Alice's Voice

Is It Okay to Drink and Read Anne Lamott?

It seemed a fair question to ask myself, since that’s exactly what I was doing.  I don’t have a clear answer, possibly due to the drink.  

Lamott is famous for writing about motherhood, alcoholism and Jesus. I am not famous but I do write about motherhood and on occasion, Jesus. And on Sunday afternoons my favorite treat is to pour an adult beverage into a plastic cup, get in my inflatable recliner and float in the pool while reading.

There are requirements for this relaxation activity. The cocktail must be light. It’s Florida after all, so even in October a Sunday afternoon is warm.  There was a hibiscus champagne cocktail at The Cheesecake Factory that I am constantly trying to recreate.  Not just because it is the perfect pool drink, but because it was. of course, discontinued. On a menu that is the size of a book, they needed to trim back one item.  

Essentially a floating end table

It seems that I have very specific requirements for many things, and many of those items also  get shelved by the company. Apparently my taste runs to the specific and unpopular.  For instance, lemon yogurt no longer exists in the U.S. Sure, you can find a lemon chiffon or a lemon meringue, but that is a pale version of a true tart lemon. All the regular yogurt brands gave up on lemon years ago. For a while, one of the Greek yogurts, who all appear to be run by ‘big yogurt’, hung on to a true, tart lemon. You know, like a flavor they actually have in Greece. But now there is only sickly sweet pretend lemony desserts. Made for those of you unable to handle the sting of lemon with bits of pulp that slightly pop under your teeth in the silky smooth creaminess. Obviously, I’m speaking to all of you, since I’m the only one who ever ate it and my once a week habit wasn’t enough for anyone to keep producing it. 

I make my own lemon yogurt now. A coffee mug of nonfat Costco brand Greek yogurt (that does not pretend to be anything but bulky) mixed with a teaspoon of lemon curd from the British aisle of my Publix. Take that, big yogurt.  

Other perfections have been discontinued from my world as well.  Brownie lipstick.  The perfect red/brown from Avon. Gone. Along with my Avon Lady. The minimizer bra from Warners that addressed side boob and spillage so long gone I no longer have the SKU number, which I absolutely carried in my purse. I wonder if natural selection and extinction are more fading, like this, rather than the abrupt end.  

Self-help, novels, magazines. It all works. Pictured here: Social Media Success for Every Brand by Claire Diaz Ortiz. Dissembling by A. A. Endsley. Not pictured, riesling.

I have found the perfect pool floats, which also have specific requirements.  It’s best to have two different styles. One is a large float, like a waterborne couch. It sits above the water line. When it’s too cold in the pool but the air is warm enough, I glide in it.  

The summer float has a head and foot rest with a mesh bottom, that sinks your backside in the water. My favorite one has a floating end table/sidecar attachment.  It holds one drink, spray sunscreen and reading sunglasses. 

While the drink must be light — rosé, riesling, hibiscus cocktail — the reading need not be. While it can be a magazine, like Vanity Fair or Real Simple, it has also been poetry books by Sister Siren Susan Lilley or Siren Adjacent Billy Collins. Last year in the devastation of June it was The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, Becoming by Michelle Obama and How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. Self-help and business books like Atomic Habits and Burnout made it to the float with a highlighter in the sidecar.

My favorite pool read though, is the essay. Contained. Able to be consumed in one tour of the pool. On this Sunday, I finished “The Kitten” in Lamott’s recent Dusk Night Dawn. I put my hand to my heart. The breath left me. So good. Like lemon yogurt, a hibiscus cocktail and a well-fitted bra.

5 replies »

  1. I think Anne would approve. Well, I do anyway–but then I’m not famous either! I am so late to Lamott, having read only a little by her, but finally picking up Bird by Bird. I’m excited to dive in (pool pun). I also miss Dannon’s lemon yogurt–the best–and will have to try your lemon curd trick. Happy floating and reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This piece was as delicious as a lemon yogurt created by Athena herself. I need a book of your essays on everything for my own pool floaty – a tented ottoman, no less. Need.

    Liked by 1 person

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