Do you remember reading an essay in the New York Times a couple of years ago entitled: “You May Want to Marry My Husband”? It was an incredible tribute written by Amy Rosenthal to her husband before she died at the age of 51 from ovarian cancer. I know, I know, but she’s such a great writer and she lived life so joyfully that it’s worth revisiting. So I was delighted when I finally got around to reading her book Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and found myself chuckling, laughing out loud, and nodding my way through it. I had the best time reading aloud short passages to my sister, who happened to be in town this week.
My sis and I have the most delightful time working side by side in my kitchen. She gets the kitchen table while I’m perched at my computer. We punctuate our work hours by sharing delicious turkey sandwiches, one half each, or munching on a fresh batch of homemade pumpkin muffins—some with chocolate, some with chocolate AND nuts, and some just plain. Anyway, where was I?
Oh, right. The Amy Rosenthal book. It’s a very clever book with a takeoff on the encyclopedia, going through her observations and life experiences from A to Z. Each letter is a springboard for all kinds of commentary. Example:
Under the A’s you have:
My father-in-law informed me that my married name could produce these two anagrams: Hearty Salmon. Nasty Armhole. I cannot tell you how much I love that.
People are either approachers or avoiders. Approachers will dart across a crowded room and enthusiastically state the obvious: “Oh, my God. It’s you! We went to camp together. I haven’t seen you since we were ten!” An avoider, in the same situation, would make no effort whatsoever to reconnect. They reason: So we once knew each other. That in and of itself is not interesting. I have no desire to acknowledge that we once, long ago, roasted marshmallows together. It will only be awkward to make small talk, and our shared campfire history is of no consequence. I see you. And you see me. That is enough.
OR under the letter C you get:
I was walking down Lincoln Avenue when I overheard a crossing guard say to some older gentleman hanging out on the corner, “Yeah, work’s been crazy around here—I’ve been really busy.” I tried to picture the circumstances that would account for this statement. Perhaps when it’s a nice sunny day, crossing guards wake up and say, “Dang! Everyone’s gonna be out walking today-work is going to be insane.”
I just found her book to be totally delightful, thoughtful, inspiring, and a great find.