Dating Big Bird

( 10 )

Overview

Ellen Franck isn't in love with Big Bird. After all, he's a big yellow Sesame Street character -- and she's an intelligent single woman with a fabulous job. On the other hand, Big Bird is looking like a better candidate for fatherhood every day: he's tall, affectionate, and steadily employed. And right now, for Ellen, thirty-five years old and dying to have a baby, almost any father will do.

In her hilarious and heartbreaking new novel, Laura Zigman, bestselling author of Animal...

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Dating Big Bird

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Overview

Ellen Franck isn't in love with Big Bird. After all, he's a big yellow Sesame Street character -- and she's an intelligent single woman with a fabulous job. On the other hand, Big Bird is looking like a better candidate for fatherhood every day: he's tall, affectionate, and steadily employed. And right now, for Ellen, thirty-five years old and dying to have a baby, almost any father will do.

In her hilarious and heartbreaking new novel, Laura Zigman, bestselling author of Animal Husbandry, explores what happens when the life we've chosen isn't that life we expected it to be. And at this point Ellen Franck is rethinking all her choices.

Mired in a relationship with a man who is better at brooding than breeding, sister to a woman who can't seem to stop having babies, and working under a boss who is about to have the baby shower of the decade, Ellen knows the path to motherhood is clear. All she has to do is leave her relationship, horrify her family, find an anonymous father, and become independently wealthy.

Piece of cake.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A page-turner...this astute novel explores -- hilariously -- the mind-set of pregnant woman, toddlerettes and the fashion world."
-- Mademoiselle

"Hilarious."
-- Glamour

"Keeps you hooked from the first line."
-- New York Post

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
This release from the author of the best-seller, Animal Husbandry, introduces readers to Ellen Franck, a successful single career woman whose one desire - a child of her own - throws her into the ever-growing ranks of the "reproductively challenged." Most booksellers found it "enjoyable" and called it "a great read." "If you liked The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing or Otherwise Engaged, you'll love this." A few dissenters criticized it as "mindless whining."
Tam
Laura Zigman's Dating Big Bird is a light, breezy read, enjoyable if unchallenging.
Wall Street Journal
Maria Dubuc
Dating Big Bird is funny and convincing enough to penetrate the cynicism of readers who still associate parenthood with " minivans and portacribs and strollers and enormous shoulder-strapped survival bags stuffed with toys and dolls and stickers and hundreds of little Ziploc Baggies".
USA Today
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her bestselling first book, Animal Husbandry, Zigman took a wry look at the mating rituals of young urbanites. Here she uses the same ironic tone to address the rituals of reproduction and one woman's anxiety about deciding whether to become a parent. At 35, Ellen Franck is bored with her glamorous job as marketing director for a fashion designer; she wants to have a baby. But her boyfriend, Malcolm, has made it clear that he doesn't want to be the father. An older, once-celebrated author who now teaches more than he writes, Malcolm takes Prozac to combat the depression he's wrestled with since Ben, his son from his first marriage, died of leukemia at age seven. Ellen cares for Malcolm despite his emotional remoteness and diminished sex drive (a side effect of the antidepressants), but her one true love is her three-year-old niece, Nicole, aka the Pickle. With Malcolm unlikely to change his mind, Ellen is forced to examine her insemination options, at one point kicking around the idea of co-parenting a child with Big Bird: "Big Bird would be the ideal parent. He's warm. He's affectionate. He's had a stable job for as long as I can remember." Will Ellen and her new best friend, Amy, who shares her "Pregnancy Fantasy Disorder," opt for artificial insemination and single motherhood? Settle for partners who'd make good fathers but less than satisfying husbands? Kidnap their nieces? Zigman's funny, conversational style draws the reader into Ellen's quest. Although the excessively happy ending is too pat to fit in with the wry tone of the rest of the book, the absorbing train of events and amusing dialogue make this a lark of a read. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385333412
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/6/2001
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 8.19 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Zigman grew up in Newtonville, Massachusetts, and spent ten years working in the book publishing industry in New York. Her pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. She lives in Washington, D.C.
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Read an Excerpt

It's not that I found Big Bird particularly attractive, it's just that I thought he would make a good parent.

I mean father.

Parent implied an extended relationship I wasn't necessarily banking on.

Not that I wouldn't have wanted an extended relationship. It's just that I was trying to be realistic. I was thirty-five, after all, and by then I knew the difference between expectation and desire; between love and lust; between boyfriends and fathers.

At least, I was supposed to know.

Contemplating impregnation by an eight-foot yellow bird is just one example of how carried away you can get when you want a child as much as I did.

You have to admit, though, that except for the feathers -- and the horizontally striped tights, and the bulging eyes, and that stupid pointy beak -- Big Bird would be the ideal parent:

He's warm.

He's affectionate.

He's had a stable job for almost as long as I can remember.

And you'd always know where to find him in case you needed anything later on.

Giving birth to a baby covered in a fuzzy down of yellow feathers would be a small price to pay for such exemplary paternal qualities.

My friend Amy, though, preferred Barney. She would cite his trademark song as evidence of his superior genes:

I love you. You love me. We're a happy family...

But when I'd point out how a happy family might be beyond our reach but a child wasn't -- she'd reluctantly agree.

Then she'd confess the true reason for her preference:

She liked purple better than yellow.

Telling people you want to have kids when you're not married doesn't exactly go over like The Red Balloon. It's not like everyone you know -- parents, married friends, single friends, boyfriends -- will be waiting in your own personal receiving line after some wedding or baby shower to congratulate you on having a few too many vodka martinis and transforming yourself into their vision of the living breathing female cliche.

But for once, you're not feeling like a cliche.

For once, you're not bemoaning your unmarried barren state.

Despite the fact that you are, quite obviously, drunk, you're in surprisingly good spirits.

In fact, you're feeling rather empowered.

Publicly expressing your desire to have a child is the first step to achieving it.

Obviously I understood that I would need to prepare for such a radical addition to my life -- to feather my nest, as it were.

First, I would need a bigger apartment to make room for a crib.

And a changing table.

And a Diaper Genie.

Two, I would need the crib.

And the changing table.

And the Diaper Genie.

Three, I would need more money.

So I could afford the bigger apartment.

And the nursery equipment.

Not to mention the nanny, since I'd have to keep working to pay for it all.

"Aren't you forgetting something?" Amy would ask.

I'd stare at her blankly.

Crib.

Changing table.

Diaper Genie.

Bigger apartment.

Nanny.

More money.

And then it would dawn on me.

"A stroller."

"I see," she'd say, doubling over and slapping her leg. "So you're still planning on reproducing asexually."

For a while, I wasn't planning on reproducing at all. I thought I might just kidnap my niece and spare myself all the trouble and aggravation:

Why risk having a child you might not like when there's already an existing child you adore?

At first, my older sister, Lynn, was entertained by such displays of my passionate aunthood. Then, as the first year passed and moved into the second, and Nicole -- "the Pickle" -- became more and more of an animal, Lynn began to really latch on to the idea.

"You can have her," she'd say, staring at the floor where the screeching wailing flailing fit-throwing beast-in-a-diaper had thrown herself down in protest over an enforced nap.

But each display of histrionics only made me covet her more.

She's an animal, I'd swoon. But she's my animal.

Not that I really considered stealing her. I just liked to borrow her sometimes. Take the baby-idea out for a little reality test-drive when I went to visit her.

Pushing the stroller through the park, taking her for a ride in the family Jeep, dragging her kicking and screaming through the supermarket when she should have been eating or napping, I'd beam at passersby with the pride and bliss of a new mother.

"She's got her father's temperament," I'd say, and shrug blamelessly.

Which was true.

My brother-in-law always gets cranky when he's hungry and tired.

It was the Pickle who first opened the door to the possibilities of Big Bird as a husband and father and made me wonder whether I should, in my next relationship (if I ever had a next relationship), consider going against type (tall, dark, and withholding) in favor of something new and different (yellow, feathered, and friendly).

She and Lynn and my brother-in-law Paul had driven down from Maine to New York that Labor Day weekend for a wedding at the Waldorf, and the Saturday afternoon before the ceremony they brought her downtown to my apartment on West Thirteenth Street for her sleepover. I'd spent weeks preparing for our big night together, and before they all arrived, I checked my weekend inventory one last time.

M&M's.

Waffles.

Library books.

Barney, Blue's Clues, and Teletubbies videotapes.

A pair of platform sneakers and a pair of fuzzy Cat in the Hat slippers wrapped inside their Payless boxes.

And three dresses from Baby Gap.

Lynn came up first while Paul parked the car with Nicole.

"I have to pee this minute or I'm going to explode," she said, the desperation rising in her voice. "I'm starting to think I should wear those adult diapers because I never get to go." She gave me a quick peck on the cheek before dropping the pile of bedding and clothing and Barbie dolls and teddy bears that she'd brought up from the car on the couch in the living room. She headed toward the foyer, stopped short, then turned back to me in confusion. "Where's the--?"

"The potty?" I pointed behind her to the little hallway on the opposite end of the little foyer. "It's that way."

I followed her -- forever the younger sister, trailing behind -- to the bathroom door, which she left partially open. I heard the seat cover go up, then a sigh of relief.

"You can come in," she said through the open door. "Everyone else does. I have no modesty left. In fact, I wonder if I can still pee when no one's watching me. I've probably developed some pathological need to go to the bathroom in front of people."

When she'd finished flushing and washing her hands, she came back out. Her jeans were still unzipped, and I could see the elastic band of her underwear just below her belly button as we walked back together to the living room. "I'm sorry," she said, starting to zipper herself before changing her mind again. "I haven't worn these pants in months, but they're still tight. I thought eight hours in the car might stretch them out, but clearly I was wrong."

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

It's not that I found Big Bird particularly attractive, it's just that I thought he would make a good parent.

I mean father.

Parent implied an extended relationship I wasn't necessarily banking on.

Not that I wouldn't have wanted an extended relationship. It's just that I was trying to be realistic. I was thirty-five, after all, and by then I knew the difference between expectation and desire; between love and lust; between boyfriends and fathers.

At least, I was supposed to know.

Contemplating impregnation by an eight-foot yellow bird is just one example of how carried away you can get when you want a child as much as I did.

You have to admit, though, that except for the feathers--and the horizontally striped tights, and the bulging eyes, and that stupid pointy beak--Big Bird would be the ideal parent:

He's warm.

He's affectionate.

He's had a stable job for almost as long as I can remember.

And you'd always know where to find him in case you needed anything later on.

Giving birth to a baby covered in a fuzzy down of yellow feathers would be a small price to pay for such exemplary paternal qualities.

My friend Amy, though, preferred Barney. She would cite his trademark song as evidence of his superior genes:

I love you. You love me. We're a happy family...

But when I'd point out how a happy family might be beyond our reach but a child wasn't--she'd reluctantly agree.

Then she'd confess the true reason for her preference:

She liked purple better than yellow.

Telling people you want to have kids when you're not married doesn't exactly go over like The Red Balloon. It's not like everyone you know--parents, married friends, single friends, boyfriends--will be waiting in your own personal receiving line after some wedding or baby shower to congratulate you on having a few too many vodka martinis and transforming yourself into their vision of the living breathing female cliche.

But for once, you're not feeling like a cliche.

For once, you're not bemoaning your unmarried barren state.

Despite the fact that you are, quite obviously, drunk, you're in surprisingly good spirits.

In fact, you're feeling rather empowered.

Publicly expressing your desire to have a child is the first step to achieving it.

Obviously I understood that I would need to prepare for such a radical addition to my life--to feather my nest, as it were.

First, I would need a bigger apartment to make room for a crib.

And a changing table.

And a Diaper Genie.

Two, I would need the crib.

And the changing table.

And the Diaper Genie.

Three, I would need more money.

So I could afford the bigger apartment.

And the nursery equipment.

Not to mention the nanny, since I'd have to keep working to pay for it all.

"Aren't you forgetting something?" Amy would ask.

I'd stare at her blankly.

Crib.

Changing table.

Diaper Genie.

Bigger apartment.

Nanny.

More money.

And then it would dawn on me.

"A stroller."

"I see," she'd say, doubling over and slapping her leg. "So you're still planning on reproducing asexually."

For a while, I wasn't planning on reproducing at all. I thought I might just kidnap my niece and spare myself all the trouble and aggravation:

Why risk having a child you might not like when there's already an existing child you adore?

At first, my older sister, Lynn, was entertained by such displays of my passionate aunthood. Then, as the first year passed and moved into the second, and Nicole--"the Pickle"--became more and more of an animal, Lynn began to really latch on to the idea.

"You can have her," she'd say, staring at the floor where the screeching wailing flailing fit-throwing beast-in-a-diaper had thrown herself down in protest over an enforced nap.

But each display of histrionics only made me covet her more.

She's an animal, I'd swoon. But she's my animal.

Not that I really considered stealing her. I just liked to borrow her sometimes. Take the baby-idea out for a little reality test-drive when I went to visit her.

Pushing the stroller through the park, taking her for a ride in the family Jeep, dragging her kicking and screaming through the supermarket when she should have been eating or napping, I'd beam at passersby with the pride and bliss of a new mother.

"She's got her father's temperament," I'd say, and shrug blamelessly.

Which was true.

My brother-in-law always gets cranky when he's hungry and tired.

It was the Pickle who first opened the door to the possibilities of Big Bird as a husband and father and made me wonder whether I should, in my next relationship (if I ever had a next relationship), consider going against type (tall, dark, and withholding) in favor of something new and different (yellow, feathered, and friendly).

She and Lynn and my brother-in-law Paul had driven down from Maine to New York that Labor Day weekend for a wedding at the Waldorf, and the Saturday afternoon before the ceremony they brought her downtown to my apartment on West Thirteenth Street for her sleepover. I'd spent weeks preparing for our big night together, and before they all arrived, I checked my weekend inventory one last time.

M&M's.

Waffles.

Library books.

Barney, Blue's Clues, and Teletubbies videotapes.

A pair of platform sneakers and a pair of fuzzy Cat in the Hat slippers wrapped inside their Payless boxes.

And three dresses from Baby Gap.

Lynn came up first while Paul parked the car with Nicole.

"I have to pee this minute or I'm going to explode," she said, the desperation rising in her voice. "I'm starting to think I should wear those adult diapers because I never get to go." She gave me a quick peck on the cheek before dropping the pile of bedding and clothing and Barbie dolls and teddy bears that she'd brought up from the car on the couch in the living room. She headed toward the foyer, stopped short, then turned back to me in confusion. "Where's the--?"

"The potty?" I pointed behind her to the little hallway on the opposite end of the little foyer. "It's that way."

I followed her--forever the younger sister, trailing behind--to the bathroom door, which she left partially open. I heard the seat cover go up, then a sigh of relief.

"You can come in," she said through the open door. "Everyone else does. I have no modesty left. In fact, I wonder if I can still pee when no one's watching me. I've probably developed some pathological need to go to the bathroom in front of people."

When she'd finished flushing and washing her hands, she came back out. Her jeans were still unzipped, and I could see the elastic band of her underwear just below her belly button as we walked back together to the living room. "I'm sorry," she said, starting to zipper herself before changing her mind again. "I haven't worn these pants in months, but they're still tight. I thought eight hours in the car might stretch them out, but clearly I was wrong."



Copyright© 2000 by Laura Zigman
Read More Show Less

Introduction

The discussion topics inside are intended to enhance your reading of Laura Zigman's Dating Big Bird.

Read More Show Less

Foreword

1. Why does Ellen take so long to come to a decision about single motherhood? What are her biggest concerns?

2. What are the most important reasons that Ellen and Amy want to have children? How much of it has to do with what they want, as opposed to what society tells them they should be?

3. Will Ellen's decision to raise a baby on her own make her a more committed mother because she is overcoming additional obstacles?

4. What does Malcolm's pain and loss after his son's death tell us about the emotional price of parenthood?

5. Why does Ellen put up with Malcolm's inability to be intimate with her for so long? What is she getting out of the relationship instead?

6. How do Ellen and Amy's views of parenthood compare to your own? Do you relate to them or not?

7. Ellen makes assumptions about Karen's ability to be a good mother, based on Karen's personality and work routine. What does this say about Ellen's perceptions of motherhood?

8. Should Ellen find other things to fulfill her while she's trying to decide about becoming a mother — or does her research fill some of that void?

9. How do you think Amy's solution will turn out? What, in the long run, would make her happier — a baby within an ambiguous marriage, or a baby by herself?

10. What is it about Ellen's relationship with "The Pickle" (her niece Nicole) that is so satisfying? Is it because she isn't a mother herself that she feels so much for The Pickle — or not?

11. How do Ellen's reflections on motherhood affect her relationship with her own parents?

12. What is your opinion of "Mammo"? Does it apply to you? People youknow? Do you wish it did? Would you wear it as a necklace?

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

The discussion topics inside are intended to enhance your reading of Laura Zigman's Dating Big Bird.

1. Why does Ellen take so long to come to a decision about single motherhood? What are her biggest concerns?

2. What are the most important reasons that Ellen and Amy want to have children? How much of it has to do with what they want, as opposed to what society tells them they should be?

3. Will Ellen's decision to raise a baby on her own make her a more committed mother because she is overcoming additional obstacles?

4. What does Malcolm's pain and loss after his son's death tell us about the emotional price of parenthood?

5. Why does Ellen put up with Malcolm's inability to be intimate with her for so long? What is she getting out of the relationship instead?

6. How do Ellen and Amy's views of parenthood compare to your own? Do you relate to them or not?

7. Ellen makes assumptions about Karen's ability to be a good mother, based on Karen's personality and work routine. What does this say about Ellen's perceptions of motherhood?

8. Should Ellen find other things to fulfill her while she's trying to decide about becoming a mother -- or does her research fill some of that void?

9. How do you think Amy's solution will turn out? What, in the long run, would make her happier -- a baby within an ambiguous marriage, or a baby by herself?

10. What is it about Ellen's relationship with "The Pickle" (her niece Nicole) that is so satisfying? Is it because she isn't a mother herself that she feels so much for The Pickle -- or not?

11. How do Ellen's reflections on motherhood affect her relationship with her own parents?

12. What is your opinion of "Mammo"? Does it apply to you? People you know? Do you wish it did? Would you wear it as a necklace?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(7)

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2014

    The eat sesame street rp(ess)

    Welcome to the alphipe! Here you can be a cat and daily hunting patrols will be sent out to put members of sesame street with the voles and mice. We also raid clans because we are evil. We are hidden i the woods so it would be unrealistoc to find us. Positions next res!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2008

    A fun read

    Fun lightheared read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2008

    Big Bird Could Do Better

    While this book is a quick read and can keep you somewhat entertained, it's rather simplistic. I saw the movie 'Someone Like You,' based on Zigman's first novel, 'Animal Husbandry' and was glad I didn't read the book. I wasn't really impressed with the characters or the storyline. And I'm not very impressed by the characters or the storyline in this new novel either. You may think it's because of my male perspective, but I love romantic comedies. These, I don't. I can see Ashley Judd narrating this current story just like the previous one. And it doesn't make it any better. Anyway, this is a good read for you if you like simplism. And if you like that I just made up my own word (simplism) then you'll love that Zigman's main character creates her own mind-numbing word, too. Just like creating a 'theory' in Animal Husbandry. One more criticism before I go: the author spoonfeeds the readers with details that aren't necessary and implied. For example, when the main character's boyfriend says something, we don't need an explanation of why he said it. We know why. We're familiar with his background. We get it. Just move on with the story. Sorry to be so negative. It's a great story if you don't care about what you read and don't have a lot of time to concentrate. It's quick and simple. Although so is microwaving meat, but you wouldn't pick that over a charbroiled steak, would you? :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2002

    A fun, well-written, clever read

    No, this book won't win the Pulitzer. But if you're looking for some intelligent modern fiction, you will really enjoy 'Dating Big Bird.'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2002

    A great book!

    Dating Big Bird is an excellent novel! I think that someone, someway, can relate to it. Me, being an 18 year old aunt to 5 neices and a nephew, knows how she felt to love her 'pickle' as much as she did. At one moment, it's very heartwarming, then it goes to quite sad, to absolutley hilarious! Every woman should read this!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2001

    Wouldn't anyone want to be mother?

    This story makes you feel that being a mother is the world's best thing that ever happen to woman.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2000

    WONDERFUL READ

    Laura Zigman brings to light the issues facing most single middle-aged women. When will I get married? Will I get married? When will I have kids? Will I have kids? When will my career take off? Will my career take off? Why can't I just date Big Bird!? A hiliariuos, heart-warming read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2000

    Every woman would love to have a 'Big Bird' in their life.

    Dating Big Bird brings the issue of the idea of a single thirty-something woman comtemplating of having a child of her own. The main character Ellen has come to a point in her life that many woman around are having children and seem very pleased with their lives. But poor Ellen is struggled with a love-hate relationship with her fashion career, her 'I don't know if he is coming or going' relationship with her boyfriend. Still she see herself as good mother through the realtionship with her three-year old niece, Nicole. In all, wouldn't every woman love to be a relationship with a big, cuddly, friendly, tall being that will love you no matter what.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2000

    compelling - a cut above

    zigman knows how to draw the reader in amd she does it with such wit and style, it's difficult to resist! I wanted to feel cyncical about thi sowman who felt her clock ticking, but in the end I rooted for her and was glad. her dialogue is crisp and efficient, and there are some real painful and touching moments within this summer page-turner. I for one an eager to see what she turns he hand to

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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