I love this time of year. The hustle of Christmas is over, the tree and decorations are packed away (after a heroic six-hour effort!), and the annual ski trip that my son takes our family on every January wrapped up on Sunday with a celebratory breakfast honoring his 47th birthday.
It has been so uneventful the past two days that I was able to spend a lot of time trying to come up with a title for the sequel to "Angel in the Upper Peninsula."
Maybe it's just me, but I find it impossible to write a book that doesn't have a title yet. Some authors use "working titles," then come up with the real title later. I somehow need to have the book named, a solid identity, before I'm able to buckle down and write chapters for it.
And, after two full days and countless trips to the thesaurus, I did come up with a title, ultimately never using any of the words I looked up.
So, you might ask, does the title of this blog post happen to be the title to the new book? And if so, what does it have to do with the years following my leaving the Upper Peninsula? And, why did you choose such a weird title?
To answer the first question, yes, "Confessions of a Playboy Bunny Dropout - A Memoir," is the title to my new book. The answers to the next few questions is a bit more difficult. But I'll try.
While thinking about writing the first couple of chapters of the new book, one of the most prominent memories I have while staying at my mother's house in Lake Geneva during the first few weeks I was in Wisconsin was her desire for me to get a job as a Playboy bunny at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club.
The reason the memory is so salient is because of how insistent my mother was about it, how she tried so hard to convince me to become a bunny, and how hard it was for me to defy her wishes. After all, I was living in her house with my two little children, and she had just rescued me from Michigan. She said that I could make a lot of money as a bunny, and she, who happened to be a "bunny mother" at the Playboy Club at the time (someone who manages the bunny employees) could have easily gotten me the job.
The suggestion came just a day or two after I had arrived, and everyday she would bring it up, extolling the many advantages of being a bunny, not the least of which was the tip money I could earn -- hundreds of dollars a night from wealthy Playboy Club "keyholders" that visited from all over the country.
But what my mother didn't see was that I was traumatized and barely functional from living with an abusive schizoid husband since the age of 17. She was unaware that I was suffering from PTSD and was barely able to care for my three-year-old son and nine-month-old daughter. She didn't know that I suffered from panic attacks and agoraphobia. My mother was treating me like I was a normal person who was capable of putting on stiletto heels and bunny ears and serving drinks 60 hours a week (longer hours during the summer, she said). She was treating me like I didn't have two children that needed me more than they needed the hundreds of dollars a day that I could bring in.
She treated me like I could drive a car farther than a block without being completely disabled by a panic attack. She treated me like I didn't need urgent psychological help.
But I don't blame my mother for that. I have long since identified her lack of awareness to a psychological disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It's a serious disorder, and one that has serious consequences to those who have it, and those who are raised by those afflicted with it.
My mother's disapproval over my decision not to become a Playboy bunny was palpable. It would be the first rift of many to come in the ensuing years, and one I look back on with amazement and almost humor.
It wasn't easy to go against my mother's wishes. But there were two reasons that made it abundantly clear to me that it would be unthinkable to be away from the house 60 hours a week -- my children.
And so, I dropped out of being a Playboy bunny before I even started. And that is how the story of my adult life begins in "Confessions of a Playboy Bunny Dropout - A Memoir." Coming in December 2021.
My son wearing the birthday crown that his 8-year-old niece bestowed on him Sunday morning.