This follow-up volume of 13 autobiographical essays depicts a life “on destiny’s merry-go-round,” alternating witty anecdotes of good luck and bad.
Aboulafia (Snapshots from My Uneventful Life, 2015, etc.) believes “we are a reflection of what we experience in this world,” which in his case means a blend of minor disasters, averted crises, and everyday epiphanies. Even as a child, he tested his limits and assessed relationships. “Date Nut Bread,” about a dubious 1970s foodstuff from a can that often appeared in his lunchbox, was a symbol of his mother’s failure to understand kids; others got trendy treats like Oreos and salami. “The Test” recalls his alarmingly low IQ test score when entering first grade—though his reasoning was actually more advanced than the test could show. He objected that a drawing of a smiling cat jumping into a car didn’t represent happiness because cats don’t like riding in cars. Such analytical thinking skills later served the author well as a school administrator and lawyer. As in the first book, he gets a lot of comic mileage out of his youthful indiscretions, such as speeding while in possession of a suspended driver’s license. But he was still making laughable mistakes into adulthood, like when he and his wife ordered martinis from their Cape May hotel bar, not realizing they were the size of eight regular drinks. The longest essay, “Death By Whatever,” is a rollicking tale of multiple hazards narrowly avoided on a Florida vacation, such as big waves, horseflies, and barracudas. “The Ring” is the almost Solomonic fable of Aboulafia and his brother fighting over their ill father’s pinky ring, while “Scrooged!” tells of an office prank pulled on mean-spirited co-workers. Some of the more serious pieces—one about an oil burner repairman who taught him to let go of anger and another about spreading the ashes of his father’s friends—are so short they’re over before they’ve hardly begun. Overall, there are fewer memorable moments and an irksome superfluity of italics, but the mischievous tone still shines through.
Spirited stories about appreciating life’s vagaries.