Someone on Goodreads wrote of Lunch in Brooklyn, “But where was the fooling around with Neil part??”
This was my first published story, in Sassy, July 1992. It takes place in 11th grade, as the small Quaker school years are coming to a close. The story was built backwards from a note my husband had left me one day, of the “going out, back 5ish” variety, where at the end he scrawled something, which could have been “love” or “later,” I really couldn’t tell. In the context of the note and our relationship, it was insignificant, but what if this were something a boy had written in a girl’s yearbook?
The other day I did a search on the story title and up popped a blog of the same name with a stated (and very much unfulfilled) intention to create a screenplay based on the story. The story was 22 years ago, the blog 10, but who doesn’t like to write something that has been remembered?
Vic Giovanni is joined in Robert Weinberger’s pantheon of memorable characters by his Kindergarten teacher, Lily Regenbogen.
Here we see her through the words of the narrator’s older brother:
“Here’s your crayons, little bluebird,” he hisses, and the way he says little bluebird is a lot different than they way Miss Regenbogen says it.
Through acutely funny dialogue and deftly rendered gestures and descriptions Rob Weinberger recreates growing up in the the 60s and the rocky start to his education, which draws visits from concerned relatives:
“The poor parents,” they whisper. “What they must be going through.”
“Lunch in Brooklyn takes place in New York City in the late 1970s, but it could’ve been written about any era in any locale. Adolescent angst never changes throughout the years; the desires, humiliations and fumbling explorations (drugs, sexuality) remain constant, as do teachers who exclaim, ‘People, settle down,’ and parents who hover over every relationship detail.
“Rebecca Moore has a keen ear for dialog and expertly crafts a young girl’s coming-of-age in a specific time and place. The good news is that Lunch in Brooklyn doesn’t require you be female, or from Brooklyn, to enjoy it.”
Well, actually, meet Robert Weinberger. If you like funny, well-written memoirs, especially those set in the 1970s, in Brooklyn, or on Long Island, read this. Vic Giovanni was Robert’s piano teacher, but maybe you took driver’s ed with this guy. Or maybe you knew Lorna, a missed opportunity.
Here’s how this memoir begins:
Vic Giovanni is my new piano teacher.
He is thirty-five, wears Hai Karate aftershave, drives a maroon 1970 El Dorado, and sits too close to me on the piano bench.
For the first fifteen minutes of every piano lesson, Vic Giovanni details his sexual exploits, claiming numerous rendezvous with many Hollywood actresses. He doesn’t use words like hump or screw or other words I know, but boink, buff, bang (his favorite), ball, boff, bleep, and just about anything beginning with the letter b. Every actress he has either boinked or banged.
Vic Giovanni is determined to make me popular with the opposite sex, the chicks. “And chicks dig a guy who can bang those piano keys,” he explains with a wink.
Read the rest at Hippocampus Magazine: http://www.hippocampusmagazine.com/2012/12/sex-drugs-and-vic-giovanni-by-robert-weinberger/
Robert says this of himself: He was raised across the street from the Cyclone roller coaster ride at the world-renowned Coney Island amusement park in Brooklyn, New York. He legally immigrated to the Los Angeles area in his early twenties. His memoirs, “My Letter,” “The Year of Living Nervously,” and “Look Homeward, Brooklyn” have been published in Memoir Journal and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood. In a previous life, Robert toiled as a publicist for Universal Pictures, working with some of the most recognizable names in the entertainment industry — none of whom will return his phone calls.
“He opens his mouth to say something but the train is picking up speed as we go under the river. We glance at each other without speaking. The empty cars of the CC train rattle through the tunnel. They are gray with yellow walls, dim light, dirty linoleum and slow electric fans. They are like someone’s kitchen in a long dream. When the train pulls into Broadway-Nassau Street, the car fills with miserable people in steaming trench coats. Harry pushes out against the tide of them to transfer to the Lexington Avenue IRT.”
I took this picture of an old CC train at the Transit Museum. Either the colors of the carriage walls had changed by the late 70s or I misremembered them by the time this scene was written. Also, the museum has used brighter lighting. The way I remember it, there was always at least one light flickering and it was darker. Underground was like being underwater. Note the porthole window in the door.
Read a little more of Lunch on Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood.
“The Gift of Tongues” combines the New Yorker’s love of rooftops with the middle schoolers love of the grotesque and overtly sexual.
And in the spirit of NYC 1970s autobiographical realness, here’s a picture of me in 7th grade, holding a light meter for my father, who was a photographer. New Yorkers will recognize the Fox Police locks.
Daisy Porter says the book is “not perfect” but has “amazing voice.” She gives it four stars on Amazon.
Daisy blogs at Queer YA, reviewing LGTBQ fiction for teens. She may not know it, but she is also the first winner of a vintage Sassy/Nirvana sticker. Christina said she had not heard from her, which means her review was written just because, even better.
Solicited reviews are good, too. And there are nine stickers remaining if you want to get in on that action.
Sassy readers of yesteryear, get on over to Christina Kelly’s blog, Fallen Princess. I did an author Q & A with her!
In addition to Christina’s rants, whims, wit and wisdom, you will also find Andrea, Kim and (I think) Marjorie, fka Margie.
Thanks again, Christina. I am proud to be a “colleague“!