I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

Our books for 2022 are part of an anatomical theme and each includes a body part in the title. The titles were presented as part of the game Operation: Book Club Edition using many of the game’s original idioms.

(Book 143) Sharon hosted our March meeting; she sent out this invitation. Subject: I Feel Bad About My Neck . . . . . . . neck, chins, droopy eye lids, extra 20 pounds, etc, etc, etc.    You are invited to an evening of celebrating the wit and humor of Nora Ephron, and as previously mentioned, you are encouraged to wear the neck covering of your choice.  In honor of our Nora discussion, our spiritual entertainment host will be Lee Bailey, who will guide us though the genuine joy of sharing a meal with family or friends.  Theme–an effortless early spring dinner for the book club ladies.

As soon as we stepped off the elevator, we knew we were in for a delicious evening. An amazing aroma was wafting down the hall in the actual shape of a finger beckoning us toward Sharon’s apartment. You see it in cartoons all the time but, this was real.  Even though Melissa’s friend, Lee Bailey said “Never Serve Appetizers,” Sharon broke with such nonsense and served cruidité, root vegetable chips, crackers and a pimiento spread made from the Craig Claiborne recipe. We started talking about the book, story by story. The first, the title story had most of us dressed in turtlenecks or scarves, but our hostess outshone us  all in a lovely scarf covering her head and neck (almost befitting last month’s book.) Many of us share the same hatred for our purse that Nora described in her second story. Chris responded quickly to the topic with a Bermuda Triangle-like description of her bag; Karen told us about the origin of the Hermes Birkin Bag; we all harrumphed a little bit at the idea of carrying a plastic bag to put your purse in, just in case it rained, and I admitted to having worked up such a hatred for my purse that I left it on the L on the way out to O’Hare. “Serial Monogamist” included a discussion of the famous Lee Bailey. Melissa had all his books to pass around while we told Insane Culinary Tales. Let’s test our Senior Memory Skills and play a matching game at the top of the next page! Draw lines to match the menu to the chef.

  • Insane Culinary Tale
  • Two parts of a lobster hopped around separately in the kitchen avoiding the bouillabaisse.
  • Meatloaf eaten after the Pyrex dish it was baked in broke coming out of the oven.
  • Saw a live chicken “getting ready” for dinner, then no longer had an appetite
  • Black and Decker Sauerbraten
  • Wounded while wielding a clam knife, she had to eat dinner holding her bandaged finger up in the air.
  • Coming to a table of rings of flour and eggs to make pasta after two hours of doing funny stuff.
  • Cornish hens with Really Wild Rice Stuffing
  • Serving Oxtail Soup that caused lips to stick together while a cockroach provided a free floor/wall show.
  • Member Who Cooked It Up
  • Chris
  • Chris
  • Chris
  • Marcia
  • Melissa
  • Susan
  • Teresa
  • Teresa

After the crazy cooking stories it was time for an  extraordinary meal. Sharon served a salad of Gotham Greens Baby Butter Lettuce, a Mediterranean sheet pan recipe of chicken, roasted potatoes and caramelized vegetables. It was all so good. Conversation moved to “On Maintenance” which caused many of us to admit that COVID moved us into the category of looking like “a person who no longer cares.”    For dessert we enjoyed two versions of a Dorie Greenspan recipe — one full gluten and one gluten-free Carrot Cake. Here is Sharon serving  dessert at her lovely spring table.

Conversation wandered away from the book several times, as it will, but I think we all agreed that the last chapter moved from light-hearted fun to the hardest of all subjects and many of us were moved to tears by her words. I cried at the loss and disbelief of “I’m still here without her.” (My translation was I can’t believe I’m still here without them – my brothers.) I tried to buy into Nora’s  advice to leave no expensive bath oil behind, but rather splurge while we can. I gave our hostess a gift of Nora’s favorite Dr. Hauschka’s Lemongrass Shower Cream (Nora’s was bath oil, but Amazon couldn’t get that to me in time) and all of the girls received some Champagne bath sugar, and a tiny bottle of champagne’s Italian cousin Prosecco to treat themselves. It was doing double duty as their thanks for getting their votes for next year in so early!

Star Ratings for this time:  Susan: 5, Mary: 3, Karen: 3, Sharon: 4.2, Melissa: 4, Geri: 3, Linda: 4.5, Chris: 4.5, Teresa: 3.5, Karen thought Marcia would probably give it 4 stars, and I saw on Goodreads that Rosalie gave it 2 stars, which gives this book an average of 3.7 stars. I think Linda and Chris said they wanted to be on a sub-committee to decide what the star system really means in our terms. Goodreads uses 1. Didn’t like it.   2. It was OK.   3. It was good.   4. It was really good. and  5. It was amazing.

Many other news items were discussed and it seems we need a section for Happy News and News We Could Do Without. In Happy News, Moira was married to ZB (??) on March 5th at the Botanical Gardens. I put this in Happy News even though Moira’s mother-in-law is likely planning seriously dangerous evil things to happen to Geri ,because it’s all Geri’s fault that her son is staying in America. Other Happy Though Unplanned News, Alex is pregnant with Susan’s third grandchild! 

In News We Could Do Without, Jeff was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and Sharon was way too conversant on the topic because Rich is going through the same thing. Add to that the fact that Marcia had to leave because Gwyn had to be admitted to ICU and we had a heck of a night. Thanks to Susan for giving Karen a ride.

When I was a child I pouted my way into the ditch across the road from our rural home. I stayed in the car because I’d been good in church but Mom didn’t take us to get candy bars. I managed to put the car in neutral and it rolled backwards down our driveway, across the road and into the ditch. Mom ran out, hugged me, asked me “Where were you heading?” then told my siblings to take me out to the backyard so I could look at the turtle. I have a recollection of looking at the turtle but what I really remember is the repetition of the phrase “Look at the turtle! Look at the turtle!” It’s become the family’s way of dealing with trauma — distraction. Well, distraction and Dilly Bars, which are a chocolate-dipped form of distraction. I recount this story to say thank goodness we had Stevie Ray in a babushka last night to distract us from the truth of the last chapter and the News We Could Do Without!  Thanks to our wonderful hostess and her canine assistant.

Next month Mary will host Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk. The date was set for Wednesday, April 20th, but Chris has a conflict with that date. [It was changed to April 27.]

Thanks for hanging in there with me, girls!

Teresa, Fearless Leader (as long as there’s a turtle or a dog in a babushka nearby)