Jan Stafford Kellis

Enzo Would Be Proud

My first speaking engagement proved successful despite a raging head cold and a sleepless week! My second-favorite book club calls themselves Enzo’s Girls, after the dog who narrated The Art of Racing in the Rain. It was the first book the club read as a group and they were so taken with Enzo’s charm and simple wisdom, they decided to name their club after him. Enzo’s Girls operate in a more traditional manner than my Bookworms Anonymous group, but their camaraderie and collective energy definitely rival ours. Witnessing this group’s synergy was both interesting and exciting as I realized how invigorating a circle of friends can be, sparking ideas back and forth and cracking witty remarks.

The moment I enter the house, I feel welcome. Kathy is hosting this evening and she’s standing watch near the door, ready to usher me to the seat of honor, pausing to allow each Girl to introduce herself. I strive to remember each woman’s name, knowing it’s impossible and knowing I will at least retain their faces.

Enzo’s Girls have been meeting for thirteen months, and they are so excited about sharing their group with me, their voices clamor over one another like lively puppies when I ask a few questions. I briefly wish I could still recall the proper Gregg shorthand I learned in high school, then plunge ahead with my usual crippled abbreviations, hoping I can decipher the cryptic notes when I transcribe them later. The energy of the group is infectious and I laugh along with them as they poke fun at each other, gently chiding book choices and recalling the past year of meetings. Sometimes the laughter overpowers the words and if I close my eyes I might be sitting surrounded by my own book club members.

Most of the members work together and see each other frequently; some trade books aside from the monthly assignment. Like my own comfortable group, some members read more books than others, some have broader tastes than others, some read faster than others and some notice more details. There are two Kindle owners here, one who raves about the electronic reading device and one who’s not yet ready to give up the printed page.

The club’s rules emerge throughout the conversation. No children are allowed; no textbooks can be chosen (textbooks??? Someone tried to choose one once, they explain); no husbands are allowed (except that one time, but the husbands didn’t all read the book). Each member must read the assigned book (it’s okay to borrow it from another member or the library, though, which appeal to my frugal bookworm side) and must commit to attending the meetings, always held on the same day each month.

I was honored to witness a touching moment when the group presented one woman with a basket full of baby board books. “She’s becoming a grandmother for the first time,” one Girl explained. “And she’s the first grandmother in our group,” chimed in another.

I left the group armed with a reading list (to be posted in a day or two), some great ideas and a pot of daffodils! What a grand way to end the evening.

Thank you, Enzo’s Girls, for welcoming me and helping to make my first book club appearance such a success. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and next time we meet hopefully I won’t be on two kinds of cold medication and will be able to drink a glass of wine with you!