“Would you look at that?” said my grandmother, once upon a time. “Says here that more couples get divorced than get married.” She and her boyfriend/chief worshiper were sitting around the kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, a ritual they conducted every morning.
Being eight, I did not question the statistical difficulties with this, but accepted that, as Grandma seemed to think, this was a harbinger of the collapse of civilization. Grandma was exceedingly clever but not terribly good at higher math.
The irony here was that if anybody was contributing to the divorce rate, it was Grandma, who went through husbands the way a dog goes through chew toys. She had been a regular Rosie the Riveter type during the war–married at sixteen, a mother at seventeen, and widowed at eighteen, as the saying goes. After that, she had decided three years was about the active shelf-life of a husband, and had proceeded to marry, marry, and marry again. (In fairness, I think she would have liked them to last longer, but she tended to burn them out along the way. It’s hard to marry a goddess.) Generally she got divorced afterwards, although occasionally they died, which grieved her terribly but did save paperwork.
All this makes her sound like a terrible person, so the thing I have to point out here is that the men were mostly not complaining. It wasn’t just that she was compassionate, warm, and big-hearted. Grandma had charisma. She wasn’t just conventionally likable, she was slightly more than human. When you were around her, you were on a grand and absurdly fun adventure. Going to the grocery store with her was better than going to Six Flags with lesser mortals. She had the mojo.
So the ex-husbands that piled up tended to be exhausted, but hopeful. Occasionally she would marry the same one twice. On at least one occasion, several of them went in together and bought her a house. She really was more like a goddess with worshipers than anything else, although being a devout Catholic, she would have denied any such comparison.*
I mention all this, partly because I love talking about my grandmother–the world lost a great power when she died–but also because I have found that recently my reading tastes have expanded to include that weird sub-genre of–is it chick lit? I suppose it’s chick lit, which reminds me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s statement “‘Chick lit’ is NEVER meant as a compliment”–of memoirs written by clever, funny women who have just had awful divorces. (I mentioned this to my buddy Otter, who gave me a Look and said “Gee. I wonder why that could be.” )
I would buy condoms from a nun with less shame than I feel purchasing such things, but nevertheless, I devour the few I have located. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure where to find more–“Funny Divorce Memoir” is not exactly a standard shelf label, and so “Eat Pray Love” and “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress” have been the only two I’ve located recently, along with the Sweet Potato Queen books, which are particularly funny if you live in the South and have some small experience with local cuisine and backstabbing.
Thing is, I’m not looking for self-help. I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. I do not need to cope with my grief through the power of Jesus–I coped with my grief through the power of antidepressants and staying busy, a system I recommend highly to anyone in such a situation. I do not particularly need to be inspired. I am not looking to find a man–I have a very good one. I just want to be amused and occasionally go “Preach it, sister!”
Book recommendations welcomed.
*The trick for how she got all those marriages annulled was equally impressive, and required finding an impressionable young priest and weeping on his shoulder about how she’d thought it had been anulled, but apparently it hadn’t and oh god, she was a bigamist and going to hell now and what could she doooo? The priest, no more immune to the mojo than anybody else, would immediately promise to fix this terrible muddle for the nice lady. This trick only worked once per priest, but Grandma moved a lot.
I’m going to give you a recomendation but I’m nervous about doing it because I want to know after if you like it. It’s going to drive me crazy not knowing if you thought it was funny.
It isn’t exactly chic lit and it’s not about divorce but it’s about families and how you love people who drive you absolutly crazy. And the Mom is just like your Grandmother – ozing charism and mesmerizing anyone who come into her sphere.
It’s called Bingo and it’s by Rita Mae Brown. I think it’s side splitingly funny even after many a read. There are some other books that come before and after it about the same family that are good too but Bingo is my favorite. Hope you like it!
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