Me, I Must
Don Chambers is dogged and in love. When Jenny Staley says she can't leave her ninety-one-year-old rifle-toting granny and her nineteen-year old daughter, Don invites them all to move into his condo. But Grandma Windy won't budge. Both the lovers are middle-aged, modern, divorced adults, there is no reason they cannot consummate their passion. They are on the verge of just that when the phone call comes from Don's octogenarian father. He has broken his hip and Don must transport him from Michigan to Don's Arizona home. When eventually the stingy old codger moves out and Don and Jenny are once more alone, who should arrive but Don's son Ron, a recent college dropout with a pet rabbit and a tank of oxygen to which he turns when life becomes too stressful, as it so often does.
Complications multiply, and through it all the hapless pair of lovers stumble along, their eyes on a simple goal -- marriage and release from the demands of being the filling in a generational sandwich of older parents and younger children. Whatever transpires in this true-to-life drama spiced with the author's dry wit, the journey is a wonderfully enjoyable one for the reader.
A comedy of good manners and bad relations, reflected by a quote from a noted scientist in a recent New York Times article on how increased lifespans are changing family life. "I estimate that half the 35-year-olds today will have a dependent parent alive for at least 20 years before that parent dies," said gerontologist Vern Bengtson. "Having aging and dependent parents at the same time as caring for your own children and grandchildren will be the major domestic crisis for the 21st century."
Glendon's last novel, a contemporary comedic romance, in which he cast the serious problems of the "sandwich generation," of which he was one of the first members, in a comic light. Published posthumously, Pinch Me remains as up-to-date as tomorrow's newspapers in illuminating the growing problems today's baby boomers face getting crunched in the ever-widening generation gap.
Pinch Me should definitely be made into a low-budget contemporary comic romance, for it reads like an American version of the surprise British hit, Four Weddings and a Funeral, although in this case the comic emphasis is on the funerals! Certainly all the generational elements are here for a spin-off TV situation comedy as well. Screenplay adaptation available from Hoodwinks Productions (310-578-5404).
"42-year-old Don Chambers and his betrothed, 38-year-old Jenny Staley, are beginning to think they might never get married. Life has gotten in the way -- first, in the form of Jenny's 91-year-old grandmother, Windy Coon, and next, in the form of Don's 83-year-old father, Harry. To top it off, their teenage children from previous marriages have fallen in love with each other, and the daughter is pregnant (which means their children are having sex, even though Don and Jenny haven't quite gotten around to it). Their engagement from hell consists of medicines, blasting television sets, raging hormones, pitiful real estate sales, and impending bankruptcy. And every time they think it can't get any worse, of course it does. Sounds depressing, but the late Swarthout's playful writing style and go-with-the-flow philosophy make this novel a quick and delicious read. Its humor heals us while its frankness about old age, death, money, and life's complications wakes us up." Kathryn Broderick, Booklist.
"Delightful and humorous reading of a three-fold generation gap set to the background of the trendy Phoenix/Scottsdale area of high-rise condos and retirement meccas. The late author Swarthout is well-known for his long list of popular novels and films and lived in Scottsdale." Books of the Southwest.