What do you suppose I like about it?
22 March 2010
I often think the phrase "what do you suppose I like about it?"* when I finish a book which I enjoyed, but didn't expect to. I had this thought last week when I blew through Lisa Scottoline's collection of short newspaper columns titled Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog. Let's run down the case for why I shouldn't have liked this book:
1. Scottoline's target audience is probably at least a decade older than I am, and can likely chuckle along with her stories about idiot ex-husbands (she calls them Thing One and Thing Two), grown children, and midlife womanly issues;**
2. She likes dogs. I do not.
3. She's perky. I am not.
So, you may be thinking, why did I pick this book up? Well, friends and neighbors, the title charmed me. And once I started reading it, I got sucked in by Scottoline's admittedly snappy writing*** and three-page chapters. I'll admit I was completely amused by her essay "Body Parts," in which she explains that while men are busy trying not to check out women's chests, women are busy trying not to obviously check out ring fingers. She describes one exchange where she was having a conversation with a charming man and they were both desperately trying not to look where they wanted to look. And this is how that ended:
"Then he kept talking and being more charming and getting handsomer by the minute, and I kept wondering, is he married or not? I kept waiting for the right moment to sneak a peek at his ring finger, but I knew he would see my eyes look down because he was staring so fixedly into my pupils, because he wasn't allowed to sneak a peek at my chest. I knew I wasn't supposed to reduce him to a finger anymore than he was supposed to reduce me to a chest, and for a time, we were almost in danger of getting to know one another...
He turned away first, and I got my answer. Married. So I wasn't interested.
Then he got his answer. 34A. So he wasn't interested." (p. 6.)
Sure, it's cliche. It's also kinda funny. The whole book is that way, and I'm not ashamed to say I read it all.
*I found this phrase in the Jean Kerr book Please Don't Eat the Daisies, in which an illustration of Jean and her husband staring at a monstrosity of a house is captioned, "What do you suppose we like about it?"
**At one point Scottoline describes her experiences with menopause and hot flashes, and how they make her feel enjoyably tingly and warm. Now, this is where I have to draw the line at good-natured acceptance of womanly life changes. For various and sundry health reasons we are not going to go into here, I have experienced temporary and premature menopause, and hot flashes are NOT ENJOYABLE. They are horrible and they wake you up about twelve times a night and every middle-aged woman who is cranky deserves to be so.
***Scottoline is better known as a bestselling mystery author, so she knows how to move her prose along.