Dollar Daze: The Bottom Dollar Girls in Love

Dollar Daze: The Bottom Dollar Girls in Love

by Karin Gillespie, Carrington MacDuffie
     
 

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Moons and Junes are the flavors of the month for the Bottom Dollar Girls, whose sudden fondness for wooing and cooing has them in a Dollar Daze. From the night of the Sweetheart Dance, love begins blooming all over Cayboo Creek. Attalee, soda jerk at the Bottom Dollar Emporium, and her beau Dooley seem headed for the altar via Thrill Hill. But Elizabeth is pining for…  See more details below

Overview

Moons and Junes are the flavors of the month for the Bottom Dollar Girls, whose sudden fondness for wooing and cooing has them in a Dollar Daze. From the night of the Sweetheart Dance, love begins blooming all over Cayboo Creek. Attalee, soda jerk at the Bottom Dollar Emporium, and her beau Dooley seem headed for the altar via Thrill Hill. But Elizabeth is pining for her newlywed days when she felt more like a wife than a mother, while widowed Mavis has been up nights nursing a case of loneliness. Not so for newspaper woman Birdie. "I'm glad my dating days are done," she claims, and Gracie Tobias agrees that she, too, is "done with romance." They couldn't be more wrong.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Things are abuzz at the Bottom Dollar Emporium, Cayboo Creek, Ga., as the girls (returning from A Dollar Short for their third outing) find that love is in the air, despite their advanced years and protestations to the contrary. Attalee Gaines, Georgia's answer to Golden Girls' Estelle Getty, is sparking up a storm with her main squeeze Dooley Prichard. Mavis Loomis and Birdie Murdock have both said their man-hunting days are over, as has Mrs. Tobias (her first name Gracie is rarely used). Each lady finds someone to interest her, though: in what is hardly a surprise, Mavis and Birdie find the same man, who plays them off against each other and nearly spoils their lifelong friendship. In another nonshocker, Mrs. Tobias, for all her culture, discovers she now finds "suitable" gentlemen boring and falls for a blue-collar dream boat. Meanwhile, young mother Elizabeth loses her uncle Ray, but gains husband Timothy's understanding about combining work and motherhood. As the ladies find, again unsurprisingly, that it is never too late to discover more about yourself and that no one is more important than your friends, stereotypes and caricatures give way to affecting characterizations. Literary Guild and Doubleday alternates; 7-city author tour. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
It's not just dollars that have the Bottom Dollar Girls in a daze. From soda jerk Attalee to newspaperwoman Birdie to mom Elizabeth, they're all after romance. With a seven-city tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The love bug has bitten the Bottom Dollar Girls. The Bottom Dollar Girls, who have already traipsed through two entertaining novels (A Dollar Short, 2005, etc.), are a group of Southern widows who speak their minds and who don't let things like age keep them down. Mavis owns the Bottom Dollar Emporium, where the ladies hang out. Attalee is the 86-year-old soda jerk. Mrs. Tobias, 63, is a proper widow. Birdie is Mavis's best friend from high school, class of '59. And honorary member Elizabeth is their young friend, who has recently had a baby with her adoring husband, Timothy-Mrs. Tobias's son. Just as Mavis, Birdie and Mrs. Tobias have settled into the single life, Attalee reinvents the rules by falling head-over-heels in love with the 78-year-old stud Dooley. Suddenly the other three decide that maybe, just maybe, life will be a little sweeter with a man around. Trouble is, Birdie and Mavis come to this conclusion at the same time when former high-school hottie Brew arrives back in town. The women become no longer best friends but brutal competitors. Mrs. Tobias finds herself falling in love with an adventuresome "duct doctor," a blue-collar man, much to the dismay of her mother-in-law, who believes the man is a gold-digger. And Elizabeth is struggling with her own man: He wants her to be a stay-at-home mom, something that is making her crazy. As a class reunion and Attalee's wedding day approach, tension is thick in Cayboo Creek. Sweet and amusing tale of romance and lust for the older crowd. Doubleday Book Club/Literary Guild alternate selection
From the Publisher
"Hilarious and endearing...Gillespie's humorous style will have readers hooting out loud, and her cheeky characters will have them coming back for more! Dollar Daze is a one-of-a-kind find, a must read for young and old alike!"

— Janean Nusz, The Road to Romance

"Gillespie writes with such conviction that readers are thrust right into Cayboo Creek and the lives of the Bottom Dollar Girls. Readers will be chuckling over crazy man-getting antics, sighing at the complexity of life, love and matrimony and maybe even shedding a tear over the heartbreak and tragedy. This novel is charismatic and replete with poignancy."

— Jennifer Madsen, Romantic Times

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786145386
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
08/01/2006
Series:
Bottom Dollar Girls Ser.
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
7
Product dimensions:
4.28(w) x 6.28(h) x 2.71(d)

Read an Excerpt

Dollar Daze


By Karin Gillespie

Center Point Large Print

Copyright © 2006 Karin Gillespie
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781585478200

Chapter One

If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

-- Comment overheard under the hair dryer at the Dazzling Do's

It was the night of the annual Sweetheart Dance in Cayboo Creek, South Carolina, and the cinder-block walls of the high school gymnasium were festooned with foil hearts and crepe-paper cupids. Frank Sinatra crooned "Fly Me to the Moon" on the oversized boom box while a crush of couples clung to each other on a makeshift dance floor beneath the basketball hoop.

Mavis Loomis, who was manning the punch bowl, clucked her tongue as she saw her friend Attalee Gaines seductively grinding her bony hips for the benefit of her white-haired date, Dooley Prichard.

"Someone needs to take a fire hose to those two," whispered Birdie Murdock, who was selling baked goods next to Mavis.

Mavis shook her head in dismay. "I'm surprised either of them have any spark left. Attalee's on the downhill slide of eighty, and Dooley can't be far behind."

"Oh, he's a far younger man," Birdie said with a snigger. "Attalee was bragging about it the other day, saying she'd snagged herself a seventy-eight-year-old stud."

"Leave it to Attalee," Mavis chuckled.

"All that wooing and cooing," Birdie said, waving a funeral home fan in front of her flushed face. "I'm glad my dating days are done."

Mavis knew she was expected to agree with her old friend. Both she and Birdie were widows and their respective husbands had been dead for over ten years. Since then, Mavis's love life had been as lively as a wet firecracker. She knew Birdie's hadn't been much perkier.

"Sometimes I think it'd be nice to have a beau," Mavis said as she swayed to the music. "Seems everyone's part of a couple these days. Look at Reeky and Jerry."

Birdie glanced at Reeky Flynn and Jerry Sweeny in the far corner of the dance floor. The couple was fused together like Siamese twins. Reeky, the owner of the Book Nook in town, had always deflected the advances of Jerry until her cat died a couple of months ago. As a surprise, Jerry, who was a taxidermist, had Moonbeam freeze-dried and mounted, creating a lasting memento of Reeky's fallen feline. Now Moonbeam had a prominent place on top of her piano, and Jerry was spending most evenings beside Reeky on her love seat.

"Reeky's a young woman in her thirties." Birdie refilled her cup with strawberry punch. "It's a bit late for us, my dear."

"I think we're still pretty darn fetching for a couple of mature women," Mavis said, smiling at her friend.

Birdie's best feature was her head of silver hair, shiny as a new dime and styled into sleek waves around her face. At the age of sixty-two, she still sported a girlish figure, save for a slight swell of tummy that could be discerned underneath her red wool dress.

Mavis was shorter than Birdie, with close-cropped hair, the salt-and-pepper color of a schnauzer's. Her best points were soft brown eyes (the color of malted milk balls, her late husband Arnold use to say) and shapely calves.

"Fetching or not," Birdie said, "I have no interest in -- "

Gracie Tobias, who'd been taking tickets at the front door, darted across the slick gymnasium floor to the refreshment table.

"Did you notice Attalee's vulgar behavior on the dance floor?" she said. "I think it's time for a faster song."

Mrs. Tobias, who wore a boxy black jacket with slim skirt and pearls, knelt next to the boom box. In moments, "Fly Me to the Moon" was replaced by "Double Shot of My Baby's Love."

"There." Mrs. Tobias brushed her hands together. "Much better. How are things going at the punch bowl?"

"Not spiked yet . . . unfortunately," Mavis said.

Mrs. Tobias laughed and helped herself to a cup of punch. "I know what you mean. I could use a bit of a toddy myself."

Mavis tapped her foot in time to the music and looked longingly at the throngs of dancing couples. "I'd settle for a turn around the floor."

"Maybe later," Birdie said with a yawn. "I'm bloated from all the punch I've been drinking. "

"I didn't mean with you," Mavis said with a sigh. "Nothing personal, but I'm tired of dancing with my girlfriends at these functions. For once, I'd like to be in the arms of a man."

"All evening long she's been in a state," Birdie said to Mrs. Tobias. "Going on about moons and Junes as if she were at the junior-senior prom again."

Mrs. Tobias dabbed at her mouth with a napkin. "Heavenly day! I'm grateful to be done with romance. All that groping and heavy breathing that comes with courting. In my book, there's nothing more common. Besides, I'm sixty-three, not sweet sixteen, and much too old for such shenanigans."

"Last month's Good Housekeeping claimed that sixty is the new forty," Mavis said. "Plenty of women have romances at an older age."

"Oh really?" Birdie asked. "Name some."

"Well, there's . . . Joan Collins," Mavis said.

"Didn't she marry a young Swedish gold digger?" Birdie said.

"Yes, but then she divorced him and remarried and is supposedly happy as a lark with her current husband," Mavis said. "And what about Barbra Streisand and Jim Brolin? Theirs was a late-life romance."

"Celebrities don't count," Birdie snapped. "It's a cinch to attract a man when you have millions of dollars and can scamper off to a plastic surgeon at the first sign of a wrinkle or a bulge. Try snagging a man when all you have to offer is creaky knees and your AARP discount card. Give me an example of one ordinary older woman who is having a romance."

"Attalee," Mavis said.

"Oh, well, Attalee." Birdie pursed her lips into a smirk. "She's hardly ordinary."

"That's for certain," Mrs. Tobias said with a titter.

Birdie glanced at her watch. "I hope this dance wraps up soon. I'd like to catch an episode of Murder, She Wrote."

"I heard that was in syndication," Mrs. Tobias said. "What channel does it come on?"

Mavis made a face. "I'm tired of sitting at home and watching old-lady television shows. I don't know about you gals, but I'm going to go and find a fellow to dance with."

She surrendered her punch ladle to Birdie and flounced away from the refreshment table into the semi-darkness of the gymnasium.

"Good luck, Mavis," Mrs. Tobias called after her. Turning to Birdie, she said, "She's not herself. Maybe I should take her to my garden club meetings. Plunging a trowel into the soil is a wonderful diversion."

"She is behaving peculiarly," Birdie said. She stared at the clutch of dancers on the floor.

"About what Mavis was saying . . . Do you ever think about?"

"Never," Mrs. Tobias said with a resolute lift of her chin. "I was married to my late husband Harrison for thirty satisfying years, and that's all I'll ever need."

"I know what you mean," Birdie said. "My Max was the love of my life."

"Besides," Mrs. Tobias said, casting her eyes around the gymnasium, "it's not as if there are any suitable men to be found around here."

That's precisely what Mavis discovered as she wandered through the knots of partygoers at the dance. Instead of encountering an eligible man to partner with, she found legions of lone women like herself. DeEtta Jefferson sat in the shadows wearing a red satin party dress, chewing Cracker Jack and looking mournfully in the direction of the dance floor. A posse of women from the Ladies' League at the Rock of Ages Baptist Church were passing out buttons that said "Down with Dancing," but Prudee Phipps, the president, betrayed herself by unconsciously tapping her foot to the beat.

Jewel Turner, who was two-stepping on the fringes of the dance floor, grabbed Mavis's arm and said over the din, "Why don't Baptists make love standing up?"

"Why?" Mavis asked.

"'Cause it might lead to dancing," Jewel said. She jerked her head in the direction of the members of the Ladies' League. "Those gals need to learn to put a little 'fun' in their fundamental."

Mavis chuckled and pressed on, disturbed that someone as pretty and young as Jewel was forced to dance stag. Jewel, who was the owner of the Chat 'N' Chew diner, had a pile of wavy, red-gold hair that reached to her shoulders and a waist as cinched as a bud vase.

Mavis simply had to find someone to dance with. It didn't matter who. After making such a big fuss in front of Birdie and Mrs. Tobias, she'd be too humiliated to return to the punch bowl a failure. All she needed was one single man willing to do the Carolina Shag. Squinting through the gloom of the gymnasium, Mavis didn't see any suitable candidates. Then, just behind her, she heard a familiar hacking cough.

The song "Be Young, Be Foolish and Be Happy" cued up and the dance floor grew packed with moving bodies.

"What do you say, Mrs. Tobias?" Birdie extended her hand. "Shall we trip the light fantastic?"

"Well, I -- "

"Come on." Birdie snapped her fingers to the beat. "It's fun."

"One dance," Mrs. Tobias said. "And you'll have to lead. I've never shagged before."

The two women joined the twisting masses. Attalee, who was being flung around by a surprisingly limber Dooley, noticed her two friends and let out a hoot.

"Shake yer groove thing, y'all!" she hollered over the music.

Birdie and Mrs. Tobias launched into a stiff shag as Birdie mouthed the words to the music. Then, directly under the floating spangles of the mirrored disco ball, Mavis and her dance partner appeared.

"Good godfathers," Birdie breathed. "Can you believe it?"

"Not in a million years." Mrs. Tobias was struck motionless.

Mavis threw herself into an enthusiastic shag with Roy Malone. Roy, who was trailing an oxygen tank, had to stop every few seconds to cough up some phlegm.

"Bless her heart," Mrs. Tobias murmured. "She really was desperate."

Just as Roy was about to dip Mavis, he lost his grip on her waist, and she fell flat on her bottom.

"Roy!" Mavis shouted over the music, struggling to get up. "Are you okay?"

Roy, who was clawing at his chest, turned purple as a plum and crumpled to the floor.

"Medic!" Mavis screamed. "Please, somebody! Help!"

A half hour later, Mavis was slumped on a folding chair in the middle of the gymnasium while Birdie and Mrs. Tobias hovered over her like a pair of brooding hens. They were the only three people remaining. After Roy's collapse, the Sweetheart Dance had lost most of its zing.

"Now, Mavis, it's not that bad." Birdie patted her shoulder.

A mottled-faced Mavis looked up at her friend. "Yes it is. I could have killed Roy. And all because of my silly vanity."

"Nonsense," Mrs. Tobias said. "You heard what the paramedics said. Roy's going to be fine." She cleared her throat. "Well, as fine as a man with an advanced case of emphysema can be. He just has to avoid aerobic exercise from now on."

"Ladies." A shiny-faced custodian poked his head into the gymnasium. "I gotta be locking up soon."

"We were just leaving." Mavis rose from her chair.

Birdie pinched the sleeve of Mavis's navy-blue mackinaw coat. "I should come home with you."

"No," Mavis said. "I think I'll stop by the store first. I've got work to do." Mavis was the proprietor of the Bottom Dollar Emporium, a general store on Main Street.

"I could help you," Birdie said, tying a muffler around her neck.

"I'm fine, really." Mavis managed a faint smile.

The women emerged from the school into a night as dark and velvety as the inside of a jewel box. Mavis waved good-bye to Birdie and Mrs. Tobias and sprinted to her white Chevy Lumina. A smattering of frost had formed on her windshield, so she had to crank the engine and wait while the defroster cleared the glass. Her late husband Arnold used to keep a scraper in the glove compartment for such occasions, but Mavis had misplaced it several years back.

Frosted car windows, leaky pipes, loose floorboards. She'd coped with them all and more since heart disease had claimed Arnold two weeks shy of his fifty-third birthday. Over the years, she'd gotten handy with a wrench and Philips screwdriver, wondering sometimes if Arnold was looking down from heaven at her in astonishment. As a young bride, she'd been all thumbs when it came to tools.

Once the ice cleared from her window, Mavis backed her car out of the school parking lot. Goodness knows what had come over her in the last few weeks. For more than ten years she'd been relatively content to be on her own. There'd been the odd moment when she'd waxed nostalgic for male companionship (watching a broadcast of The Way We Were on TNT, hearing Brenda Lee sing "Sweet Nothings" on the oldies radio station), but for the most part, she'd been fine.

Lately, though, she'd been visited by an array of confusing emotions. Several nights in a row she'd woken in the middle of the night with such an aching emptiness that she'd grabbed handfuls of her flannel nightdress and gently rocked back and forth against her headboard, soothing herself to sleep. That lonely ache, instead of lifting with the first faint light of dawn, stayed with her all day, like a persistent twinge in the joints.

Why now all of a sudden? Mavis suspected it had something to do with Attalee and Dooley's recent romance. Attalee had worked for years with Mavis at the Bottom Dollar Emporium and although she could be wacky and rough as a cob, she was still Mavis's dearest friend. Ever since Attalee had started dating Dooley, she had little time for Mavis. No more weeknights watching reality television together on Mavis's living room sofa. (Attalee knew the comings and goings of the cast members better than her own grandchildren's.) No shared suppers or evening strolls.

To be fair, Attalee often invited her along on outings with Dooley, but Mavis would just as soon stay home. The two of them were constantly kissing -- sounding like the suction cups of a rubber mat being pried from the tub -- and Mavis felt like a fifth wheel.

As a result, she'd been left to her own devices in the evenings, and every day her loneliness grew stronger. She yearned for a man's company, but the eligible men in Cayboo Creek were as picked over as a garage sale at noontime. She'd even considered posting her picture on a dating site on the Internet. But every time she sat down in front of the computer, she imagined her dear departed mama spinning in her grave at the thought of her daughter rendezvousing with strange men in dingy coffee shops. Besides, Mavis would die of shame if anyone in town found out. She could hear the gossip now: "Did you see Mavis Loomis's picture on the World Wide Web? Poor, desperate thing. She's auctioning herself off like a used lawn mower."

What a pickle I'm in, she thought as she parked in front of the Bottom Dollar Emporium. Here she was stuck with this continual longing, with no notion of how to satisfy it.

As she climbed out of her car and stood on the curb in front of her store, she squeezed her eyes shut and mouthed a silent prayer. She hadn't often asked God for a leg up. The last time she'd called on Him was when her business had been threatened by a large chain store. At the eleventh hour, He'd come to her aid like the cavalry charging over the hill on white horses.

Maybe this time, you won't wait until the last minute. Mavis immediately bit her lip at her ungracious thought.

She completed her prayer and turned the key in the lock. It was in His hands now.

Copyright ©2006 by Karin Gillespie





Continues...


Excerpted from Dollar Daze by Karin Gillespie Copyright © 2006 by Karin Gillespie. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Karin Gillespie, author of Bet Your Bottom Dollar and A Dollar Short, lives in Augusta, Georgia, with her son, Brandon, and her husband, David. Visit her at www.karingillespie.com.

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