EARLY BIRD by Rodney Rothman


A Memoir
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A former comedy writer for David Letterman does some up-close research on a common South Florida species—the senior citizen retiree—with “findings” more suited to stand-up routine than anthropological tome. The result: lighthearted fluff with a flair, and not without its educational value.

Out of work and pondering his not-so-immediate future, Rothman, 28, decides to get an early glimpse of retirement and soon finds himself sharing a Century Village condo with a widowed piano teacher, her several cats and one early rising parrot. Undaunted, the author dives into such delicacies as the ubiquitous nine-dollar “Early Bird” dinner special; a gambling cruise with an all-female social club; a late-night patrol with the volunteer senior citizen police, and “hard-core” bingo at a nearby strip-mall. He samples senior citizen softball, shuffleboard and canasta. He penetrates the cliquish Pool Club’s daily poolside chats. He serves bagels at the local Jewish bakery, visits a Yoko Ono art exhibit with the very unappreciative Art Appreciation Club and, at one point, even tries Viagra. Rothman comes to no profound conclusions here. The mostly Jewish fugitives from the chilly Northeast he encounters conform in general to our imagined stereotypes. Still, seeing them up close—waxing their cars at 6:30 a.m., pilfering Equal packets from the local coffee shop, exchanging surprisingly racy jokes over breakfast bagels—makes for fun reading. And the author’s fieldwork doesn’t go entirely unrewarded, yielding such oddities as Amy Ballenger, a 93-year-old stand-up comic; Artie, a 63-year-old ex-heroin addict-turned real-estate-agent; and Vivian, a sultry 75-year-old Romanian with five ex-husbands and enough sex appeal to stir even the author’s libido. Rothman also provides just enough serious data on aging (for example, the positive effects of staying active and socializing) to make this breezy, humorous tour both entertaining and rewarding.

Witty and conversational prose, peppered alternately with sarcasm and compassion: easy, enjoyable reading.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2005
ISBN: 0-7432-4217-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2005