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DEAL ME IN – WEEK 14
When I was in kindergarten, my grandparents, who had been born and raised in the New York/New Jersey area, retired and moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida. During the remainder of my childhood and on into my 20’s and 30’s, I made at least an annual trip to see them. At some point, I began realizing that retirees living in Florida have a culture all their own. And then in the 1990’s, I watched an episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry and Elaine visit Jerry’s parents (Helen and Morty, for any trivia buffs) in Florida. From the bar in the pull-out couch to the Early Bird specials, I thought “Somebody really knows how it is!”.
This rather lengthy introduction leads me to Week 14 of my Deal Me In 2015 project. I drew the Jack of Clubs and it brought me to Ring Lardner’s “The Golden Honeymoon”. Apparently, this retirement culture in Florida goes back even farther than my childhood. And somebody knew what it was like before the writers of Seinfeld. My Deal Me In 2015 list can be seen here. Deal Me In 2015 is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.
Charley and Lucy Frost travel to Florida from New Jersey for a few months on the occasion of their Fiftieth wedding anniversary. Charley narrates the story so everything is seen through his eyes and his many opinions. The reader easily understands how important little details are to Charley. The cost of their dinners and with whom they play (or have to play) five hundred, checkers or horseshoes are great concerns to Charley. He doesn’t hesitate to tell the reader what he thinks of people. Lucy, of course, tolerates Charley but she has her own opinions. And even after being married for fifty years, those opinions don’t always match up with her husband’s. Charley refers to Lucy as “Mother” and I’ve always found that odd when couples do that – but I guess it works for the Frosts.
Here’s a paragraph that gets to the heart of Charley – talking about their friends, the Hartsells:
…Hartsell wanted we should go to their place and play cards, but his wife reminded him that it was after 9:30 pm, rather a late hour to start a card game, but he had went crazy on the subject of cards, probably because he didn’t have to play partners with his wife. Anyway, we got rid of them and went home to bed.
At the risk of sounding sappy and cliche, Lardner’s big accomplishment with this story is that he uses these small details and Charley’s dialect to paint a picture of true and lasting love with all of its irritations and idiosyncrasies.