"Fear of Flying" on Thanksgiving

This year I'm spending my Thanksgiving alone. I had plans to join a friend's family and was assigned dessert. So I baked three pies (see below) and got a manicure.
But various medical situations put the bulk of her family out of commission, so here I am, halfway through the apple-cranberry.

Sure, there were other places I could have gone. I'm not a pariah. But after the events of recent weeks (all around swirled death, medical emergencies, breakups, job loss and substance abuse relapse), I chose being alone and reading. I sent my son off to his father and settled in for pie and Fear of Flying.

When I was babysitting in the mid-'70s, Fear of Flying by Erica Jong was on every mother's bedside table. A zipper opening to reveal a naked woman's torso, a salacious blurb by John Updike -- the cover was definitely compelling, but the fact that middle-aged women were reading it meant it wasn't for me.

Now that I'm middle-aged myself (OK, 20 years older than those young mothers, but never mind), I decided to give it a shot when I found it at a yard sale. And oh my. Even today, 40 years after its initial publication, it is shocking. Filthy. As Updike promised, "uninhibited." Also a perfect of-the-moment snapshot of the early '70s implementation of the late '60s decree to let it all hang out. Women's lib, sexual freedom, the foundation of the '80s "Me Generation" - it's all here.

So I'm making my way through a bevy of Thanksgiving baked goods and the sexual adventures of a fictional feminist favorite. In the back of my mind I'm worrying about the problems affecting those near and dear to me and trying to feel grateful things aren't worse than they are. In the front of my mind, though, I'm in Vienna and Heidelberg and the Upper West Side with the shrinks and the lustful Isadora.

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