a job every day, some are retired. However, we are all post-menopausal mamas and we are all longstanding, grassroots Democrats. If there's a connection there, we're unaware of it!
We laugh a lot, sometimes to the point of not being able to catch our breath. Judy is a born oral storyteller and Mary Lee has a droll wit. We gossip a lot and eat scrumptious desserts and drink loads of coffee. But we always get around to talking about the book.
It’s not all been fun. Some of us have lost parents, or children, or siblings. We’ve had health problems, divorces, job losses and financial troubles. We are getting older. Some members are beginning to have vision problems, which does not bode well for book club. But through all these trials, we have loved and supported each other. I love these ladies and I will still love them when we're all wearing our old-lady plastic rain hats and knee-high nylons with dresses.
Some of our favorite books:
“The Shell Seekers” by Rosamunde Pilcher
“I Capture The Castle” by Dodie Smith
“Peace Like A River” Leif Enger
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger
“The Birth of Venus” by Sarah Dunant
“Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett
“Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See
“Stones From the River” by Ursula Hegi
“Five Quarters of the Orange” by Joanne Harris
Multiple books by the aforementioned Ann Rule, plus Sue Monk Kidd, Jodi Picoult, Barbara Kingsolver, Anna Quindlen, Minnesota's John Hassler and Amy Tan.
Are any of you in a book club? Do you have fun stories to share? What are some of the books your club has read? If you're not in a club, what good books have you read lately? Are there any books you are pining for?
In honor of my one-year blogiversary coming up very soon, I will give away a brand NEW book by drawing a random name from the commenters on this post.
ADDED THURSDAY: I will draw the name on Sunday.