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Beth Lisick started out as a homecoming princess with a Crisco-aided tan and a bad perm. And then everything changed. Plunging headlong into America's deepest subcultures, while keeping both feet firmly planted in her parents' Leave It to Beaver values, Lisick makes her adult home on the fringe of mainstream culture and finds it rich with paradox and humor. On the one hand, she lives in "Brokeley" with drug dealers and street gangs; on the other, she drives a station wagon with a baby seat in the back, makes her ...
Beth Lisick started out as a homecoming princess with a Crisco-aided tan and a bad perm. And then everything changed. Plunging headlong into America's deepest subcultures, while keeping both feet firmly planted in her parents' Leave It to Beaver values, Lisick makes her adult home on the fringe of mainstream culture and finds it rich with paradox and humor. On the one hand, she lives in "Brokeley" with drug dealers and street gangs; on the other, she drives a station wagon with a baby seat in the back, makes her own chicken stock, and attends ladies' luncheons. How exactly did this suburban girl-next-door end up as one of San Francisco's foremost chroniclers of alternative culture? Lisick explains it all in her hilarious, irreverent, bestselling memoir, Everybody into the Pool.
Fans of David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell will relish Lisick's scathingly funny, smart, very real take on the effluvia of daily living. No matter what community she's exposing to the light, Lisick always hits the right chord.
The fact that my parents moved to Northern California during the fabled "Summer of Love" can be explained this way: In addition to Free Love and War Protests, another hot ticket in the year 1967 was Guided Missiles. The aerospace industry was booming, and my dad, the son of a former coal miner named Cubby, had just become the first person in his family to go to college. He finished his engineering degree in Illinois and decided to move west. While vibrant young people across the nation were making pilgrimages to the Haight Ashbury in San Francisco, my parents found Mecca in Sunnyvale, near the Lockheed Missiles and Space plant and about forty-five minutes away from any genus or species of counterculture movement. If it weren't for public television documentaries and Life magazine, they would have never known that there were excessively hairy people getting busy in Golden Gate Park, shaking ribbon-festooned tambourines in one hand and holding doobies in the other. As my mom sums it up, "With two boys under two and you on the way, we were pretty darn busy ourselves."
Fast forward to one Thursday evening in the fall of 1972. It's been a big year so far.Vietnam is out of control, Watergate is heating up, and my parents sit the three of us down on the couch to alert us to an important event that will change our lives. From now on, every Thursday night will hereby be known as Family Night. My mom explains that Family Night will be a special evening when we can look forward to "relaxing" and "enjoying one another's company" -- concepts difficult for pre-elementary school age children to latch onto until my dad clarifies matters for us: "That means no TV."
It seemed impossible to imagine it. Our TV was like the household sundial, always there to give us a rough estimate of the time. Lilias, Yoga and You meant it was still too early to wake Mom up. Nap time was in sync with As the World Turns. Dinner ended just before Walter Cronkite came on. Ignoring the panic on our young faces, Dad presented us with a typed agenda. Even at ages four, five, and six, my brothers and I knew there was something odd about your dad handing you a memo. We had long harbored a vague suspicion that he thought of us as his employees, and the itemized schedule was a disturbing development.
As two people who spent the 1940s and 1950s growing up in working class Catholic families in small-town Illinois, my parents were about as wholesome and earnest as twin ears of corn at a church picnic. They were naive, sweet, and open to just about anything -- as long as it wasn't illegal or didn't hurt anyone's feelings. It's so easy to picture my mom reading about Family Night in Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, or one of those confusing mom magazines that features pictures of roasted meats and patio furniture. The little thought bubble over her head would say, "What a fun idea!" and that's exactly what would come out of her mouth.
Some people get criticized for saying whatever pops into their heads because their heads are full of darkness, sarcasm, and brutal truths. With my mom, it's the opposite. Her world is full of neat people! Interesting places! Fun ideas! And she's not afraid to let her little light shine. Irony, for her, was what she had to do with all those clothes in the basket over there, and jaded was a pretty, green Oriental stone. And she knew about the Orientals because her high school football team had been called the Pekin Chinks. Their mascot was a toothy, slanty-eyed guy wearing a coolie hat until sometime in the mid-seventies when, under advisement, they became the Dragons. Everyone in town felt just awful about the misunderstanding. They'd had no idea.
Among other things, Family Night was also a way of wearing us down before bedtime through the repeated playing of charades. Each Thursday my dad would come home from working at what he and my mom called "the bomb factory," and he'd type out the agenda on the powder blue Smith-Corona. The schedule usually looked like this:
Lisick Family Night
The first item was a given, although it should be noted that my parents participated in this part as well. We were a family of five, entirely clad in pajamas, in a suburban, split-level, tract home at dusk.
Questionnaire was always up for grabs. Any member of the family was free to ask a question of another family member, but there were months at a stretch when my brothers and I would demand to know what my dad did at work all day. "First I get my coffee," he'd start. "And then I read my mail. Sometimes Luke from the office down the hall comes by. . . ." His deflection strategy worked. He'd bore us until we stopped listening and forget by the next week that we had ever asked.
Charades was the rowdiest part of Family Night. Lacking worldly knowledge, we were forced to repeat the same clues, usually drawing from the worlds of Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, or daytime television. A quick batch of jumping jacks was enough to act out the Jack LaLanne Show, the early morning exercise program we watched religiously as we scarfed down our Pop Tarts, and my mom's specialty was a surprisingly nuanced version of Dick Van Dyke's Bert the Chimney Sweep from Mary Poppins.
We were obsessed with Mary Poppins. My oldest brother Paul, at the age of seven, had already typed out a sixty-five page sequel about what Jane and Michael Banks do after Mary leaves -- namely, horse racing and international spying. And I was in the annoying, precocious habit of blurting out "supercalifragilisticexpealidocious!" any time something favorable happened, like dismounting the backyard trapeze without doing a face-plant or . . .
Excerpted from Everybody into the Pool by Beth Lisick Copyright © 2006 by Beth Lisick. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted January 10, 2012
Someone compared this writer to David Sedaris. NO WAY!! She would like to be as clever and funny as Sedaris, but doesn't even come close. But aside from any comparisons, this writer is not funny or interesting.
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Posted October 3, 2013
Posted April 5, 2006
This book is so great!!! It's funny, smart,and just really relatable. Beth lisick has got great comedic timing, I have never laughed so hard from a book in my life. It's a fun read, I've even re-read it!! So, enough with this review and buy the book to see what I'm talking about!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 24, 2008
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Posted November 14, 2010
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