Title: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (A Memoir of Going Home)
Author: Rhoda Janzen
Publication Date: 2010
Purchase Price: $10 (paperback)
Rhoda Janzen has had a rough week. First her husband leaves her for a guy named Bob he met on Gay.com, and then she gets into a horrible car accident that leaves her with a cracked patella, two broken ribs, and a fractured clavicle. What’s a newly single 42 year-old to do?
Go stay with her Mennonite parents, of course.
Alternating between hysterical and thought provoking, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is a book about learning who you are by going home.
My mother loaned me this book on a recent trip home, and I started reading with no real idea of what I was getting into. Sometimes accidental discoveries can be awesome.
I think that there are many people who can empathize with Janzen’s situation: your life has taken a turn for the worst, and the only place to go is back to a family from whom you were desperate to escape. Janzen didn’t have a traumatic childhood–in fact, she describes it as rather idyllic–but it was still a world in which she didn’t feel that she really belonged.
But her return to her family brings her closer to her heritage, to the things that made her the person she was before she married a bipolar nutjob who eventually left her for a guy named Bob he met on Gay.com.
Between her mother’s propensity to discuss pus and chicken intestines over lunch and her cousin’s immutable desire to talk about her personal problems, Janzen had me giggling on pretty much every page. There are also moments of incredible inner insight, as Janzen endeavors to unravel why she stayed in a relationship with an abusive and controlling man.
Whether you’re looking for a good laugh or a good deep thought, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is the book for you. A highly recommended summer read.
Your own hysterical giggles.
“And so it was that I sallied forth into public carrying my pee bag in an aqua patent tote, shopping with urinous enthusiasm. The excursion was extremely successful, too, except for the part when I accidentally stepped on the pee bag’s clamp and flooded the passenger seat of my car with my own urine. Lola stoically hosed out the VW, reasoning that urine duty was a small price to pay for all of the excellent deals we had found. And less than a week later my doctors upgraded me to the kind of pee bag you strap on with Velcro around your leg, under your skirt, like a nasty secret. I taught for half the semester like that. And dang I’m here to tell you that when it’s ninety degrees outside, nothing reminds you of your own mortality like a steaming hot bag of urine hugging your thigh.” (p. 11)
“In my opinion, sexiness comes down to three things: chemistry, sense of humor, and treatment of waitstaff at restaurants. If the sparks don’t fly from the beginning, they never will. If he doesn’t get your sense of humor from the first conversation, you’ll always secretly be looking for someone who does. And if a guy can’t see restaurant servers as real people, with needs and dreams and crappy jobs, then I don’t want to be with him, even if he just won the Pulitzer Prize.” (p. 203)
Happy 4th of July! May I recommend this post?