Lawlor: Turning the page on book groups, without TVs and beer
Updated 6:11 am, Sunday, May 1, 2016
“Do you want to go to a PTA book group next week?” my wife asked me. “It will be about the book How to Raise an Adult.”
“What? Me ... a book group? No. I don’t like those things … I actually hate those things. I can’t go to a book group. I have male body parts (only I mentioned which ones I had). I don’t have lady parts. Guys don’t go to book clubs.”
I was wrong (not about the body parts; I was right about that). I was wrong about men going to book groups. I found out my cousin, Paul, in Overland Park, Kan., is in a book group.
My wife thought if we read a parenting book together it would help us be more united in our parenting. We would both be on literally the same page. I agreed to read the book and attend, so I wrote my cousin to try to prepare myself for the PTA book group. I wanted to find out what to do, and how to act. He told me a little about his club, with all guys in a suburb of Kansas City.
“The club started in 2002 with six members. We meet on Tuesday or Wednesday. We always meet at a sports bar. Drink and/or food specials have a lot to do with which day we meet. We’ve changed locations several times due to the place closing, poor service or the elimination of a popular food or drink special.”
I was intrigued. I liked the idea of this book club. Apparently the numerous televisions on every square inch of wall space blasting everything from Brazilian soccer to Royals baseball do not distract from the books. He continued, “There have been a few wives who show up, but none have come back with any regularity. Those of us with children have had them visit once in a while. With the outsiders around, our discussions were pretty bland (limited cussing, no comments on other women, no politics).
“If there are books to exchange, that is always done first. The rest of the discussion is about family situations, sports, women and politics. The types of books are action fiction, sports, historical bio's, politics and humor.”
“The political discussions have had the venue management step in to tell us to reduce the volume or leave. The primary group has two Independents, one Libertarian, two Republicans, a Democrat and one guy who really doesn't give a hoot, but loves to stir the pot ... It's like a family gathering ... He who's loudest, wins the argument!”
After reading about my cousin’s book group, I started looking forward to the PTA book club. I don’t remember a lot of TVs in the library, but maybe there is a separate room with buffalo wings, beer and TVs. I hope the wings are not that hot. I don’t like wings that are too spicy.
I tried to read the book, and got about half way through. Okay, not a full half of the book, but a good start. I had 25 pages done by the night of the discussion. I arrived to discover the meeting room had no TVs, but they had drinks and imitation Girl Scout cookies. I love the imitation Samoas the best, but I think the town probably has some kind of rule about alcohol in the Memorial Room of the Fairfield Public Library.
The book was “How to Raise an Adult,” a bestseller by Julie Lythcott-Haims. After about half an hour of me being the only guy and no TVs, another guy shows up to join the 16 women and me, I know the guy from the YMCA Guide and Explorer program. We exchanged greetings. We didn’t talk about drink specials as other guys in our predicament would. We talked about the book, and the more I talked the more I revealed that I am a complete charlatan who thought that they would have potato skins with bacon and nachos.
The book and the discussion were surprisingly good, the parents talked about their struggles raising their kids to be adults, issues like cellphones to kids moving back home after college, were discussed in an open manner. In the end, they didn’t finish and will have another meeting about this book May 23. I went home and read more of the book. I hopefully will get solidly in the middle of the book by then.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His “Father’s Journal” column appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at Tlawlor@mcommunications.com.