Penny Candy

Friday, March 6, 2009

I had a much longer book picked out for today, but that plan fell apart. Or, as my sister loves to say, "The plans have changed." (If you've never watched the movie Meet Me In St. Louis, that last sentence won't amuse you at all). I planned on waking up earlier than usual so I would have extra reading time - but instead, I woke up feeling really sick, after having slept for 11 hours (no, that's not a typo). I attempted to read the long book anyway, and managed to get through the first 70 pages, although my brain was feeling foggy so I ended up having to read pages 1- 54 over again after realizing that I hadn't retained anything that I just read. Mid-way through the day I decided to graciously accept defeat (okay, so maybe it wasn't so gracious - it's possible I might have whined and complained about how bad I feel for an hour or so before deciding to switch to another book). So I chose instead a much shorter book - and settled on Penny Candy because it's a funny book and humor is supposed to be good for the immune system.

My copy of Penny Candy doesn't have a dust jacket, and I it's out of print so I couldn't find a description of it on any of the book websites I normally go to when there's no description on the back of the book - so you'll just have to suffer through my pitiful attempt at summarizing the book; It's kind of like an Erma Bombeck book - it's kind of the precursor to Erma Bombeck, or I guess it would be more accurate to say that Erma Bombeck followed in the tradition that Jean Kerr started. - After that description I think you can see why I never got very good grades on book reports. I'm not good at summarizing books unless I can fall back on sarcasm and talking about how the book reminds me of my own life (but then I don't suppose I need to tell you that, now do I dear readers) - and I learned the hard way that teachers aren't especially fond of book reports that are filled with sarcasm.

If you're wondering why the name Jean Kerr sounds familiar to you (and I'm sure you're probably not, but I couldn't figure out how to start this paragraph, so I just went with pretending like you're on the edge of your seat in anticipation of who that Jean Kerr person is, "Jean Kerr, does she play racquetball at the club on 4th Street? No, no, no, perhaps I know her from the PTA.") - she wrote the book Please Don't Eat the Daisies which was turned into a movie starring Doris Day. Because of that I had Doris Day's voice stuck in my head the whole time I was reading this book - and since so many of the Erma-Bombeck-Jean-Kerr-type books have similar literary style, I do the same with all books like this. I like to think that Erma would have been flattered that I always read her books and picture her looking just like Doris Day - which is a very odd thing to think about, but that's what life is like in my mind.

The book opens with Kerr discussing how most of her fan mail comes from children and post-operatives who received one of her books as a gift and wrote to assure her that her books are "welcome because their lack of bulk makes them easy to hold on new incisions without risk to the sutures." - So I'm not post-operative, but I am feeling sick enough to be able to test out the theory that her books are lacking in bulk - and I find that I agree with Kerr's post-operative fans. It's always difficult to read a heavy book while sick - but this book was light as air, and even during the times when I felt too tired to hold the book up, it was small enough to prop up on the comforter mound I created to free me from the tyranny (did I mention I'm a teensy bit dramatic when I'm sick) of actually having to hold up my own book.

Here's my favorite passage from the book; While discussing the last time she went to see a play - "I won't tell you the whole plot. But it was about this young man who was so disturbed that he turned up in the second act wearing a dress. I don't know what he was disturbed about. But I know what I was disturbed about. He was wearing my dress. I mean the one I had on. There it was, the same check, the same little pique collar, the same dreary buttons down the front. Except for the fact that I wear my hair shorter and I'm getting quite gray, we could have been twins. My first instinct was to flee the premises immediately, perhaps on the pretext that I was suffering appendicitis pains. But it occurred to me that if I dashed up the center aisle looking precisely like the leading man I might be regarded as part of the entertainment."

So, I learned two things today: 1. Even when I feel like crap I'm still capable of reading an entire book and writing about it (and the fact that I didn't enjoy any minute of the experience is neither here nor there) and 2. Sometimes it's better not to stick rigidly to the plan, especially when the plan was to read a book that's almost 400 pages on a day when all I want to do is crawl under the covers, eat pudding, and sleep. Well actually, I also learned a third thing today; I am a very bad speller when I'm sick - so I'm feeling very grateful right now for spellcheck, without which you probably would have given up on reading this blog entry before ever reaching the second paragraph.