Cover to Cover

Book club shake-up
Modine

So, we got our COVID shots, and I see my brother-in-law Lurch’s entire face for the first time in a year.

Would you believe – he’s grown a mustache. It looks kind of cute.

My mother-in-law Ms. Larda has also grown a mustache. It is not cute, and she gets busy with the tweezers right away. 

She even digs out her lipstick. She got 20 ladies coming over – and not on Zoom, either.

Everybody in her Catholic women’s study group has managed to get inoculated, so they decided to have a real in-person meeting at her house to discuss the new book they been reading. It is called “River of Fire” and it was written by a nun.

The morning of, I do her a favor and pick up a couple boxes of petit fours from Randazzo’s for refreshments.

Ms. Larda says I should stay for the meeting. The ladies are very, very excited about this book. She’s been getting text messages out the wazoo. She says it’s a good book, very inspirational, but she can’t believe all the commotion. Some ladies text that they are insulted, and some say they stayed all night reading it, and some say both in the same text. 

I guess everybody is a little nuts these days. I tell her she better dilute the coffee with decaf. She says she is serving  Irish coffee, with double whiskey. It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day anyway. 

Then they start showing up, and it gets even stranger. Everybody has their book with them, but some of them have it covered in a plain brown wrapper. 

It’s a pretty day, and she shows them out to her new deck in the back with lawn chairs and side tables and a umbrella in Saints colors. She got a table with the petit  fours and coffee, plus fruit plates for the ones who gave up sweets for Lent.

Everybody says how gorgeous it is, and they all settle down with plates and cups, but before anybody can take a bite, Leanna Fazzio, who has a voice like a foghorn, jumps to her feet and raises up her book like Trump holding the Bible.

 She ain’t holding no Bible. The cover of this book reads “River of Fire” all right, but it also says, “the immovable man meets the irresistible woman,” and it shows a picture of a irresistible woman with long red hair and a dress that seems to be slithering off  her shoulder for no reason, with her bosom pressed up against the immovable man’s bare chest. 

 “To start with,” Leanna bawls, “back when we were in school, our nuns used to tell us to ‘leave room for Jesus in between,’ but these two people here sure ain’t doing that.” 

“What two people?” Gilda Malone asks, squinting at Leanna’s book – her glasses are on top her head. “I found the book inspirational.”

“Just what were you inspired to do, Gilda?” Leanna shoots back, very sarcastic. 

Gilda holds her book up (same Trump pose) but her cover shows a nun dressed like a nun: no bare shoulder, no flaming red hair, no immovable bare-chested man. And under the title it says: “A Spiritual Journey.”

Now everybody is rooting around in their purses for their glasses and staring at each other’s books, and there is some pearl-clutching going on.

Come to find out, there is more than one book called “River of Fire.” And since everybody ordered them online – or got their grandkids to do it for them – “Mistakes were made,” like the politicians say.

About half the ladies got the inspirational one, and the others got the one with the heaving bosoms. 

Ms. Larda comes up with a plan. Everybody who got the right book will switch with everybody who got the wrong book, so they will all read both. Then discuss. 

Gilda stares at the cover on Leanna’s book. “Didn’t it used to be a mortal sin to read this kind of stuff?” she asks. 

“After the year we’ve had, God owes us something,” Ms. Larda says. She’s ready for some guilt. 

Of course, God’s watching.

I hope they don’t all grow mustaches.