Monday, August 7, 2017

Rumpus Room Reads #6 - "The Great American Alimony Escape"




I’ve had this book on my list to revisit for some time now, due to the outrageously delicious trash cover.  Like some of the other Rumpus Room Reads, this one didn’t come from my Grandma’s basement.  Not even ten books in and I can barely stick to my mission-statement formula!  


But come on, who could resist talking about this thing, even if it was purchased for like fifty cents from a beat up cardboard box in a Publix in Fort Myers, the purgatory of Florida (which is itself the purgatory of the USA)?  It’s so in-your-face seventies swinger kitsch, it’s practically giving me crabs (bell-bottomed crabs at that).  The font is brought to you by Quaaludes.  The human math equation at the top with the guy in the microscopic pink towel and tiki beads aching to get timesed by the Breck Shampoo girl who adorably stole his undershirt if only it wasn’t for his flabby avatar with the so-large-as-to-be-useable towel staring gloomily at his past marital mistakes - it seems to actually involve the man marrying himself?  It’s confusing me, frankly, but I somehow escaped ever taking calculus (physics, too, damn you lackadaisical public school education!).  


The novel itself is heinously dated and misogynistically objectifying to the point where as a twenty first century woman I’m fairly certain I betrayed my gender by ever completing it.  Poor Jed, before he discovered tiki beads and grooviness, married boring old Denise and had some boring sons with her.  Then twenty years later he was like, catch you on the flip side, Denise, I’ma get me some of that strange all those draft dodgin’ hippie kids were rapping about over their doobies!  But see, kids, he gets sick of banging different free-spirited nudity-lovin’ tight bodied twenty two year olds every night, so he decides to just bang one free-spirited nudity-lovin’ tight bodied twenty two year old.  Oh, sorry, I’m totally exaggerating.  She was twenty four.  Anyway, Maura, the nude young romance novel editor, tells him she can’t marry him until he ditches the alimony payments to Denise.  Cue the scheme to find Denise some schlong with a wallet attached, which they find in the form of Barney, a well hung middle aged momma’s boy virgin Jed trains for Denise’s pleasure with tennis and dancing lessons and bridge lessons
.  
It’s not even really worth delving into the rest of the plot.  This isn’t just me saying that - it’s the first book I’ve reviewed here that I couldn’t find a plot synopsis for anywhere on the internet.  By the end of the book, every character described above and even more thirsty bicentennial-era skanks end up at some Caribbean sex resort with the subtle name of Gomorrah.  Surprise surprise, the plot twists everyone one intercourse friend to the left, and Jed ends up back with Denise, tearfully apologizing post-coitus for the whole hackneyed midlife crisis because, as he put it, “I’d like to be a little fat and flabby.”  Because we all know that  marriage is nothing but a dangerously attractive form of entropy.  Below, without comment, a selection of quotes to better flesh out the mood:


“Sheltered by marriage, he had been unaware of the full force the winds of freedom of the sexual revolution had unleashed.”


“And where the hell is Gaby?  She could at least come and tell me what’s happening.  Or bring me a sandwich.”


“Barney arrested his piston movement in mid-revolution, his body suddenly hunched like a cat discovered on the buffet table.”


“Keep your hands off the other guys’ women, towels, and diet margarine.”  


In my attempt to find out more information about this book, I was surprised to discover in his 2013 online obituary that, far from being solely an author of slender seventies trash novels, author David Rogers was a Broadway playwright who also wrote for television, opera, and “night clubs,” wrote a Tony-nominated musical adaptation of “Flowers for Algernon.”  He studied at the Theater Wing alongside Jack Lemmon and Lee Marvin and contributed to the Zigfeld Follies, writing for such stars as Tallulah Bankhead, Bea Lillie, Bea Arthur, Carol Haney, and Hermione Gingold.  Most shocking to me, though, was the last line - “He is survived by his wife of 50 years, June L. Walker.”  

What was this happily married man doing writing about moist heaving aging divorced swingers?  Was it all an escapist fantasy made safely digestible with the addition of the return to the wife at the end?  Or was he deeply grossed out by the whole scene, intentionally making everybody involved vapid and foolish out of derision?  I believe the latter, especially given the little throwaway line early in the novel by some beefy Scottish stereotype masseur gossiping about some other almost-fifty dude meeting a barely legal second wife in line for Woody Allen movie.  

5 comments:

  1. For novices, you use order of operations on that cover equation.

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    Replies
    1. So translate that to who is being added subtracted divided and multiplied by whom?

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  2. I'm amazed at your ability to stumble across these gems!

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    Replies
    1. Some of us are just born with the gift of the sight, Carrie.

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  3. Hysterical, love the way you write!

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