book club.

Last night turned out quite enjoyable. And yes, there was wine. And yes, there was a nicely decorated dining room with a table we all sat around. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I wasn't sure what to expect from this ladies only book club. This month's meeting was held in lovely house in a lovely neighborhood. It's just one neighborhood over from mine, but up a couple of rungs higher on the ladder. The community is tucked away and unless you were going there purposefully, you might never find it. Soon after we arrived, the rest of the women arrived as well. There was a lot of chatter about daily lives and catching up - no mention of the book. The host made some incredibly delicious pizza, and when we inquired about her culinary mastery, she clued us in on her use of Trader Joe's pizza dough. I made a mental note to pick some up on my next trip.

At some point, maybe a few hours in and several bites of food into the evening, we began to discuss the book. It was good conversation and everyone was sincere about listening to the ideas of others. There was a curious moment in our discussion when one of the women made a remark about how irritated she was with the husband in the story.

Quick background: the author, Gretchen Rubin, decides that in her quest to find more happiness, she resolves to tackle a new resolution each month. Rubin is a self-described neurotic, picky, nagging wife. She chronicles her journey for a year, sharing with readers her successes and failures, and what she ultimately learns about happiness, a sort of Wizard of Oz kind of realization - it was always there. 

This woman's observation of the husband caused the rest of us at the table, 3 (the other two were in the kitchen talking about OkCupid, a free dating website), to react pretty strongly. We three had read it the other way around. We thought the husband in the story was a saint for putting up with the author's crazy ways. The book club woman reiterated how annoyed she was when she read that the husband just lay on the bed while the couple's child ran amok. This thread of conversation lead into a discussion about relationships and our expectations.

I once heard someone say of relationships, don't expect, accept. I think there's tremendous value in that kind of recognition when you're involved with someone. Let's face it, few people really ever change. Some may change initially because they're head over heals in love and don't care to rock what yacht they believe they're cruising. Eventually true colors shine through and the genuine man behind the curtain is revealed. The book club woman mentioned that she expects her husband to do certain things, and he complains that her expectations are just too high. We prodded a little further for examples. She cited her husband's inability to recognize a mess and take it upon himself to clean it up. We then asked her - if you asks him, does he then chip in and help? She responded by saying she felt that she shouldn't have to ask. While we agreed with her that this would be nice, it wasn't realistic. Clearly he wasn't as fastidious when it came to tidiness. Another woman, a super cute pregnant woman - you know the kind that looks pulled together and has just a basketball belly? yeah, that kind of cute - chimed in with a great observation: This need for clean was the woman's and she alone needed to own it as hers. By owning this, she had a couple of choices: 1. Just take care of it herself. 2. Be okay with asking him to help. In my book, this observation hit the mark. I also believe there is a line in the sand where this sort of acceptance doesn't work. If Big Red were a heroin addict, there's no way in hell I would casually accept this.

This tangential conversation that was sparked by the book made me realize once again that a story does not exist without readers, that every reader comes to the table with a buffet of life experiences and those experiences invariably color perspective.

We talked about so many things, and the women even inquired about my own life. The didn't recoil at my candor, nor did they at my vernacular. Score. They were all very friendly and quite open, we laughed a ton and didn't leave until 10 pm. I don't know yet what the next book is going to be, there was some talk about it being a "good novel." I hope it's a good one, and I look forward to next month's meeting. Good reads and good conversation = good times.

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