[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published November 13, 2022] ©2022
One of my greatest joys in retirement is to read at least three books at week, as opposed to the two pages a year I read during my 12 years of divorced working momhood. I’ve noticed that some of the books I read have a Readers Guide at the end should it be a book club selection.
I published a book back in 2014 (Inga Tells All: A saga of single parenthood, second marriage, surly fauna, and being mistaken for a Swedish porn star) and frankly, it didn’t occur to me to write a Reader’s Guide. So I am going to do so now. My autobiographical book had the same characters (way too) familiar to Light readers over the last 14 years: my (second) husband Olof; my sons Rory and Henry, my granddog, Winston (now gone over the rainbow bridge), and my first husband.
So here might be some questions that would stimulate discussion:
(1) Inga chronicles her early divorce life in her Dates From Hell series. Which of her early dates was the biggest creep: the criminal lawyer with a cocaine habit and herpes? The commodities broker whose decrepit car required Inga to climb through the passenger side window in a short skirt? The newly-certified massage therapist whose date proposal was giving her a massage at half price? The guy who, tasked with renting a movie for the evening on her Video Library membership, rented “American Girls in Heat, Part II?”
(2) Inga maintains in her book that “Olof has always maintained that I married him for his skills with a sewer augur, but this is only partially true.” After reading this book, do you agree that the definition of “romance” for single women with young toilet-ravaging children is more about plumbing and home repair skills?
(3) Inga and Olof met as exchange students spending their senior year of high school in Brazil. They could have married each other the first time around. Is there any accounting for the stupidity of youth?
(4) Inga’s older son, Rory, was adopted and turned out to be a diabolically creative child with world class skills at psychological warfare against adults, most especially his mother. Which of Rory’s many escapades would you consider the most inventive: the Jolly Jumper baby brother slingshot disaster? The dropping the big rock down the chimney onto the metal grate two feet from where Mom was reading prank? The spray-painting Henry silver crisis? The Cleveland airport catastrophe? The Jack in the Box ketchup packets under the tires spraying the black sports car affair? The Philadelphia airport debacle? The 15-inch rubber penis in the guest bath during mom’s dinner party event? The Bomb Squad incident?
(5) When people adopt, they like to believe that how a child turns out is 5% nature and 95% nurture. Rory has turned into a devoted husband and father with a successful career, but still likes to keep his hand in things, as Inga chronicled in the chapter about Rory hijacking her library account when he was 32, reserving such titles as “The complete illustrated guide to lesbian sex” and “How to cope with your colitis and hemorrhoids.” Is a person’s nature fixed at birth?
(6) In a chapter entitled “The son also rises”, Inga writes about her younger son Henry receiving a prestigious scholar-athlete award, and, when interviewed by local papers, was asked if there was anyone he wished to thank. He replied, “I’d like to thank my dad for teaching me how to have fun.” Dad had never driven a single sports practice carpool or helped on a single school project. Was Inga justified in fantasizing over the next few weeks about poisoning Henry’s lunches?
(7) Inga’s chapter on how to be a good mother-in-law was summed up in two words: “Shut. Up.” Agree or disagree?
(8) Inga’s granddog Winston was prone to mount guests’ legs under the dinner table. Why do you think dogs prefer women’s legs over men’s?
(9) In a chapter entitled “There’s more cookin’ than the food” Inga writes about Olof having an emotional affair with a southern cooking show host. Every time she said, “mah bourbon pecahn pah” Olof’s eyes would go out of focus. Can this be considered culinary adultery?
(10) Inga was dismayed to realize that all the TV shows she likes are sponsored by anti-depressants. Should she be taking Cymbalta?
(11) Inga is an avowed technomoron and is hoping to die before she has to upgrade to another iPhone, for which everything she currently knows how to do will cease to work. Olof, an engineer, insists that the reasons that phones don’t come with nice written instruction manuals anymore is because the working of them is “intuitive.” Is Inga justified in smiting Olof when he says that?
(12) Inga has written a chapter called “Why it takes four women eighty emails to set a lunch date.” Is this true of book clubs too? Or is the issue there why some people show up without having read the book just to drink wine and announce, “Can someone summarize it for me?” Should those people be permanently banished and never allowed to join a book club again? Yours especially?