Tag Archives: Elizabeth Gilbert

A Letter to My Daughter about “Eat, Pray, Love”

22 Aug

Dear daughter,

One day, many years from now, you may find yourself feeling lonely and confused.  Perhaps after a painful divorce or failed love affair.  

Make the most of it.  Look directly into the camera and ask:

Who am I?   Just me, without some guy by my side?

You will realize that a year of exotic (and celibate!) travel is just the ticket for finding yourself;  and, then, clever thing that you are, you will convince a book publisher to bankroll your heroic year of feminine self-discovery.

You go girl.

Now, nothing mends a broken heart faster than a best-selling book and a movie deal, so please do mold your experiences to meet the expectations of our projected demographic: a sizeable subsection of American society that I would prefer to leave unidentified.   It’s a reliable market, reliably interested in itself.

We want to make this journey with you.  We want gorgeous locations.  We want quirky characters along the way, with funny accents and bad teeth.

Let’s have that scene where you struggle to fit into your skinny jeans, but, then, later in the book, you get your yoga body back.  (This is “Rocky” for women!) 

Shall we break it down a bit more?  Three countries, three themes:

  1. Italy (Pasta-Pizza-Gelato Binge): It’s a well-established fact: Step one in any girl’s recovery from heartbreak is food, preferably ice cream.  After a break-up, we retreat to our beds in fuzzy pajamas, a spoon and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in hand.  Act I expands (and expands!) on this theme.
  2. India  (Get thee to an Ashram!):   Our target audience likes spirituality more than religion.  Anyway, in the hierarchy of coolness of religions, this India stuff is way high.  At the ashram, at first, you fear that your cocktail-party volubility will hold you back.  Then, near the end of Act II, you have a real spiritual breakthrough, strains of Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” playing in the background.  Your mind now liberated by meditation, your body liberated by yoga, let’s hit the beach!
  3. Bali (“Reader, I Married Him” or some variation on that line):  Our focus groups have expressed interest in two possible plot resolutions in Act III:  Either you realize contentment in single womanhood or you find true love.  We like both.  Could go either way.  Except it can’t, because we’ve already seen the movie preview.  Remember Chekhov’s rule of dramatic structure:
  4. If there’s a Javier Bardem on the screen in the preview,
    he must fire by the end of the show. 

    Voila: Happy Ending.

I tell you, this is a winner.

Next, while the iron is hot, write a book about your embrace of matrimony. 

And, soon, we will be ready for your exploration of conception, pregnancy and childbirth. 

Working title:

Love, Eat, Pray

With deepest affection and entrepreneurial spirit,
your mother

Steven Slater and I Skip Out on the Whole Darn Thing

12 Aug

First, a teaser: 

My next post will be a review (fair and balanced) of Elizabeth Gilbert’s
Eat, Pray, Love. 
I think of it as:
Eat a Little Pasta, Do A Little Yoga, Get Down Tonight.

This story is about that hero of our times, Steven Slater.  Or, rather, about myself as an earlier incarnation of Mr. Slater.

I dedicate these words to Cheri, who also walked off her first job, though she was much younger than the actual Mr. Slater or his teenage precursor when they went AWOL.

 

I bet you’ve walked out on a job too.  Or, at least, thought about it.

 My true story:

I got my first job when I was 15. 

OK, fine, my sister (then 18) got me the job. 

It was at a submarine shop called The Whole Darn Thing.  Think Jimmy John’s or Subway, but imagine the girls behind the counter in white polyester dresses and colorful aprons.  Gorgeous. 

We closed at nine o’clock on Saturday night, so you could bring a change of clothes to work and still go out with friends.  The piquant girls from the sub shop, redolent of onions and hot peppers.

I was not old enough to operate the meat slicer–that was my sister’s job.  So, I was put on the cash register.

It’s lunch rush.  The place is packed.  I’m ringing up subs as fast as I can, but I can’t keep up with the sandwich makers or the impatient customers.  And I’m supposed to get fountain drinks, too?  I keep ringing up the wrong sandwiches, and on those old cash registers, it’s a hassle to fix those mistakes.  (I think that was called an over-ring. ) Anyway, after a few of those, I’m feeling stupid and flustered and overwhelmed. 

This having a job thing, it’s totally out of control.

Next, I hear: “You charged me for a Number 21, but I ordered a tuna sub.”

I look up.  I close the cash register drawer.   That’s it.

I’m outta here. 

Had there been a beer within reach, I like to think that I would have grabbed it. 

I can still see my sister’s face as I pass her at the meat-slicer, removing my apron, and now looking very swish in my white polyester. 

I launch the emergency chute, walk through the front door, slide down onto the tarmac and walk all the way home.  No looking back.  (All parallels with Mr. Slater’s story end here.)

Do you need a postscript?

You know why we  love Steven Slater.  Taking this job and shoving it is a timeless fantasy.  All the more appealing in the economic mess that has made all of us feel like scared, flustered, overwhelmed 15-year-olds.