There's an Italian expression, not an expression, really, just a way of saying something, a useful phrase, probably universal: Non vale la pena, "It's not worth the trouble." But in Italian if you get the gender wrong and say Non vale il pene, you're in trouble. "It's not worth the penis" is what you're saying.... I never quite understood the violent reactions I got, but it didn't matter. I was speaking Italian; I'd broken out of the prison of English. Finally, Signor Cipriani, the English teacher, took me aside and set me straight, but by that time the phrase had become fixed in my head, or on my tongue... It wasn't easy to change. I always had to stop and think: Not il pene but la pena. But you know, sometimes I think it doesn't make much difference, and sometimes I think my way is better. Every woman will know what I mean. ~~ The 16 Pleasures (funny that this passage was written by a man!)
The Sixteen Pleasures by Robert Hellenga -- short read, but gorgeous writing. Story of Margot Harrington, an American who goes to Italy in the 1960s to work as a "Mud Angel". Great book to curl up with if you want to spend the night in with no one to bug ya. Lots of talk of religion, classical art, Italian food and a young woman having the classic international romance with the older, "experienced" Italian lover -- the kind of character that likes to call himself experienced when really it's typically just a euphemism for booty-call connoisseur. Also, I love how Margot talks about "settling" for a career as an antique book restorer. LOL. I thought I settled once when I spent a summer as a barista... hmm, think I could buckle down and "deal" with being a book restorer -- only one of my dream occupations :-P But if you're a hardcore bibliophile like me (and unapologetic about it) who loves not only stories but the paper they're written on and the binding they're captured in, there's lots of those little details given in this story so you should have a lot of fun with this one. The only thing that confused me was why the book flip-flopped between 1st and 3rd person narrative without explanation. Or maybe I missed the explanation in there somewhere.
How To Live With A Man (And Love It!) by Jennifer Worick -- this is sort of a tongue-in-cheek manual for women on how to make co-habitation with your fella more enjoyable, how to be the perfect woman for him, how to get him to lock it down, etc. It features lots of vintage-y 1950s-60s photos and plays off of all those guides that were so popular back in our parents' day. There's lots of common sense & good advice for relationships here, but delivered in a comically vintage way. The talk of using positive reinforcement on your man reminded me of the Doris Day / Bobby Darin movie When A Man Answers (I think that's the one) where she trains her husband to behave better secretly using tips from a dog training manual. Worick suggests such ideas as "schedule a time to be spontaneous, as contrary as that may sound"; or when designing the baby nursery theme you may consider an outer space theme because "aliens are always nifty". :-) But one tip she gives I know to be undeniably false in our house -- "Make baked beans and leave out the bacon. He will never miss that smoky pork product." LOL, well I figure if my fella is bringing home the bacon, least I can do is cook it for him! Judging from the grins he gets when he smells me making it, I can guarantee he'd miss it if I said nope, never again. So there's some fun tips and whatnot here, but my favorite part was just all the cool art & funny (but seriously, these are handy!) charts -- a few examples below:
|I gotta give him favors every time he gets the oil changed?|
Uh-oh... just remembered one of the cars is due! :-S
charts & images from How To Live With A Man by Jennifer Worick
Girls In Trucks by Katie Crouch -- this is the anti-Valentine's Day (sort of) romance I mentioned at the top of this post. Sarah Walters (our heroine of sorts) is Southern born and bred, raised in the members only Camellias club, a debutante trainee circle where girls are trained in etiquette, classic dances, how to walk pretty and speak like a lady and how to catch a husband. And Sarah couldn't be more bored. But she goes through it all because it makes mamma happy. Well, Sarah grows up and finds what a sheltered existence the Camellias held her under. She leaves the South to find her sister in a bi-racial, bi-cultural relationship (something definitely not endorsed by the Camellias), and Sarah herself goes on to have a long-term, toxic relationship. But through all this, she has an honesty and a sense of humor that had me tearing through this book in one night. I was bummed at how she treats the one guy who seems to want to do right by her but she also admits she's screwed up and probably not a healthy choice for him to date. I loved how honest this girl was about herself, even if it wasn't pretty. At times she gets really dark. But that's the way life goes. I have some seriously dark days myself where it would be a pretty big suckfest of gloom for anyone to be around me. Then other days I laugh and say "Damn, life is crazy!" I guess that's why Sarah's darker parts didn't bother me. I've been there. If you check out this book on Amazon, it's gotten some pretty unfavorable reviews but I say give it a shot and decide for yourself. It's not that long a read and you're bound to find something you can relate to here.
He looks up and smiles, and yup, there it is again, that pure-ray-of-sun smile. The kind God makes just to remind us of what He can do...Onstage, the ladies from the black church are singing like they are just positive God is right here, listening. And before yesterday, I'd wonder, How can you be so sure, ladies, how do you know? But I've got the best arm in the world draped around my shoulder, and I get it now. Seriously. So thank you, God. Thanks.
Well, I'll let you get back to your loves, as I get back to mine now. Here's hoping it's a day of chocolate and great books for you all! :-)
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY ;-)
image from How To Live With A Man by Jennifer Worick