In choosing what to read from Moose now that I’m touring a bit for the Jewish Book Fair, I sometimes leave it until the last minute–you know, gauge the crowd. I’m not exactly going to read a passage about slap bracelets and stonewash to a generation that doesn’t know from playing M.A.S.H. (Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House). Certain things just don’t translate out of context, or out of generation.
Today at the Austin JCC, before I took to the stage, I found a good passage about the time I’d missed a teen nutrition class in Fran Levine’s basement and was hurled into the adult world of food therapy for a weekly weigh-in session. Perfect. I’d read about the time I asked Fran for advice on how to deal with the fact that my mother always bought my father a goodie for after dinner, and how it drove me crazy because he’d hide them from me, but I’d always find them. It was a funny scene, in particular, as such a young girl, to be in a church basement somewhere hearing adults confess their eating sins. A woman ate a jar of fruit spread but didn’t think condiments "counted." One woman was a Holocaust survivor and couldn’t leave food over on her plate. One man got on the scale and said the letters, "M.S" to Fran, hoping she’d deduct three pounds from his weight. He’d seen her do it for other clients before. "Henry," Fran told him, "M.S. stands for menstrual cycle."
Cute story, I thought–you know, to read to a crowd of women who could, whether or not they’ve ever had body image issues, relate. Except as I read silently, half-way through the passage, I realized, at the bottom of the page a "scene" was coming. Words I didn’t want to read aloud just after reciting a prayer over the bread.
"I always find whatever he’s hidden and eat some. The other day I found an apple pie in his bedroom dresser!" I didn’t mention the fact that I’d gone in there to grab his Truly Tasteless Jokes book. I’d read passages for detailed scenarios then masturbate to words like "bush," "spread," and "cream."
When it was my turn to address the crowd of over 250 women, I decided instead to read a "dressing room" scene with my mother and skipped the "self loving" moment above in favor of a "self-doubt" moment about fart sounds and pruning breasts because well, people were, after all, eating.