Marrying Momby Olivia Goldsmith
A gentleman of means, neither young nor decrepit. Looks irrelevant. Generous to a fault. Criminal record not a problem. Witty, mature, decisive widow has recently relocated to New York City in order to be very, very close to her grown children (who prefer managing their own lives, thank you very much). Their lifelong gratitude and relief (plus/em>… See more details below
A gentleman of means, neither young nor decrepit. Looks irrelevant. Generous to a fault. Criminal record not a problem. Witty, mature, decisive widow has recently relocated to New York City in order to be very, very close to her grown children (who prefer managing their own lives, thank you very much). Their lifelong gratitude and relief (plus their lovely mother -- as long as you move out of state) will be your REWARD. Not offer of any kind will be rufused.
Mom is Phyllis Geronomous (née Phyllis Steen, so Geronomous seems a big improvement), and she lives in South Florida. While at 69, she's no longer young, she finds little appealing about the lifestyle of her many elderly neighbors, who restlessly patrol the local boardwalk and look forward only to early-bird dinners at the Rascal House. Dedicated to finding something a little less terminal, Phyllis bids farewell to her dead husband Ira at the cemeteryhe doesn't answer, but he never said a lot when he was alive eitherand returns to New York City to get into the hair of her unhappy children: Sigourney (née Susan), a 40ish stockbroker whose business and love life are falling apart; gay Bruce, whose "Queer Santa" greeting-card line is failing and whose lover won't commit to marriage; and fat, whiny Sharon, whose husband Barney is a deadbeat. Guilty because she never had time to go to PTA meetings, Phyllis now wants to fix their lives. At the same time, they want her out of their hair and back with the palm trees. So, the three launch Operation Geezer Quest to find Phyllis a rich husband, complete with a Bergdorf Goodman makeover and a suite at the Pierre. Along the way, with enough Yiddish for a whole season of The Nanny, Phyllis doles out tough love and wise words. Finally, everyone's life is improved, and Mom begins her eighth decade with good sex, a large sapphire ring, and an offshore bank account in the Caymans.
Some laughs and refreshing senior-citizen romance, but more like the outline for a TV sitcom than a novel.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.74(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.98(d)
Read an Excerpt
Ira, I'm leaving you." It wasn't easy for Phyllis to give her husband of forty-seven years the news, but she was doing it. She had always told the truth. All her life people had called her "difficult" or "tough" or "insensitive," but actuallyshe was just honest.
"I can't take it, Ira," she told him. "You know I never likedFlorida. I came down here for you, because you wanted to." She paused. She didn't want to blame. It was a free country and Ira hadn't forced her. "Well, you'd always supported me," Phyllis admitted. "Let's face it: you earned the money, so I owed it to you. But it was your retirement, Ira, not mine. I wasn't ready to retire. But did you give me a choice?" Ira said nothing. Ofcourse, she didn't expect him to. The fact was that in their forty-seven years of married life he'd rarely said much. Still, by some marital osmosis, she always knew what his position was on any given subject. Now she realized that the wave of disapproval that she expected to feel had not materialized. This meant that either Ira was sulking or that he wasn't there at all. She paused. Even for her, considered a loud mouth by everyone all her life, even for her it was hard to say this. But it had to be said. "You didn't pay enough attention to them, Ira. You needed me at the company, and I did what I had to do. But the children needed us. And I don't think they got enough of us, Ira. Things have gone wrong for them. Sharon with Barney . . . Susan unmarried . . . and Bruce!" Phyllis paused and bit her lip. There were some things best left unsaid. "I don't want to criticize you, but I don't think you were there for them, Ira. You paid for the best schools,but they didn't learn how to live. They don't know what's important. And I think they need their mother. I'm going up to take care of the children, Ira. I wasn't a good enough mother to them then, but I can try and make up for it now."
Phyllis sighed deeply. The sun was merciless, and she thought of the skin cancer that Ira had developed on his bald head. She should wear a hat, but she couldn't stand hats or sunglasses or any of the extra chazerai that most people schlepped around in Florida: sunscreen, lip balm, eye shades, visors. Who had the time? Florida was the place that looked like paradise but wound up deadly. "Ira, Thanksgiving was unbearable. Eating a turkey in the Rascal House yesterday and having the kids calling only out of a sense of obligation? What kind of holiday was that? It wasn't good for them and it wasn't good for me. It was depressing, Ira." She lowered her voice. Phyllis wasn't vain, but she lied about her age. "My seventieth birthday is on the twelfth, Ira. It scares me. Then there's Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's coming, I won't survive if I try to do it down here. Do you understand?"
Nothing. No response. Phyllis told herself she shouldn't be surprised. Always she talked, he listened. But at least at one time he had listened. In Florida, in the last several years, he seemed to have collapsed in on himself. His world was only as large as his chest cavity and the illness that resided in it. Phyllis had made sure he took his pills, watched his diet, and that he'd exercised. But conversation? A luxury. Phyllis sighed again. What did she expect?
Phyllis turned her back on Ira and wiped moisture out of her eyes. She wasn't a crier. It was ridiculous to get all emotional. She knew that and fiercely told herself to stop it. She turned back. "You won't be alone here," she said. "Iris Blumberg is just over there by the willow tree, and Max Feiglebaum isn't far away." She paused. "I know you don't have patience for Sylvia, but she'll visit every week to tidy up."
There wasn't anything more to say. They had had a good marriage, she and Ira. There were those who saw her as pushy, as too outgoing, as egocentric. Not Ira. And he'd been wrong because she was all those things. You couldn't reach the age of sixty-nine, she mused, without knowing a little bit about yourself. Unless you were very pigheaded, or a man. Ira, a man, had never really understood her or learned a thing about himself. But then with men, how much was there to know?
With men, either they had a job or they didn't, they cheated or they didn't, they charmed you or they didn't. Ira had been an accountant before he retired, almost a decade ago. Ira was a good man. He worked and brought home his pay, didn't cheat, and didn't charm. But he had liked her. If he hadn't understood her, he had at least enjoyed her. And he'd given her three beautiful babies.
Phyllis thought of Susan, Bruce, and Sharon. Each had been so perfect, so gorgeous. Funny how babies grew up and became just as imperfect as any other adults.
She shook her head, dislodging the tangential thought. As she'd aged she hadn't, thank God, lost her memory. Instead, if anything, she remembered too much too often. "So anyway, Ira, I hope this doesn't come as a shock. You always knew I hated this place. Nobody down here but tourists, old Jews, and rednecks. I've got to leave you. It's for my mental health," she said, though she knew that Ira would hardly accept that as a legitimate excuse. "When did you become sane?" was one of the questions he'd frequently asked her. Despite his mild joke they both knew she was the voice of reason.
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