Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad

Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad

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by Bob Morris
     
 

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What would you do if your eighty-year-old father dragged you into his hell-bent hunt for new love?

A few months after the death of his wife, Joe Morris, an affable, eccentric octogenarian, needs a replacement. If he can get a new hip, he figures, why not a new wife? At first, his skeptical son Bob (whose own love life is a disaster) is appalled. But suspicion

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Overview

What would you do if your eighty-year-old father dragged you into his hell-bent hunt for new love?

A few months after the death of his wife, Joe Morris, an affable, eccentric octogenarian, needs a replacement. If he can get a new hip, he figures, why not a new wife? At first, his skeptical son Bob (whose own love life is a disaster) is appalled. But suspicion quickly turns to enthusiasm as he finds himself trolling the personals, screening prospects, chaperoning, and offering etiquette tips to his needy father. Assisted Loving is a warm, witty, and wacky chronicle of a father, a son, and their year of dating dangerously.

Editorial Reviews

Vanity Fair
“Mercilessly funny.”
New York Post
“Hilarious”
New York Times Book Review
“The real love story here is between father and son. . . . A funny, good-hearted story.”
Time Out New York
“Funny...tender new memoir”
James Poniewozik
There are a lot of lessons learned and circles completed and people learning what they realize they knew all along in Assisted Loving, and despite Morris's pre-emptive self-consciousness—"What is this, Dad? Tuesdays with Morris?" he asks at one point—it can be a little pat. But then, part of what this funny, good-hearted story says about romance is that, at any age, it comes in part through the willingness to be unembarrassedly corny. And maybe through some well-meaning meddling. Nothing says love, this book tells us, like a good strong push.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Morris, a writer for the New York Times, mixes humor and social commentary in this courageous book, revealing the bitter grief of his mother's death and the joyous re-emergence into life of Joe, his widowed father. Hapless and lacking in social graces, the author's 79-year-old father, a former New York judge for the state department of motor vehicles, loves off-color jokes and appreciates the late pop icon Dinah Shore. Morris, a lonely gay journalist, acts as senior adviser and moral chaperone to his dad's girlfriends, who include lovely Edie, low-carb Ann, nutty Rita, egghead Roz and serviceable Gracie. Never losing sight of the complex relationship between aging parents and adult children, the commitment-phobic son conquers some key intimacy issues to wade into a love affair with a man, while learning tolerance and openness from his father's juggling of female companions. Ultimately, the inspirational memoir captures all the needed laughs and emotions that go with love and life in the waning years of parent-child bonding. (June)

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Kirkus Reviews
A tale of father-and-son bonding from New York Times Sunday Styles columnist Morris. The author was 44 when his mother passed away; his father Joe was nearing 80. Bob wanted to mourn and celebrate his mother, then move forward with his life. Joe wanted to do the same, but to him, moving forward meant finding himself a babe. Bob didn't initially approve; he thought it might be a bit too soon for Dad to be dating. But he soon found himself sucked into his father's quest and eventually spent an inordinate amount of time (successfully) procuring women for this elderly social butterfly. Bob began writing a column about Joe's hunt for love, and the dating pool grew exponentially. What with all of Bob's aiding and abetting, father and son grew closer than ever, leading to a happy (and schmaltzy) conclusion. Morris, who performed a truncated version of this book as a monologue at an off-Broadway theater in 2006, is a clever linguist; at one point he notes of his new boyfriend, "I like the Irish. Jack was gorgeously, redheadedly Irish." Such turns of phrase, however, seem to work better on the stage than the page, and the Bob and Joe story is more fit for a brief performance-or an even briefer newspaper column-than a full-length book. The Morrises would be an enjoyable odd couple to have over for dinner, but they're the kind of folks you'd forget about immediately after they left-the same can be said for this sweet but fluffy outing. Contains moments of charm, but offers little in the way of originality, insight or resonance. Agent: Jay Mandel/William Morris Agency

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061374135
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/02/2009
Series:
P.S. Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
982,108
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Assisted Loving
True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad

Chapter One

Grave Situation

It's a month after my mother has died, October 2002. My father and I have just pulled into the Mount Ararat Cemetery in Farmingdale, on the flat south shore of Long Island. We pass through iron gates under a Star of David and cruise past row after row of headstones that all look alike. We park and get out of his silver Toyota Avalon, slam the doors, and start walking. Dad is moving slowly. He needs another hip replacement. Not to mention a dry cleaner. His yellow cardigan is a fruit salad of stains. But I have to say, even if his walk is a little gimpy, he looks pretty good for someone close to eighty. Smooth tawny skin, silky silvery hair. Bodes well for me, I guess. Neither of us knows exactly where my mother's grave is. And men don't ask directions, even in cemeteries. So we wander, two lost boys, sneakers on grass, silently passing endless rows of the dead.

We finally find her between some Cohens and Blums. Ethel Morris, the footstone reads, that's all. Well, she was a simple woman. A librarian with modest desires—a comfortable pair of shoes, the occasional bouquet of flowers on a holiday, a sing-along in the car, a half-price coupon for ice-cream cake from the supermarket. She wanted to see her husband and two sons happy even as she struggled in the last years of her life.

We stare at her name. It could be a moment to talk about her, to talk about any regret we might feel about not doing our best for her as she withered. Instead, Dad starts to hum, softly at first, then loud enough to drown out the roar of cars on the nearbyparkways. "I miss singing with your mother," he says. "Even when we ran out of things to say to each other, we always had something to sing."

"I know," I say. "I know."

"This is one of her top ten favorites. Every time I come here I'm going to do another one just for her."

Then he clears his throat, and sings to her grave.

I'll be loving you
Always,
With a love that's true
Always.

He sings the whole song—slowly, wistfully—with white eyebrows arched upward, nostrils flaring, in a sweet crooner's tenor. I can feel my throat burning—the feeling you get when you're about to cry, and I swallow hard to stop it. I would never want to cry in front of my father. That would be so uncomfortable, I tell myself.

Not for just a year,
But always.

Now he's finished, and the sound of traffic and birds takes over while we stand, staring down at her, unsure what else to do. Some grass, palest green, is starting to sprout from the soil we shoveled in front of a small crowd last month on top of her coffin. It was a rainy funeral. The rabbi had put black ribbons on our lapels and we had to rip them—a gesture of traditional Jewish mourning. Was Dad looking more stricken or relieved as he stood there, the chief mourner? What about me? I admit to having felt, even three days after her death, a sense of exoneration. She had been sick for ten years with a rare, debilitating blood condition. Dad did what he could for her, driving her to doctors, helping her into the car, sticking around when his impulse was to flee the overwhelming sadness. But in the end, he was inadequate. And while I related to his need to keep enjoying life even as she suffered, I also resented him for it. My big brother, Jeff, resented him even more than I did. Dad wouldn't help her with her pills. He insisted on being out of the house for hours for bridge games, yet he wouldn't hire the help that would make our lives easier. He told me she was a lost cause. True as it was, it sounded so cruel. So there's an acrid, unspoken guilt we share now, here at the place where she rests. I stand over her, reading her name on the new bronze plaque in the ground.

Ethel Morris

We shift on our feet, a father and son with everything to talk about and nothing to say to each other. Then Dad thinks of something.

"You know," he says, "I always liked this cemetery."

"Oh yeah?" I say.

Actually, I'm thinking as I look around that I don't care for this place at all. And I also don't like myself for thinking such a thing. But lately, this kind of snobbery has started taking up the parking space in my head where nicer thoughts should be. I can't stop myself from looking at this cemetery where my mother is finally resting in peace (from my father and me) and applying the same standards that I do to a hotel or restaurant. I think to myself that the location of this cemetery isn't genius. It's all wrong, in fact, sandwiched between two noisy roads. Who needs that? And the headstones of this cemetery are too much alike—new slabs of polished marble that aren't aged enough to have historical charm. They're all as evenly spaced apart and repetitive as the undistinguished homes in the nearby split-level development where I grew up, homes I was accustomed to as a child but now find embarrassing in their modesty. Some cemeteries are poetic and overgrown, with pretty hills, water views, and famously depressed poets buried beneath towering pines and elms. What does this cemetery have? Easy access to the Southern State Parkway?

"I have to tell you something important," Dad says.

"What's that?"

"There's a plot for you here, Bobby. I bought it years ago on my way to my Tuesday tennis game. So now you know you can be buried here with your mother and me when your time comes."

Assisted Loving
True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad
. Copyright © by Bob Morris. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

A frequent contributor to the New York Times Sunday Styles section, Bob Morris has been a commentator for NPR's All Things Considered and a contributor to the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Travel + Leisure. He also collaborated with Diahann Carroll on her award-winning memoir, The Legs Are the Last to Go.

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Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Phyllis_M More than 1 year ago
Nice story abound father and son connection. The father's search for a new wife fits with my personal observations of men who were very happily married and just do not want to be alone after the death of the spouse. The selfish responses of the children to keep the parent in mourning also fits. The search was amusing but not laugh out loud funny. The son's sole searching in his fifties and painfully revealing his insecurities got old. Too bad it took him so long to grow up but better late than never Sadly I can't recommend this book to anyone. Not bad enough to put down and not good enough to recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This chronicle of the dating habits of son and father is a real charmer. Although both have their faults, the reader ends up hoping that each successfully finds romance. Besides focusing on their romantic adventures, the book also explores the evolving relationship between father and son. You get a real sense of their personalities. Very well written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a little gem. It's laugh out loud funny, very heart warming and you'll find yourself loving the dad. It was truly and endearing story and it kept me interested the entire book.