Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Amy Cohen's "The Late Bloomer's Revolution"

Amy Cohen was a writer/producer on the sitcoms Caroline in the City and Spin City, a dating columnist for the New York Observer, and the dating correspondent for cable TV's New York Central.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her new book, The Late Bloomer's Revolution, and reported the following:
I have to admit, I was so happy when I saw my page 99, as it was a pivotal scene not only in the chapter called “Heartbreaker,” but my life. Growing up, my father and I had a very rocky relationship. I always felt like such a failure in his eyes, believing that I wasn’t the daughter he would have chosen. I spent years in therapy discussing and bemoaning my relationship with him. So many years, in fact, that I was reminded of that great line from “Annie Hall,” where Alvy, referring to the many years he spent in therapy, says about his psychiatrist, “Pretty soon when I lie down on his couch I won’t have to wear the lobster bib.”

I assumed for a long time that my relationship with my father would always remain difficult and real adulthood would mean finally accepting that.

Then, when I was thirty-two, my sweet, funny mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My father and I spent our every free moment together. We were like one of those old, bickering couples who fought constantly but couldn’t live without each other. Both of us were aware no one else understood our particular pain – losing the person we loved most in the world-- the way we did. “Your sister and brother have their own families,” he’d say. “But we just have us.”

And he was right.

Then a year after my mother died, within a few months, I got fired from my sitcom writing job of three years; my boyfriend, the one I was intending to marry, broke up with me; and then I got a virulent rash on my face for eight months.

Yet again, my father and I were inseparable.

“Your rash isn’t so bad,” he said one day, trying to cheer me up. “Just put a little make-up on it.”

“I have make-up on it,” I answered.

What I love so much about page 99 is that you get my father’s particular dialect and brash honesty (“no one’s interested in your sex life” and “men are going to think you’re on the schnide.”), but also his incredible sweetness and goodness. Page 99 depicts the moment when I realized just how much had changed in our relationship. Hearing him say, “You’re very special. You’re much stronger than I thought,” and “You used to be such a pain in the ass,” shows in one speech just how far we’d come.

It was also the moment I knew with certainty that our closeness was not temporary or circumstantial, which trust me, was a big moment in my life.

My relationship with my father is one of the many ways in which I was a Late Bloomer. He was there for other Late Blooming milestones, like when I taught myself to ride a bike at Thirty-five. Our relationship remains one of the great surprises of my life and in so many ways, it all began on p.99.

Page 99:

“Could you, please?” I said, pressing my hand in the air to signal my father to lower his voice.

“You think anyone here is so interested in your sex life? They couldn’t care less.”

He took a bite of Cobb salad between sentences, spearing a cube of Canadian bacon. “Now, a lot of men are going to hear that you haven’t had a boyfriend for a long time and think, ‘She’s been on the schnide,’” he said, using his term for lack of sexual activity. “They might think, 'It’s going to be easy to go to bed with her, because she’s desperate—‘”

“On the schnide?” I said, annoyed.

“Can I make my point, please? Please?”

“Go ahead.”

“What I’m telling you is, you can’t let that happen, because you need someone who’s going to be good to you and take care of you. You’re very special. You’re much stronger than I thought. You used to be such a pain in the ass. Oh, you drove me nuts, but haven’t had such an easy time lately.” He looked closer. “But your skin in looking better. Anyway, any young man would be very fortunate to get you. So don’t forget that. Capeesh?”

At that moment, I remember feeling lucky, but guilty that we’d only found each other this way because my mother died. And then it occurred to me that maybe that’s how my father felt. Lucky, but guilty that he had found someone first.

Excerpted from The Late Bloomer's Revolution by Amy Cohen. Copyright 2007 Amy Cohen. All rights reserved.
Read an excerpt from The Late Bloomer's Revolution, and learn more about Amy Cohen and her book at her website and her MySpace page.

--Marshal Zeringue