Last weekend, I had 1,000 people over. And Mother Mary.
Guess which put me over the top.
We begin with some background. For eight years, I've been giving a book-club party at my house, for book-club members who read my spring hardcover.
Yes, you read that right.
If your book club reads my April book, and you e-mail or send me a picture of everyone holding the book up, then you're invited to the book-club party at my house. Daughter Francesca speaks, amazing assistants Laura and Nan speak, and I speak, and you get the idea. We have you all over, feed you, and yak at you for an afternoon.
I believe I am the only author on the planet who does this.
Because I'm just crazy enough.
I pray not. Also, I have an excellent security system.
Five yapping dogs.
Really, any evildoer will get the biggest headache of his life.
When we started the book-club party, we had it for one day, and we hosted almost a hundred people. We served homemade chocolate chip cookies, which were underdone, and plugged in coffee urns that blew every fuse in the house.
But, a good time was had by all.
Happily, the book-club party has grown to 1,000 people over two days, and we keep it to 500 a day, because that keeps us in brownies.
Brownies are the life of every girl party.
And now there's a wait list, which makes me just as happy as a bestsellers' list.
Thank you, dear readers!
But to stay on point, this year, the book party was special because it falls so close to Mother Mary's 90th birthday, which is a huge milestone.
I have lived with her all my life, which feels like 90 years.
Again, just kidding.
Mother Mary loves coming up for the book-club party, because it's her chance to tell everyone that I'm a pain in the ass.
So, this time, I thought celebrating her birthday would be an added bonus for everyone, especially Mother Mary, who would have 1,000 new friends to sing Happy Birthday to her. But no, she said, when I asked her.
"Ma, you don't want to have the book-club people sing Happy Birthday to you?"
"I said no."
"But it will be so much fun. These people have read about you, and they would love to celebrate you, and so would I. I'll get you a nice cake."
"Ma, it's a very big deal, turning 90. Not everyone gets that chance."
"What if I have somebody jump out of the cake?"
Mother Mary lifts an eyebrow. "Who?"
"My point exactly!"
"I. Said. No." Mother Mary scowled, which is her default expression. As she gets older, she has come more into herself, which is Yosemite Sam on blood thinners.
But you know where this is going, because possession is nine-tenths of the law. I was hoping that once I had her in my clutches, I would get my own way, because the only way I can ever get my way with my mother is when she's captured and caged. Then I figured I would wheel her out in front of the cake, on a dolly like Hannibal Lecter.
Happy Birthday, Mommy!
And when I picked her and Brother Frank up at the airport, my optimism soared because she was so cooperative. Case in point, she arrived as usual in her white lab coat, but she agreed not to wear it to the party because it had a tomato stain from the Bloody Mary she had on the plane.
Surely, you have these problems in your own family. I bet your aged parents spill drinks on their Halloween costumes, too.
Anyway, to fast forward, she came to the book-club party with Brother Frank, climbed up on the little stage, and said hello to the crowd.
Then she refused to give up the microphone.
She told jokes, showed off her back scratcher, and twerked, AARP-style.
And she didn't even curse at me when we brought out the birthday cake.
Every single person sang Happy Birthday to her, and there wasn't a dry eye in the place. I know that some of the people were thinking of her, and some were thinking of their own mothers, whom they weren't so lucky to have around anymore.
Ninety Years of Mother Mary.
To me, it's still not enough.
Look for Lisa and Francesca's columns in their newest collection, "Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim." Also, look for Lisa's new Rosato & Associates novel, "Accused," coming on Oct. 29. You can write to Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.