A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine handed me a copy of a book and said something like, “This made me think of you and your book.” Having now read the memoir, what I think he meant to say was, “This is what you might sound like if you were Mennonite, could construct coherent sentences, cursed less, and Rocco wanted to sleep with Bob, the guy from gay.com.”
“You marry your pothead if you like,” she said generously, “as long as you wait a while. Let’s say two years. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
“Hey!” I said indignant. “How do you know the pothead doesn’t serve the Lord? As a matter of fact, this pothead does serve the Lord! He’s more religious than I am!” (I felt safe in asserting this because I had once heard the pothead softly singing “Amazing Grace.”)
“I think the Lord appreciates a man on a tractor more than a man smoking marijuana in his pajamas, ” Mom said earnestly. “I know I do.”
Do I even have to say I loved this book? I mean, it’s sort of a given, right? The author, Rhoda Janzen, talks about using her uterus as a storage device in the first five pages. What’s not to love?
I bet she has a non-sexual crush on Neil Patrick Harris and is easily confused by toenails, too. Ok, maybe not the toenail part.
And she loves people, despite all the heartache she’s survived. I love people that love people. And I love people that notice the tiny beautiful details of other people. And I love Barbra Streisand singing “People Who Need People,” but that’s a bit off topic.
He had sunrise eyes, the kind that smile in a little fan of laugh lines.
Rhoda’s story (and you really have to call her by her first name because three pages in you feel like you’ve shared a Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag with her after a horrifying ghost story while on a ill-fated camping trip) should be soul crushing and depressing. Yet somehow in her telling, the story becomes a joyful celebration of life – and not in a schmaltzy, saccharine, made-for-a-Lifetime-Movie-marathon kind of way. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t occasionally tear your heart out and Riverdance on it.
I always assumed that bipolar folks were missing some crucial fuse in their anger-management system – that their inner thermometer was set a shade too high. Two years out from my marriage, I now have a more useful perspective. After Nick left, I eventually began dating a man I liked but didn’t love, and I finally have firsthand experience in those little sparks of irritation that ignite impatience. I’d never even noticed them. It was after Nick had left me that I learned the lesson: it’s when you don’t love somebody that you do notice the little things. Then you mind them. You mind them terribly.
Her dry wit permeates each page. And she’s smart as a whip. (That saying makes no sense, bee tee dubs. I’ve never met a whip that understood fractions.) I think every teenage girl should have the following passage tattooed on their forearm.
In my opinion, sexiness comes down to three things: chemistry, sense of humor, and treatment of waitstaff at restaurants. If the sparks don’t fly from the beginning, they never will. If he doesn’t get your sense of humor from the first conversation, you’ll always secretly be looking for someone who does. And if a guy can’t see restaurant servers as real people, with need and dreams and crappy jobs, then I don’t want to be with him, even if he just won the Pulitzer Prize.
I laughed, I cried, it was better than Barbra Streisand singing “Memories” from Cats. (See how I brought that back full circle? You thought I quit paying attention, didn’t you?) But seriously, I sort of want to make out with this girl. After reading Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, so will you.