The Eternal Husband by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

(Book 132) Our big furry Russian hats (ushanka) are off to Rosalie for bringing us back together live and in person for a remarkably satisfying evening with phenomenal food. She served all of Dostoyevsky’s favorites, starting with salmon and creme cheese spirals served on cucumbers or crackers she made herself. Three varieties of cheese were available, a triple cream, a strong cheddar, and a less aggressive, unassuming little cheddar, or so they were called by some of the girls who were already well into enjoying the evening. Following the appetizers, we were served (in her wedding gift consommé dishes) a cold borscht topped with a tiny dollop of sour cream. We all intend to hound her for her impromptu recipe (she looked at five recipes and invented her own) because it was genius. After the soup we were served a wedge of lettuce with fresh raspberries and a raspberry vinaigrette. The main course was a delicious stroganoff served over noodles with a side of green beans topped with toasted almonds. For dessert, Rosalie treated us to a Dobosh Torte, from Bennison’s bakery, mad of five thin layers of yellow cake filled and iced with rum-flavored chocolate buttercream. The top was decorated (and this is copy and pasted from the website) with caramel glazed marzipan fans! We discussed those fans fairly vigorously, but no one came up with marzipan. The feast was amazing, but what about the book?

Not so much. In what may have been our shortest discussion — Rosalie went into the kitchen and missed it — it was determined that it was the longest 122 pages we’ve ever read. Susan said she has a policy of giving any book 100 pages to make its appeal and she was irked to realize she had only 22 pages to read to finish, after she would have tossed it aside. None of us could understand anyone’s motivations for coming, for going, for saying what they did, or not saying what they seemed to want to say. But, as Linda noted for the low, low price of 122 drawn out pages, we earned the right to say we’ve read Dostoyevsky.

We didn’t have a question tonight about husbands, but our conversation conveniently veered to brushes with famous and mostly handsome guys who might turn a girl’s head away from her lawfully wedded husband: (dream music)

It all started when we were discussing other Dostoyevsky we’d read, I mentioned reading The Brothers Karmamozov and seeing a stage adaptation in Stratford,

Geri mentioned the film and that she had a huge crush on Yul Brenner; she was given some flack for crushing on a bald guy and added Paul Newman to her list of crushes,

Melissa said that she got pregnant because of Paul Newman, not by him, but because of him,

and then Susan tried to make Melissa jealous by recalling that Paul Newman once served Susan a specially-made cheeseburger at the race track;

Rosalie told us of a summer in Michigan when Charlton Heston asked if he could pet the baby skunk she was holding (which may have been a euphemism, but we don’t think so)

Marcia bumped into Harrison Ford at the Starbucks on Halsted, but luckily no coffee was spilled on his spandex,

Sharon spent some time on a beach, possibly working, with the record producer Lou Adler,

then not content with sharing a skunk with Heston, Rosalie was arrested outside Nellis Air Force base and handcuffed with Martin Sheen,

and in the midst of a wild thunderstorm, Linda was part of a foursome with Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky) — oh, did I forget to say golfing, a golfing foursome,

and then I told the story about my beautiful sister, Susanne and I were in Las Vegas for an ASHA convention and she had to send a message to Johnny Bench that we didn’t do a sister act, though I’ve always loved that song with the feather fans from White Christmas,

and then Geri tried to break up Phil Donahue’s marriage to Marlo Thomas once when she was on his show and dazzled him with a brilliant answer to a question he asked the audience,

then Susan met Dean Martin and with the love of a good woman was able to keep him from a life of crime,

and finally Mary was going to tell about the time that she was body surfing in Hawaii and was stung by a strange sea creature and Tom Selleck was the one to pull her out of the water and give her mouth to mouth resuscitation even though that isn’t all that helpful for a sea creature sting and then they spent the rest of her vacation in his trailer on the set, but them Mary remembered that she’d rather tell about the time she had a drink with Ernie Banks at Trader Vic’s and he gave her a cocktail napkin with his signature on it to remember him by.

It was good to be back together. Our next meeting will be at Linda’s home on Tuesday, May 18, to discuss Please Look After Mom by Shin Kyung-sook. Come prepared with a favorite Mom story.