It's 3:00 A.M. and I've just finished reading Amy Ferris's Marrying George Clooney: Confessions of a Midlife Crisis. I'm certain that somewhere out there Amy is also awake. I know this because her memoir chronicles with brilliant precision and hilarity her own bouts of menopausal insomnia— middle-of-the-night, Ambien-resistant hours filled with fantasies of marrying the aforementioned film star, sessions of googling old boyfriends, drafting plots for the TV shows she'd program if she were a network exec, and staving off fears that only an overly brainy and hormonally-challenged woman can conjure.
To say that any woman whose hormones have taken a dive can relate to Ferris's fury at not having been properly briefed on the mythic proportions of vaginal dryness and hot flashes would be to dip only the tiniest of toes into an ocean of understatement. In fact, so many of the experiences in her book are similar to my own that I wonder if her father might not have spent a wayward night with my mother in the fall of 1952. That improbable DNA link between us may not exist, but Ferris offers up our very own Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Our pants, though, are not a pair of jeans that miraculously fit four completely different sized teenage girls. Ours are the lung-taxing pants that accompany unexpected weight gain and follow bouts of irrational rage directed at whatever poor boob might be in close proximity. But connectedness, the fear of losing it, and dealing with its loss are the undercurrents that flow throughout Marrying George Clooney.
And if anyone grasps the powers and perils of interconnectedness it's Ferris. A Buddhist since the age of 19, she touchingly describes the karmic pull that brings new friends into her life just as a most cherished one dies, and certainly any teenager booted from an Oregon commune for shaving her legs, (i.e. Amy), knows that some connections are simply too slim to survive even a gentle tug.
But perhaps the most potent connections for Ferris, and for most of us, are ultimately genetic. Artfully and heartbreakingly twined throughout her humorous riffs on midlife change is the account of her mother's decline into dementia and the severing of all ties with her brother in its polarizing wake. Tales of her mom's sudden and sexy crush on Jesus offset the painfully repetitious lesson that parental love is never what we truly wish it to be. But the ache of that realization is assuaged by the sheer fact that that love exists at all, let alone so strongly and to the very end. During her final visit with her mother, Ferris's mom spends most of her perpetually-addled time placed on a recliner chair in front of the TV. And for reasons that any child of an Alzheimer victim can tell you will never be clear, calls Amy "Letter." In response, Ferris slips their relationship of childhood longing for approval, teenage rebellion, and questioning adulthood into the tender gesture of answering, "Yes, Envelope?"
Other stories of loss punctuate the book— quitting smoking, keeping the body of beloved cat, Wishes in a box in the trunk of an unused car until the winter ground can thaw enough to permit his burial, and being dumped by a friend via email are just a few. But gratefulness for the richness of life, even without Estrogen, a mother, and adequate sleep, is acknowledged by Ferris on nearly every page, not in the least because of her luck in having Weather-Channel-addicted and infinitely patient husband, Ken, as a partner. I'm certain that every woman who reads the book is going to wonder if Ken has an available brother.
If Marrying George Clooney has any flaws they are these. It's nearly impossible to read more than a chapter without laughing out loud with unladylike volume and timbre. This makes consuming its pages a dicey public endeavor— ergo the above title mention of risking expulsion from Starbucks. And finally, dear Amy, if anyone is going to marry George Clooney it's me. I have been using personalized "Mrs. George Clooney" pencils, (example at top of page), for the last eight years, and I haven't stocked up on the scribblers for nothing. So thanks for the remarkable read, Ferris, but the man is mine.
Marrying George Clooney is available at most bookstores and at Amazon.com. To learn more about Amy Ferris and her marvelously skewed views on life visit her blog.