Still Hungry -- After All These Yearsby Richard Simmons, David Ricketts (Editor), Jenifer Catalano (Editor)
On a sweltering New Orleans evening in 1948, Shirley Simmons, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, had an overwhelming craving for Chinese food. But she would never get the eggroll she'd longed for; she went into labor in the restaurant. Sixteen hours later, her youngest son, Milton T. Simmons, was born. And so begins the saga of fitness guru, Richard Simmons and his
On a sweltering New Orleans evening in 1948, Shirley Simmons, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, had an overwhelming craving for Chinese food. But she would never get the eggroll she'd longed for; she went into labor in the restaurant. Sixteen hours later, her youngest son, Milton T. Simmons, was born. And so begins the saga of fitness guru, Richard Simmons and his lifelong love affair with food.
Along the way he's helped millions of Americans with their battle of weight loss. Many know him through his groundbreaking infomercial products like Deal-A-Meal, Get Down The Pounds, and his exciting new Move, Groove and Lose program. Still more have enjoyed his best-selling low-fat cookbooks Farewell to Fat and Sweetie Pie.
Richard Simmons has dedicated his life to helping others. Now for the first time ever, he reveals in this humorous, moving, and candid autobiography why he's Still Hungry After All These Years.
- GT Publishing Corporation
- Publication date:
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- 6.45(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.14(d)
Read an Excerpt
An Excerpt from Still Hungry -- After All These Years
"Hello? Lenny? It's me. It's your favorite brother calling."
"Dicky, you're my only brother. What's new?"
"Did I tell you I'm working on another book?"
"Oh. You're doing another book. What is it? A salad book? Is it a casserole book? I just loved your other two."
"No, no. It's not a cookbook. I'm fifty now, you know. So, I'm doing my autobiography."
Had Lenny really hung up on me? I hit the redial button. "Lenny, what happened? We got disconnected. Please, just listen to me. So I was saying, I'm doing a story about me and my relationship with food." And then I mumbled very fast, with my hand over the receiver, "And I'm going to include a little bit about mother and dad and you. Okay. And so anyway..."
"Wait! Wait! Dicky? Promise me that I'll see everything that goes into this book -- before it's printed."
"Lenny! Listen to me. This is my autobiography. If you want to write your own, then write your own!"
"No. I don't want to write my own. I just want to make sure everything you have in yours is right."
"Okay. Don't worry. It'll be just the way I remember it."
"The way you remember it? Oh, no! Then I'll really want to read every word."
"Okay, Lenny. I promise I'll check everything with you."
"Yes, I promise. I love you."
"No! You didn't say it like you meant it."
"Dicky, I love you, too. Bye."
For seventeen years now I've stayed in the same room at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in New Orleans. From the tall, small-paned balcony windows, I can look out onto my past.
Down the street is the praline store where I used to work in grade school and on into high school. Across the street is the bar where Napoleon was offered refuge in 1814. And if I lean out to the right, I can just make out the steps of 926 St. Louis Street. It's the house where I grew up as a child, with my mother and father -- Shirley and Leonard -- and my older brother, Lenny.
I'm back in New Orleans, my hometown. It's a city so full of food and music. All our neighbors were exotic dancers and musicians who worked two blocks away on Bourbon Street. When I went to sleep at night as a little kid, I could hear them playing the music from the clubs -- it was my little lullaby. I had quite a beginning.
I'm here to visit my mother, Shirley. I used to come home at least once a month. Now, I'm here more often. To be honest, she hasn't been doing well. She's homebound now, and every time I see her, she becomes more of a shadow. Once an adult, twice a child. It's hard for me to face all this.
At dusk, I leave the hotel and travel through the French quarter, past places that bring back lots of memories of my growing up in the Vieux Carré, which literally means "Old Square." It's a ten-minute ride to where Shirley lives. I find her in her room, lying in bed. She is sleeping peacefully next to Brent, her twelve-year-old Dalmation. He never lets her out of his sight. The two of them even go into the bathroom together. Instead of waking her, I take her hand and kiss it, holding on tightly. She looks so small and fragile, a delicate china doll. She is eighty-seven pounds -- and for the first time, her age matches her weight.
I sit quietly and look around. My brother and I fill this room, in pictures and framed clippings, going all the way back to when we were babies. I don't think my mother ever threw anything out. There are some pictures of my father and Shirley, too. But my mother was clearly devoted to her two boys.
In the corner, an old-fashioned fan spins noisily. The base is black and made of heavy metal, and the thick blades push lots of air around. They don't make 'em like that anymore. From the day my father brought it home and repaired the broken cord over fifty years ago, that fan has been turning, cooling us on hot Louisiana nights. If only that fan could talk, oh the stories it would tell!
It was the summer of 1948 and New Orleans was hot, one of the hottest summers anybody could remember. The big black fan was whirling, and Shirley, in her capri pants and loose, pink cotton smock, was sitting in front of it, trying to cool off. Her legs rested on the fringed ottoman. Being eight and a half months pregnant in humid, sticky Louisiana was not fun.
Shirley had given birth to her first son, Lenny Jr. -- my older brother -- only twenty months earlier, on the thirtieth of October. Then it had been cool. But now, beads of sweat ran down her forehead. Her thick Russian sable hair was braided from ear to ear and piled high on her head.
One thing was for sure -- making dinner was out of the question. There'd be no cooking over a hot stove tonight. Besides, she'd been having the strangest cravings all day. All she could think about now, through the squeaky noise of the spinning fan blades, was a plate of shrimp foo young from Gin's Restaurant -- and maybe an egg roll.
Shirley had just put her head back and shut her eyes to rest when the front door opened. Her husband was home.
"Len, let's go out for Chinese food tonight. I think our biscuit in the oven needs an egg roll." That sounded good to Len. He didn't feel like cooking, either.
Shirley, a glamorous woman, never left the house unless she was in full makeup -- foundation, eyeliner, lashes, blush, and deep, lush lipstick applied ever so delicately with her retractable lip brush. Applying makeup was no easy task for her these days. Her growing midsection made it difficult for her to get close to her vanity mirror. But still, Shirley always looked like a flawless star from the cover of a movie magazine.Fifteen minutes later, Shirley was balancing in her four-inch heels, quite an accomplishment for a woman who stood four foot ten and who could no longer see her toes. Holding little Lenny's hand and guided by her handsome husband -- a dead ringer for Fred Astaire -- Shirley led her family down the street, the three short blocks to Gin's.
Gin's Restaurant served the best Chinese food in the French quarter, and Shirley could hardly wait to get those chopsticks in her hands. She wanted her egg roll. Mr. Gin, the owner, always wore a heavily starched apron that draped all the way to his shoes. He was five feet tall -- petite like Shirley -- and probably weighed the same as he had when he was fourteen. He greeted every customer with a big smile, always bowing, almost as though his shirt or apron was caught on something. He just looked like Mr. Happiness, smiling and laughing.
"So very good to see you all," Mr. Gin said to Shirley, beaming. "Oh, little Lenny is growing so fast. And, oh, Miss Shirley going to have a big, big baby real soon." Mr. Gin steered them toward a table near the front window.
"Oh, come sit down here, Miss Shirley. What can I bring you -- boy or girl?"
Everyone laughed. Leonard answered, "We don't care. Just as long as our baby's healthy -- and loves Chinese food. Isn't that right, honey?"
Leonard caught the look on Shirley's face. It was time. The fortune cookie had broken. Shirley was about to give birth.
The room went crazy. Mr. Gin rushed outside to the middle of the street, trying to wave down a cab. Little Lenny started crying loudly. Lenny Sr. panicked, rushing back and forth between the front door and the table where Shirley struggled to get up. And me -- I was on my way.
The Checker cab pulled up to the emergency entrance of Touro Infirmary, just a quick five-minute ride from the restaurant. In no time, Shirley was on a gurney, off to the delivery room. In the waiting room, Leonard took off his beige herringbone jacket, folded it up, and made a pillow for Lenny. He then took a Pall Mall out of the pack he always kept in his shirt pocket, and lit up. It was going to be a long night.
As he looked around the waiting room at all the other men, pacing and making baby chitchat, Leonard noticed something right away. Every guy there was about twenty-three or twenty-four, and some even younger. Leonard was fifty-one years old. He froze at the thought of bringing up two boys at the half-century mark of his life. He worried that as he got older he might not be able to keep up with them. And he worried about Shirley. She was thirty-seven, and in 1948, having a baby that late in life was sort of a rarity. After Lenny Jr. was born, the doctors advised Shirley not to have any more children. She had such a tiny frame that another pregnancy at her age could be difficult and maybe dangerous. But they'd both wanted a big family, and a year after having Lenny Jr., Shirley had been overjoyed to discover she was pregnant once again.
It was a difficult labor. Some pain medication wasn't given properly, and we almost lost Shirley -- and, maybe, almost me. My delivery was finally by cesarian, at 11:18 A.M. the following morning, July 12. I weighed 6 pounds, 6 1/2 ounces, and I was a little more than two weeks early.
"God's given you a beautiful, healthy baby boy," the doctor told her. "He's got a full head of curly dark hair. The nurses can't get over it. They've never seen such a mane of hair before."
When Shirley finally brought me home from the hospital, the whole neighborhood did what it knew best. What else? They threw a big pot-luck party! For some reason, there just weren't a lot of kids around the quarter. So when there was a new baby, watch out -- it was reason to celebrate. From my very beginning, I knew about parties and food!
I was born nameless -- Len and Shirley thought there would be another two weeks to go. They now pondered long and hard about a name for their round, bubbly tot.
"How about Milton, after my older brother?" Leonard suggested. "He's a good man and he's very smart."
So Milton it was, and Milton I am -- until years later, when I became Richard, then Dicky, then Richard again....
Excerpted by permission of GT Publishing. Copyright © 1999 The Richard Simmons Living Trust.
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to enjoy this book! Very well written in Richard's humor - very easy reading with a 'can't put it down' style! Even if you just want to read it for pure entertainment, you'll be happy you did!