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I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool


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"Lisa and Francesca, mother and daughter, bring you the laughter of their lives." —Delia Ephron, bestselling author

The bestselling and “perennially hilarious” mother-daughter team is back with a new collection of stories from their real lives, guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. Join Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella as they regret drunk-shopping online, try smell-dating, and explore the freedom of a hiatus from men - a Guyatus. They offer a fresh and funny take on the triumphs and facepalm moments of modern life, showing that when it comes to navigating the crazy world we live in, you’re always your own best lifeguard.

Praise for the Series:

“True tales of how we live now from a mother and daughter who are best pals—and a very funny writing team.” —People (Best Beach Book)

“The mother-daughter duo returns with a collection of breezy summer essays, perfect for the beach, the pool or even the couch. This witty, insightful assortment of stories is a wonderfully entertaining look into the lives of two modern women.” —Parade Magazine

“We get to be flies on the wall as the mother-daughter team fights, makes up, and hurls barbs just like you and your mom.” —O, The Oprah Magazine (Perfect Summer Must Read)

"Guaranteed laughs: short, sharp musings on life from [this] perennially hilarious mom-daughter duo." —Good Housekeeping

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250059994
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/12/2018
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 469,027
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

LISA SCOTTOLINE is a bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author and a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has been published in thirty countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of 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 lives in New York with one dog and one cat, so far.

Together they have written I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool, I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places, and many others.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date of Birth:

July 1, 1955

Place of Birth:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1981

Read an Excerpt


Perking Up


Mommy has a new wish.

Besides Bradley Cooper.

We're talking coffee.

And I'm on a quest.

I know, some people climb Everest.

Others cure cancer.

But all I want is a delicious cup of coffee that I can make myself, at home.

Is that so much to ask?


Right out front, I have to confess that I love Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

Sometimes I'll have Starbucks and other times Wawa, but my coffee soul mate is Dunkin'.

We've been together longer than either of my marriages combined.

Daughter Francesca likes to tell the story of the time we were watching television and a Dunkin' Donuts commercial came on, and I whispered, "I love you, Dunkin' Donuts."

Okay, that's embarrassing enough.

But then Francesca tweeted that to Dunkin' Donuts, and Dunkin' Donuts tweeted back:

"We love you too, Lisa!"


Anyway, you get the idea.

So I stop by Dunkin' Donuts whenever I can and I also pick up a lottery ticket. When I lose the lottery, at least I've had a great cup of coffee, which makes me almost as happy.

You're supposed to be able to make Dunkin' Donuts at home, and I have a Keurig coffeemaker, so I bought the Dunkin' Donuts K-Cups and did the whole Keurig thing, but it wasn't the same as the real thing.

And unfortunately, I developed almost a superstitious belief that a cup of great coffee is essential to my writing process. I'm not the first writer to believe that a beverage is essential to great fiction. Ernest Hemingway had booze, but I have caffeine. And when my good-luck charm is on shaky ground, I fear my books will start to suck, and Mrs. Bradley Cooper can't have that.

So I decided that I would give up on making Dunkin' Donuts at home and try different types of coffee. I understand this is called being flexible, but it's not something that comes easily to me.

Nor should it.

One of the great things about being single is that you never have to compromise anything, and I wasn't looking forward to compromising my one and only vice.

Nevertheless, I decided I should go back to basics, namely percolated coffee. I admit this was probably nostalgia-driven, because I remember the days when Mother Mary perked coffee on the stovetop, brewing Maxwell House from a can, but I couldn't find a stovetop percolator and had to settle for a plug-in, and I thought I could beat Maxwell House, so I got myself to the grocery store, where I stood before a dizzying array of types of coffee, coming from everywhere around the globe, including Africa, Arabia, and the Pacific.

This was coffee with frequent-flyer mileage.

Likewise there were different kinds of roasts — light, dark, French, Italian, and Extra Dark French, which sounded vaguely racist.

I went with medium Italian, because that's basically what I am.

Then I had to choose the "body" of the coffee, which evidently meant "the weight of the coffee on your tongue."

Everywhere you look, body issues.

Again I chose the light-to-medium bodied, ground it at the store, brought it home, perked it, and it sucked. I persevered for another week, but I couldn't do it. I decided to throw out the baby with the coffee water and went back further to my roots to buy a little Italian Bialetti espresso maker, perked on the stovetop. But that meant I had to go back to the grocery store and start all over again, since the new coffeemaker required the moka grind, which is not even a word.

I brought the coffee home, perked it, and took a sip.

It sucked, too.

Or maybe I suck at flexibility.

So now I don't know what to do.

I'm taking any and all suggestions.

And I have a novel to finish.

Tell me how to make a great cup of coffee.

The future of literature depends upon it.

Also my job.

I'll split the Powerball with you.


We're Having a Baby!


I was hunched over my laptop, reading an article about which baby stroller is best for city dwellers, when my mom peered over my shoulder.

"Do you have something to tell me?"

We're having a baby!

Well, my friend group is.

I've been part of a stable group of six, dear girlfriends since we were in the sixth grade, and now the first of us is pregnant. We've moved through many steps of life in stride, but a baby is a new frontier.

I am beyond excited.

Last night I couldn't sleep, my brain was too busy thinking of baby names.

Don't worry, I would never be so presumptuous as to suggest any.

(But in case she's reading this: if you're curious, I have a list, and it's totally okay if you hate them, but I'm just gonna email ...)

In addition to researching strollers, I've scoured Sephora reviews of the best stretch-mark cream and scouted the coolest maternity clothes websites. I've pre-selected my friend's birthday, Christmas, and Groundhog Day presents.

And I haven't even gotten started on gifts for the baby.

Actually, I take that back — I did preorder a board book entitled Feminist Baby, because I'm staking my claim as that aunt early.

Thanks to my web search history, every online advertisement thinks I'm pregnant.

If I see one more pop-up for breast pumps ... Last week, the New York contingent of our girl gang got dinner with Mama for the first time since she emailed us all the happy news.

The moment she slipped off her coat and revealed the tiniest baby bump, I girl-squealed.

And I never girl-squeal.

I found myself making sure she sat out of the way of the passing busboys, wanting to pull the chair out for her, then wanting the waiter to bring water faster, and bread, lots of bread! I wanted to order everything on the menu and watch her eat it.

Even as her friend, seeing her triggered an animal urge to nurture and protect her.

Our pride is having its first cub, and we lionesses need to circle the den.

When the waiter brought the wine list, we waved him off. It went without saying that we were abstaining in solidarity.

We made about two minutes of small chat before I caved and said, "SO, what is it like?" and we unleashed a torrent of questions.

Pregnancy is simultaneously the most universal female experience and the most unfathomable one. You can't possibly imagine what it's really like until you experience it.

Or, second best, until you see it up close.

And until this moment, I've only gotten as close as a sonogram photo on Facebook.

I'm an only child, and in my small extended family, I have only one cousin — and he's older. On both sides, the Scottolines and Serritellas are bad at reproduction.

No one can stay married long enough.

I babysat the neighbor's kids as a teenager, but actual infants were above my pay grade.

I've cooed over babies but never held one.

Pip doesn't count.

When I've had an acquaintance or distant relative announce a pregnancy, I congratulate them, but I don't feel comfortable asking any questions. I never know what is and isn't polite to ask, it seems too personal.

But nothing is too personal between friends of twenty years. So I had a million questions at this dinner.

How do you feel? Are you nauseous? Are you starving?

Are your boobs awesome now? Oh no, they hurt?!?

When does it kick?

Does this mean we can order dessert?

She laughed and patiently answered our questions and filled us in on all the things that she did and didn't expect. She told us the best news ever:

It's a girl!

I tried not to immediately burst into tears. I nearly succeeded.

It was at once surreal and fitting that I was again leaning over a table with these girlfriends to learn about this most momentous experience of womanhood, just like we had when we were sitting around the lunch table in middle school, comparing notes on the most trivial firsts of womanhood.

These are the girls with whom I puzzled out puberty. Together, we figured out which razors wouldn't nick your knees, even with a shaky hand, which maxi pads felt least like diapers, which tampons were the least scary. They reassured me that I was not the only girl on earth to have slightly unequal-sized breasts.

Whoever did anything first had to report back to the troops. We compared notes on what to do with your tongue when you kiss. When the first of us saw a guy naked, lunch break became a Grey's Anatomy lesson, complete with crude diagrams drawn on the back of a napkin.

And it wasn't just boy stuff, we conferred on SAT prep, college essays; anything big and daunting was tackled as a team.

After college, we no longer hit life milestones in lockstep with one another. That can be a source of jealousy or angst in some friendships, but only if you reduce major life events like marriage or a child to merit badges of womanhood.

I have truly never felt competitive with these friends, but I think that's because we always helped each other.

Childbearing is more complicated than shaving your legs. It will probably take all six of us to get a comprehensive sense of this remarkable, insane, beautiful female experience.

Friendship is like a longitudinal study of how to be human. We're here to be each other's test subjects, and to use our findings to tip the scales toward happiness.

Not that Mama is our unlucky guinea pig — it evens out. Yes, she's running the diaper gauntlet first. But she has all of us unencumbered single ladies around to support her. Her baby girl will be the object of adoration of five happy aunties and last-minute babysitters.

Those of us who have children later won't need as much help, since we'll have cribbed notes for years. Plus, we'll get the mother lode of hand-me-down baby clothes.

And if any of us is unsure that having kids is right for her, she'll have five of us living, breathing, spit-up-covered pros-and-cons lists to help her decide.

For the last twenty years, these girls, now women, have been my brain trust. Thanks to them, for the last two decades I haven't had to figure anything out alone.

And Baby Girl, you will always have a high chair at our table.


Spot On


It turns out that my past is spotty.

And yours may be, too.

I learned this when I turned sixty.

(I'm still getting used to saying that, much less seeing it in print.)

All of us women have to cope with the signs of aging, and some of us do so better than others.

I mostly ignore it.

I'm not a model, so I don't earn a living by the way I look, and I've come to like my face, even with its laugh lines, since I like to laugh.

I know that sometimes my cheeks look drawn and hollow, which is the kind of thing that tempts some women to opt for injections of filler.

I don't judge, but that isn't my style.

As soon as I hear "injections," I'm gone.

And the only filler my face needs is carbohydrates.

The same is true of face-lifts or cosmetic surgery. I don't blame anybody who does it, but my fear kicks in at "surgery."

Though I have to admit that I've been tempted recently, a fact I discovered by accident. After summer was over, I noticed an oddly dark spot on my cheek, and since I wasn't always careful about using sunscreen, I worried it was cancer. The very notion sent me scurrying to the Internet, where I looked at various horrifying slides and learned the acronym ABCDE, which stands for asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving.

Now you learned something, and so did I.

The last time I had memorized an acronym with as much interest was when I was getting engaged, and I learned about the four C's for engagement rings.

Cut, clarity, color, carat.

Much more fun.

Worried, I called around and found a dermatologist, a woman reputed to be a great doctor, though on the brusque side.

In other words, a woman of few words.

I hadn't even known such a creature existed.

Obviously, she's the direct opposite of me, but I wasn't looking for love, just to stay alive.

Anyway, the dermatologist suggested that I come in for a mole check.

I agreed, though she'd said it so fast, I thought she'd said "mold check."

Which was probably more accurate.

I'm not getting old, I'm getting mold.

Or maybe I'm molting.

Either way, I went to the dermatologist, who examined the suspicious mole and determined it was benign.


I promised myself never to skip the sunscreen, ever again.

But then the dermatologist frowned behind the contraption that magnified her eyes to two brown marbles. She pointed to my temples and said, "You have quite a lot of keratoses."

Again I didn't understand because she was looking at my forehead, not my toesies. "What did you say?"

"These brownish spots on your temples. You have so many."

Thanks, I thought, but didn't say. "They're from the sun, aren't they?"

"No, that's a common misconception. They're hereditary."

I remembered then that my father used to have them, which might have been the reason I never minded them. Because they reminded me of him.

The dermatologist said, "They're not related to age, but they age you, and I can remove them."


"Hold on." The dermatologist left the office, then returned with a styrofoam cup of what looked like coffee, because a curlicue of steam wafted from inside the cup. Before I could understand what was going on, she swiped a Q-tip inside the cup and pressed it to my temple.

"Ow," I blurted out. "What is that?"

"Liquid nitrogen. It burns, right?"

"Right." I bit my lip as she swiped the Q-tip back in the styrofoam cup and pressed it on a few other places on my temples.

I wanted my mommy, but didn't say so.

Because that would have been immature.

The dermatologist finished up, saying, "That's all for now. Call my office in a week or so and make an appointment to remove the others."

I thanked her and left the office, my forehead a field of red dots, like a constellation that spelled out:


A week later, the red dots had turned brown and fallen off, and in their place was fresh pink skin.

I could see that I looked better, maybe even younger.

But I have to say, I missed looking like my father.

And I think I'll leave the other ones alone.


Recipe Ambition


Everybody knows that the holidays are crazy busy.

But what we don't know is why we make them busier.

Or rather, why I do.

I begin by saying that as of this writing, there are less than two weeks left before Christmas and I have not begun to shop. I've bought some gifts online but I still want to go into an actual store, not only because it's fun, but because I want actual stores to remain open.

This is one thing I've learned in my dotage.

If you want something to exist, you have to support it with actual money. So as much as I love to shop online, I make sure I spend my money in the bricks and mortar.

Vote with your boots.

And your bucks.

So you would naturally think that this is a story about me going shopping for gifts, but it isn't. Because at about the same time, I decided to try a really unusual holiday meal for Christmas.

The holidays are the time for Recipe Ambition.

Please tell me that I'm not the only one who decides that the busiest time of the year is the perfect time to make the fanciest recipe ever, for the first time.

It's worth noting that I first had this idea for Thanksgiving, but I got too tired.

But now that Christmas is coming up, I wanted to give my Recipe Ambition a trial run. The last thing you want to do is cook a new dish at Christmas and have it fall through, so that you end up serving cereal with a side of beer.

And since Francesca and I are vegetarians, we're always looking for something to substitute for turkey, and our days of Tofurkey are over. No disrespect, but Tofurkey reminds you that you want real turkey and we're making a clean break.

In other words, we're going cold turkey on Tofurkey.

I had been reading my recipe books and feeling my Italian heritage, which is the kind of thing that happens at the holidays, when I get nostalgic for hard-core ethnic food that no one in my family ever made, because we got too tired.

Which brings me to fava beans.

You may not have heard of them, except that if you watched Hannibal Lecter, you know he likes fava beans with liver.

But like I say, we're vegetarians.

I had fava beans when Francesca and I went to Italy, and they were hearty and delicious, so when I was in the grocery store before Thanksgiving, I decided they would be my Recipe Ambition. The beans were large, hard, and an ugly greenbrown, kept loose in a plastic container that had an opening on the bottom, which I had never used before. I got a plastic bag, put it under the opening, and released the lever, which was when a zillion beans poured into my bag, clattering like an organic jackpot.

It was way too many but I couldn't figure out how to pour them back.


Excerpted from "I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool"
by .
Copyright © 2017 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

Introduction Lisa 1

Perking Up Lisa 5

We're Having a Baby! Francesca 9

Spot On Lisa 14

Recipe Ambition Lisa 18

Our Ladies of Perpetual Motion Lisa 22

New Year's Meh Francesca 26

Lift and Separate Lisa 30

The Off Switch Lisa 33

Becoming Thirty Francesca 37

Mother Mary and the Eyebrow Lisa 41

Moo Lisa 46

Barking up the Wrong Tree Francesca 50

Question Authority Lisa 55

Something We Can All Agree On Lisa 59

Topsy-Turvy Francesca 63

Adventures in Herpetology Lisa 67

The Scent of a Woman Lisa 71

Pay the Troll Francesca 75

Ball o' Fun Lisa 79

Going Where the Weather Suits My Clothes Lisa 83

Brain Freeze Francesca 87

Leave a Tip Lisa 91

Scrambled Eggs Lisa 95

Anniversary Francesca 99

Batter Up! Lisa 104

Diaper Genie Lisa 108

One-Piece of Mind Francesca 113

World Police Lisa 117

Good Morning! Lisa 121

Blond and Blonder Francesca 126

Potted Lisa 130

Happy Birthday Lisa 135

Pushed Around Lisa 138

Beach Bums Francesca 143

Work Zoned Lisa 148

The American Dream Lisa 152

The View from the Ferry Francesca 156

For the Win Lisa 161

Back to School Lisa 168

Girl Vitamin Francesca 171

Which Spices Would You Take to a Kitchen Island? Lisa 175

Legends of the Fall Lisa 179

Political Partisan Seeks Same Francesca 183

Twelve Hundred of My Closest Friends Lisa 187

Running on Empty Francesca 192

If You're a Woman, They Only Want One Thing Lisa 195

Mother Mary Gets an Idea Lisa 199

Picture Imperfect Francesca 202

iPhonatic Lisa 207

Home Is Where the Bra Comes Off, Part 2 Lisa 210

On Guyatus Francesca 214

Suburban Story Lisa 219

I Like Big Brains and I Cannot Lie Lisa 223

High Note Francesca 227

Collect Them All Lisa 231

It's a Boy! Lisa 235

Remote Control Freak Lisa 239

The Bridal Shower 2.0 Francesca 243

House Dreams Lisa 248

SuperLisa Lisa 251

Hi, My Name Is Francesca 255

Netflixxed Lisa 260

Like a Rolling Book Lisa 265

Sniff Test Francesca 269

Pasta Impasse Lisa 273

Let's Twist Again Lisa 277

Don't Bot with My Heart Francesca 281

Built Ford Tough Lisa 285

Weeding Lisa 288

Keep Calm and Carry On Lisa 292

Drunk Click Francesca 295

The Bottom Line on the Bottom-of-the-Line Lisa 299

Acknowledgments 305

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