Everyone's favorite mother-daughter writing duo is back with a new collection of warm and witty stories that will strike a chord with every woman. With twenty-something Francesca navigating New York City, Lisa holding down the fort in the suburbs, and Mother Mary making frequent and always entertaining appearances, there are plenty of opportunities for family-induced guilt, fighting, laughter, and love. As Lisa says, "Bottom line, if you're a mom, you'll feel guilty all the time, and this is true because you're a daughter as well, and God only knows how many times you failed your poor mother." So come along for the ride as Lisa and Francesca continue on the road of life acquiring men and puppies…Ok, to be honest, Lisa is acquiring the puppies, while Francesca is lucky enough to have dates with actual men. They'll leave it to readers to decide which is more desirable and/or or easier to train.
About the Author
LISA SCOTTOLINE is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar-Award winning author of twenty-one novels. She has served as the president of Mystery Writers of America, and her recent novel Look Again has been optioned for a feature film. She is a weekly columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and her columns have been collected in four books and optioned for television. She has 25 million copies of her books in print in the United States, and she has been published in thirty countries. She lives in Philadelphia with an array of disobedient pets.
FRANCESCA SCOTTOLINE SERRITELLA graduated cum laude from Harvard University, where she won the Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize, the Le Baron Russell Briggs Fiction Prize, and the Charles Edmund Horman Prize for her creative writing. She is working on a novel, and she lives in New York with only one dog, so far.
Date of Birth:July 1, 1955
Place of Birth:Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1981
Read an Excerpt
Have a Nice Guilt Trip
By Lisa Scottoline, Francesca Serritella
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Smart Blonde, LLC, and Francesca Scottoline Serritella
All rights reserved.
I hate it when Mother Mary is right, which is always.
We begin a zillion years ago, when I'm a little kid with a bad cold, and Mother Mary goes instantly for the Vicks VapoRub. As a child, I had more Vicks Vapo rubbed on me than most consumptives. My chest was as shiny as a stripper's and even more fragrant.
Camphor is still my favorite perfume.
Which could be why I'm single.
Another favorite home remedy of hers was the do-it-yourself humidifier. By this I mean she placed a Pyrex baking dish full of water on every radiator in the house.
I never knew why, and neither did my friends. None of them had radiators, because they had nicer houses. They had something called forced air, which sounded vaguely scary to us. The Flying Scottolines never forced anything, especially something you needed to breathe.
And in the summer, those same people had central air, which was something else we didn't have. Our air lacked centralization. The only central thing in our house was Mother Mary, and that was how she liked it.
But back to the do-it-yourself humidifiers, which sat like an open-air fishbowl on every radiator. As a child, I understood that this would cure something dreadful called Dry Air, which we had in spades. I didn't really understand why Uncle Mikey had to move to Arizona for the Dry Air, when he could've just moved to our house, but be that as it may, I was grateful that I had an all-knowing mother, who understood that air came in forced, central, and dry, and that everything could be cured by Pyrex.
The only time this was a problem was on Sundays, when Mother Mary actually wanted to bake ziti or eggplant parm, and there were no dishes available except for the ones cooking water on the radiators. She would dispatch me to get a Pyrex dish off the radiator and wash it out, and I would do so happily, if the end result was eggplant parm.
I will still do anything for eggplant parm.
Make a note, should we meet.
But back to the story, cleaning the baking dishes was a yucky job. Often the water in the dishes would have dried up, leaving a scummy residue, and even if there was some water left, it wasn't a pretty sight. Dog and cat hair would be floating on the surface, or ash from a passing cigarette.
According to Mother Mary, smoking was fine for air quality.
You win some, you lose some.
So fast-forward to when I become a mother myself, and baby Francesca gets sick, and of course Mother Mary advocates Vicks and Pyrex, but I reject these ideas as old-fashioned. I am Modern.
I had that kid so pumped up with amoxicillin she could've grown mold. In fact, I had her on them prophylactically, so she'd never get another ear infection, and if I could have her on them now, I would, so she'd never get pregnant.
It's a joke, okay?
But then recently, I got the worst cold ever, and I called the doctor, who told me that antibiotics weren't such a hot idea and what I really needed was Vicks VapoRub and a humidifier. I couldn't believe my ears. I wanted the magic pill to make it all better but he says that it's a virus and all that, and no.
I didn't tell this to Mother Mary. Don't you, either.
I suppose I could just get a Pyrex dish and put it on the radiator, but I am still Modern and I refuse. Also the doctor says I need a cool -mist humidifier, and not a warm-mist humidifier, and once again, I feel lucky to learn more about the mysteries of air, which now comes in mist.
Who knew oxygen could be so complicated?
So I go to the drugstore, buy the requisite cool-mist humidifier, and bring it home. I spend exactly one night with this thing and want to shoot myself. It's thirty degrees outside, and in my bedroom, it's twenty. An Arctic chill blasts from the cool-mist humidifier, and I'm up all night.
So I go back to the drugstore and buy a warm-mist humidifier. I take it home, and it frizzes my hair, but you can't have everything. Also, it comes with a little slot for a stick that's impregnated with Vicks VapoRub, and you know what I'm thinking.
This is the revenge of Mother Mary.CHAPTER 2
Shades of Gray
What's the difference between accepting yourself and giving up?
I'm talking, of course, about going gray.
Because that's what's happening.
I've had glimmers of gray hair before, but it was concentrated on the right and left sides of my head, which gave me a nice Bride-of -Frankenstein look.
But I've been working so hard over the winter that I haven't bothered to get my hair highlighted, and today I noticed that there's a lot more gray than there used to be.
And you know what?
It doesn't look terrible.
Also the world did not come to an end.
In fact, nothing happened, one way or the other.
But before we start talking about going gray, we have to talk about going brown. I seem to remember that brown is my natural hair color, but I forget. In any event, sometime in the Jurassic, I started highlighting my hair. It was long enough ago that highlights didn't require a second mortgage.
But no matter, some women are vain enough to pay anything to look good, and she would be me. I figured my highlights were a cost of doing business. In fact, I named my company Smart Blonde, so highlights were practically a job requirement, if not a uniform.
In fact, maybe highlights are deductible.
Just kidding, IRS.
(I know they'll really laugh at that one. They have a great sense of humor.)
Anyway, my hair appointment for new highlights is tomorrow, but I'm really wondering if it's worth it. Not because of the money, or even the time, but because I'm starting to accept the fact that my hair is not only secretly brown, it's secretly gray.
And so I'm thinking, maybe I should just let it go. Accept that I'm not only going gray, but I'm going brown, which I used to think was worse. And that maybe I should just accept myself as I am.
Or, in other words, give up.
Now, before I start getting nasty letters, let me just say that I love silvery gray hair on people. I know women who look terrific with all -over gray hair, but mine isn't all-over yet. It's coming only in patches, which looks like somebody spilled Clorox on my head.
You know you're in trouble when your hair matches your laundry.
Also, my gray hair is growing in stiff and oddly straight, so it looks like it's raising its hand.
But that might be my imagination.
And before you weigh in on this question, let me add the following:
I'm also deciding whether to start wearing my glasses, instead of contacts. Yes, if you check out the sparkly-eyed picture of me on the book, you'll see me in contacts. Actually, I took them out right after the photo, because they're annoying. Fast-forward to being middle-aged, where any time you're wearing your contacts, you have to wear your reading glasses, and so one way or the other, glasses are going to get you.
And I'm starting to think that's okay, too. In other words, I may be accepting myself for the myopic beastie that I am.
Which is good.
Or I may merely be getting so lazy that I cannot be bothered to look my best.
Which is not so good.
Because in addition to gray hair and nearsightedness, I also accept that I don't have the answers to many things. For example, I just drove home from NYC and I don't know the difference between the EZ-Pass lane and the Express EZ-Pass lane.
Life isn't always EZ.CHAPTER 3
Spring means one thing: babies.
My friend and I, plus my dog Pip, were enjoying an outdoor brunch at a restaurant and we were surrounded. Babies in sunhats strapped into strollers, babies hanging their chubby limbs from their snugglies, babies gurgling on their parents' laps. The sidewalk was a baby parade. It was distracting.
But not as distracting as the words "vanilla buttermilk pancakes" on the menu.
My mouth had just begun to water when my friend cried out, "Omigod! Look at that munchkin!" She pointed to a baby in his mother's arms one table over.
"Cute," I said. I patted my lap once and Pip jumped into it. I taught him that, and it fills my heart with pride when he does it.
"You didn't even look."
"I looked." And I decided on the omelet.
"You don't feel that?" she asked.
Later, when we were paying the check, my next-door neighbor approached, pushing her new baby in a stroller and walking her cockapoo. We greeted each other, and my friend cooed over her baby as I bent to pet the dog. When my neighbor left, my friend asked, "Is her baby a boy or a girl?"
I shrugged, feeding Pip some eggs from my plate, making sure to pick out the onions first. Onions aren't good for dogs.
"Do you know her baby's name?"
"Um ... I know her dog's name is Jefferson."
Look, I'm not a monster. I like babies for all the obvious reasons. They're cute. They're soft. They have great laughs. And even when they throw food in a restaurant or cry next to me in an airplane, it never bothers me. I'm able to tune them out.
But is that bad?
Shouldn't there be some primitive part of my brain to prevent me from "tuning out" a child in need?
Even my dog Pip looks up when a puppy on a YouTube video gives a little yelp.
I'm counting on these maternal instincts to kick in down the road. But should there be more evidence of them now?
"I'm sure I'll feel the baby urge eventually," I said, suddenly unsure. I wiped some bits of egg Pip had gotten stuck in his ear fur. "We have time, don't we?"
"Sure, but I want one now."
I visibly shuddered.
I'm not prepared for a baby right now. I was an only child, I had no younger siblings, and my lone cousin is ten years older than I am. I have zero baby experience. I don't know how to hold, feed, or change a baby, and the mere thought of doing something wrong and breaking it gives me a cold sweat.
If I were a twenty-something man, this cluelessness would be understandable, even endearing, the stuff of rom-com movie montages.
As a woman, it's concerning.
"I wouldn't say it's 'concerning,' it's just surprising," my friend said, as we continued our discussion walking down the block after brunch. "You're one of the most nurturing people I know."
I do love to play mama to my friends. I bring soup to pals feeling sick, I text reminders for mutual friends' birthdays, I carried my BFF's passport for her when we studied abroad, and I enjoy surprising my boyfriend with freshly baked muffins in the morning.
But nurturing a twenty-five-year-old man is a lot different from nurturing an infant.
Well, at least they go potty on their own.
We stopped for Pip to do his business on the sidewalk. "I know I want kids someday." I paused to clean up after him. "I mean, I think I do."
My friend scrunched her nose in disgust.
"Sorry." I forget poop is gross.
The trash can was across the street behind a giant puddle. Pip couldn't jump it, so I scooped him up, cradled him in my arms, tossed the baggie, and walked back, still carrying him.
I felt desperate to defend my position to my friend as much as to myself. "Maybe I'll feel it when I'm more established in my career. Or maybe because of my parents' divorce, finding the right guy seems like the more challenging task, and I can't see past that yet. Or maybe" — I didn't even want to say the next thing aloud, it made me so sad — "maybe I'm not the baby type after all."
My friend was smiling at me. "Or maybe you just don't want another one."
Pip licked my chin.
Sweet baby.CHAPTER 4
Fun for Free
Here's something I do that might be crazy:
I rearrange the furniture.
Blind people don't stand a chance in my house. And most of the time, neither do I.
Rearranging the furniture is one of my favorite bad habits. My most favorite bad habit is eating chocolate cake, and my least favorite bad habit is marrying badly.
It all began with an ottoman, which somehow expanded into the Ottoman Empire.
Let me explain.
I was sitting on my couch in the family room, working on my laptop with the TV on. I went to put my feet up on the coffee table, and my foot knocked over a mug of coffee. This had happened to me more times than I can count. Every book on my coffee table has been soaked with coffee, and so has the table itself, but I don't think that's why they call it a coffee table or a coffee-table book.
Right then and there, I decided to do something about it. I remembered that I had an ottoman in my office upstairs, which was paired with a chair that's there for show.
Please tell me I'm not the only person who has furniture for show.
The chair-and-ottoman sits next to my desk in case somebody wanders in, puts their feet up, and watches me work, but that's never going to happen and I wouldn't want that, anyway. Once I met a writer who told me that he read the pages he'd written that day to his wife, and I thought:
That poor woman.
In any event, I got the ottoman, carried it downstairs, plunked it down in the family room, and put my feet up on it.
In the end, I ended up changing the fabric on the couch to coordinate with the ottoman and even changed the paint color on the walls, which is how the ottoman became the Ottoman Empire, and a bad habit was born.
Since then, I look around my house with a critical eye, wondering if the current furniture arrangement is the best and invariably deciding that it isn't. This thought usually strikes around bedtime, when all the smart people in the world would probably go to sleep.
But not me.
I shove couches around, then chairs. I even rearrange pictures on the wall and start hammering nails. Pick up any one of the framed things on my wall, and behind it you'll find at least twelve holes, like automatic-weapons fire, but really tiny.
Frankly, I don't think there's anything wrong with this bad habit.
On the contrary, I'm a fan. That's a great part of growing older, you start to think that even the bad things about you are good.
And why not?
Whose life is it anyway?
Rearranging the furniture is a way of having fun, for free. It keeps you on your toes to think about what other ways the room can be reconfigured, even if it means that you'll stub your toe on a chair that didn't used to be there.
In a funny way, I think it's a small-scale way to improve your own life.
Case in point is my alarm clock.
I know this sounds trivial, but why stop now. Somebody has to write about the simple things in life, and if you like that sort of thing, you've come to the right place.
I have this really large, ugly, glowing clock next to my bed, which I've suffered with for years. The numbers need to be big because I can't read them otherwise, and I need to know the time if I wake up at night, so I can worry about how much sleep I'm not getting.
I put things over the clock so it's dark enough to sleep, but it's not the best solution, to cover a clock with a pair of cotton undies, like the world's ugliest night-light.
Then it struck me that I could put the clock in the bathroom. Granted, I can't see it from the bed, but on account of my advanced years, I'm in the bathroom at least once a night.
And now I know exactly when.
Plus I sleep like a baby, and my cotton undies are back on my tushie.
Happy ending.CHAPTER 5
With Apologies to Mary Poppin
My life just changed in a good way. In fact, in a great way.
By gummi vitamins.
I'm supposed to take a multivitamin, B complex, calcium, CoQ10, and Crestor.
But the only thing I take is Crestor. Why? Because I don't like taking pills, or I forget, and pills suck.
That would be a medical term.
So imagine my delight when I'm cruising the aisles in the food store, and I see a massive jug of gummi vitamins. I don't mean gummy, like my piecrust. I mean gummi, like the bears.
I get my gummi vitamins home and they're exciting and colorful, shaped like blueberries, orange slices, and red cherries. In other words, vitamins morphed into Jujyfruits.
I'm so there.
And I'm picking red goop out of my teeth as we speak.
There's a visual. Now you know why I'm dateless.
All of a sudden, I can't wait to take my daily multivitamins. I'm like a little kid. They're better than Flintstone vitamins because they don't stick together. Don't ask me how I know.
I get to have two gummi vitamins a day, and every morning, I look forward to picking my flavors. Never mind that they all taste the same, like the first ingredient, which is Glucose Syrup.
It's candy with a medical excuse.
Sugar with a doctor's note.
A spoonful of gummi helps the medicine go down.
But it doesn't stop there.
I go back to the store, where they had Vitamin B Complex in gummi form, and they're awesome, too. Soft and chewy, in flavors that taste basically of floor wax.
And like a gummi addict, I went on another hunt and managed to find Gummi CoQ10 at Costco.
Don't ask me what CoQ10 is. It's not even a word. It's a password. It can't even make up its mind between numbers and letters. It should have to choose.
All I know is that my doctor said I have to take CoQ10 because I take Crestor, and he's the one man I obey.
Unfortunately my gummi CoQ10 is only peach-flavored, but that's still an improvement on CoQ10 in conventional pill form, which tastes like a conventional pill.
And it's a bitter pill to swallow.
So far, if you're counting, that means every day, I get to have five gummi things and call it medication. Which means that sugar, carbs, and calories don't count. And I'm not that crazy anyway. I actually love the taste of calories. In fact, calories are my favorite food.
Excerpted from Have a Nice Guilt Trip by Lisa Scottoline, Francesca Serritella. Copyright © 2014 Smart Blonde, LLC, and Francesca Scottoline Serritella. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.
Table of Contents
Homely Remedies 5
Shades of Gray 8
Baby Fever 11
Fun for Free 14
With Apologies to Mary Poppins 17
The Married-Ex Milestone 20
Brusha Brusha Brusha 24
Mother Mary and The Fighting Scottolines 27
Mother Mary Misbehaves 31
Third Month's the Charm 34
The Scent of a Woman 38
With Apologies to L'Oreal 41
Bon Voyage? 45
In Which I Officially Hit the Wall! 48
William Wordsworth Needs a New Password 51
Love and Marriage, Then Divorce 54
You Say Tomato 57
Call of Jury Duty 60
To Catch a Predator 64
Dog Years 67
I'm on It, Walt 71
Stage Mom 74
Extra Extra Crispy 78
Ovarian Contrarian 81
Saving Grace 84
Be Careful What You Wish List 87
I Know It When I See It 91
Stars and Puppies 94
Milk Sheke 98
The True Meaning of Words 102
Rolling Without Homies 106
Happy Thanksgiving 109
Gym Pat 118
Gifts for Him 122
Mother Mary and the 600 Thread Count 125
The Season of Giving 128
Happy New Year Dotcom 131
Being Good in the New Year 134
They Call Alabama the Crimson Tide 138
Unreal Estate 141
I Want a Name When I Lose 144
Thought Bubbles 148
A Dog's Pursuit of the Far-Fetched 151
Fish & Game 154
Recipe for Disaster 158
Number One Can Be Hazardous to Your Health 161
Urban Studies 164
Season to Taste 167
Airport Insecurity 170
Festival du Crime 173
Relationship Spoiler Alert 176
Engagement Ring-A-Ding Ding 179
Extremely Speedy Delivery 182
Old MacDonald Takes Manhattan 191
Desitin Days 195
Mother Mary Talks to God and Luis 198
With Our Powers Combined 202
God, Man, and Prada 205
Hobby Horse 208
King Baby 211
Politics and Farm-Fresh Eggs 214
Mother Nature Is a Bad Mom 223
Make It Twerk 226
Gangrene Thumb 230
Reply Hazy, Try Again 233
Restaurant Wars 237
Greased Lightning 240
Do the Meth 243
Suing Stevie Wonder 246
Ho for the Burn 250
Magic Kingdom 253
A Wall of Guilt 257
Mrs. Uncle Sam 263
Mother Mary Twerks It Out 266
My Grandmother is Not the Same 270
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