The Club Gets Preppy

Before we get down to business, an important Corrections Corner:

It has come to my attention that some members (*cough* DR *cough*) feel recent posts have inaccurately portrayed them as “weird.” To which I reply: since when is that a bad thing? I revealed in the last post, dear reader, that I was enamored by a six-year-old’s story about talking animals that want to transform into breakfast items. Hardly what the grand dames would consider appropriate conversation material.

It amazes me how badass women, myself included, still give credence to what is considered “normal” and “weird.” Why, when confronted with a flawless Instagram story or a gaggle of women who seem to know the right thing to say, do we suddenly feel like the girl in middle school who isn’t wearing the right Abercrombie top?

Nothing could have induced this feeling more than our latest read, Prep. Curtis: you took me back to places I didn’t want to go. I’m not sure I’m happy about it. But here we are.

Sittenfeld’s first book received high praised, and you can see why: she manages to capture essential truths about our world, and ourselves, and place it alongside the putrid reality of high school seamlessly. Several of us had trouble getting into it, because these characters, especially Lee, can be so unlikable. But then–who actually likes teenagers?

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Following Lee’s journey through Ault, the prep school she imagined would transform her life, stirred memories I was convinced I left in the Comb-Over (we called our high school’s renovated entryway The Comb-Over because it resembles a certain President’s hairstyle. If only we knew).  Lee’s desire to connect, most evident in her obsession with knowing the intimate details of her peers’ lives, is uncomfortable and understandable. She wants to see others, and be seen in return. As teenagers, we all wanted to be understood (cue eye rolls and door slamming). But at Ault, an insular world ruled by byzantine social codes, you have to conform to be seen.

How does high school pan out for Lee? Not so great, but she makes it out in one piece, which is all most of us can ask for. As she narrates her high school years to us from some distance in time, it’s clear that the issues she had developing connections at Ault translated into adulthood. As a narrator, she’s cool, and while she reveals much of her inner thoughts, you get the sense that these are shared with some resistance. There’s more to Lee Fiora than she’s willing to let on.

Adulthood has a way of relieving some of the inhibitors that kept you pressed against the gymnasium wall at the school dance, because you quickly learn that no one care as much as you think they do. You learn how to spot your people, and allow those who bring you down to drift away.  I’m beyond lucky to know the members of The Drinking Club, who are some of the most generous women out there, with their time, energy, and love. They are all unabashedly themselves, and I love them more for it (but DR the most. Obvi).

And to demonstrate this, I thought I would share some of our “weird” quotes from our last gathering, because: a) they’re genius, and b) I don’t actually know how we made it from one subject to the next. But we covered a lot of ground.

  • “European men know what’s up with pants”: LL and AM vacationed in Iceland and Ireland and found a lot to admire in the scenery. Never underestimate the power of a well-constructed pocket.
  • “You just boil them alive”: The Donner Party we are not. MV instead has enlightened us to the art of cooking lobster after recent adventures with le boyfriend in California. And has maybe inspired a future Drinking Club activity?
  • “It’s either romantic, or where you plan a murder”: where else would this be, but Maine. DD traveled there for a half marathon and anticipated that she would be smitten with New England, as maybe a gorgeous fisherman. We’ll hand the second part of that statement over to Stephen King.
  • “I want to skin her and wear her–relax, it’s a Real Housewives quote”: I don’t know why LL shared this with us. I will say: you can’t go wrong adding a little Bethenny or Rinna into a conversation.

 

What else is new with The Drinking Club?

  • Wedding bells are ringing for LL, who has asked us to clear our calendars for spring nupitals in the South. Congrats!!!
  • Expect to see DR in the next Free Solo documentary, as she conquered the National Parks and did not fall off a cliff. (We’ll resist the I-Told-You-So. For now.)
  • MV is killing it at a new job, and will now be supplying us with bathing suits for life.
  • We thought we lost MM and AM there for a minute. But then MV and I found them on Independent Bookstore Day, when we ventured to Books Are Magic and learned just how long it takes to make a quiche.

 

Until next time,

EV

 

 

The Club Atones For Its Sins

A few weeks ago, on a Monday afternoon, I received a text from AM:

“I just did a terrible thing and I need to admit it to someone. Are you willing to receive this information?”

The worst thing I could think of was that she hadn’t scheduled enough episodes of her beloved Jersey Shore: Family Vacation at work (she’s personally responsible for all of your reality show binges). In reality, it was much worse.

AM: “I just bought several books from Barnes & Noble because they were cheaper than at the independent store I was originally going to buy them from.”

THE HORROR.

I’m kidding. Kind of. My job in publishing puts me in regular contact with independent booksellers. They are some of the most dedicated, passionate, and hardworking people you will ever meet, and they do it all for the joy of putting the right book in the right hands at the right time. I try to buy most, if not all, of my books from independent bookstores. And I encourage others, especially the club, to do the same. And by encourage, I mean I judge them, harder than my high school English teacher who wrote “no shit” on our papers, when they go anywhere but an indie bookstore for their next read.

AM needed to atone for her sins. So we (AM, DR, MV, and E) gathered on a sticky Saturday afternoon to visit one of the tri-state area’s best independent bookstores: Little City Books. But first: we went for brunch. Obviously.

 

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Over cocktails and chorizo omelettes, we covered a variety of topics that ladies who brunch normally discuss: why Dr. Pimple Popper’s YouTube videos are better than her TLC series; why cats are literally the worst (it’s been scientifically proven); and the horrors of wisdom teeth removal. We have stomachs made of Teflon.

It wasn’t all talk about the things middle school boys gush over in the cafeteria. We (eventually) made our way back to books. MV is plodding her way through Alias Grace, though she’s giving up if the murder doesn’t happen in the next 50 pages. And AM is making it her mission to read more books this year. She recently moved in with MM, and with it, her commute time was cut in half. What is one to do when the travel time you relied on for reading is now gone? No seriously, we’re asking. The call of Netflix can be too strong to resist at home (as I write this, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is beckoning me. The struggle. Is. Real.)

 

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A short walk from the restaurant found us browsing the floor-to-ceiling shelves of Little City. The tiny storefront packs a punch, housing ample selections of literary fiction, essays collections, sci-fi, and thrillers. Not to mention a capital A-dorable children’s section, filled with classic picture books and the friendliest bunch of stuffed animals.

 

 

DR somehow managed to exit the store without a book (maybe the cats she babysat got to her; see link above). AM walked away with a copy of The Thorn Birds, a 1970s Australian family drama set in the outback (TBD on whether everyone’s friendly neighborhood Wolverine makes an appearance). MV purchased When Katie Met Cassidy, a charming rom-com that pairs well with bottomless mimosas, about two kick-ass female lawyers trying to figure out whether they belong together. And your narrator picked up a copy of Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld’s modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Because when in doubt, always choose Austen.

So, has AM been absolved? I think she’s forgiven. TDB on Sylvie’s opinion, but she can be spiteful. The lesson here, dear reader: visit your independent bookstore. They value readers. And we will judge you if you don’t.

 

–E