From identity theft to the hazards of bicycling to college reunions and eating on the beach, Lisa and Francesca tackle the quirks, absurdities, and wonders of everyday life with wit and warmth. As Lisa says, “More and more, especially in the summertime when I’m sitting on the beach, I’m learning not to sweat it. To go back to the child that I used to be. To see myself through the loving eyes of my parents. To eat on the beach. And not to worry about whether every little thing makes me look fat. In fact, not to worry at all.”
So put aside your worries and join Lisa Scottoline and her daughter Francesca as they navigate their way through the crazy world we live in, laughing along the way.
About the Author
FRANCESCA SERRITELLA is a New York Times bestselling author and columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University, where she won the Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize, the Le Baron Russell Briggs Fiction Prize, and the Charles Edmund Horman Prize for her creative writing. She lives in New York with one dog and one cat, so far.
Date of Birth:July 1, 1955
Place of Birth:Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1981
Read an Excerpt
Does this Beach Make Me Look Fat?
By Lisa Scottoline, Francesca Serritella
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Smart Blonde, LLC, and Francesca Scottoline Serritella
All rights reserved.
I'm Not My Type
I have a terrible personality.
According to Myers-Briggs.
My best friend sent me a version of the famous personality test to discover whether or not we would be good candidates for the CIA, hypothetically.
Because that's the type of idea my best friend and I come up with.
So she forwarded me a web link to a shortened version of the test.
Shockingly, neither of us had the spy personality; she was an INFJ and I came up with an INTJ. At first we were excited — we were just one letter off from each other — twinsies! It took a minute before I bothered to learn what my letters meant: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judgmental.
"Is that good?" I asked her over Gchat, Google's instant messaging service.
"Yeah!" she typed. She was lucky I couldn't see her face. "That's a very rare personality type."
She sent me an extended profile of my type. Sure enough, it said INTJs account for just 2% of the population, and female INTJs are only 0.8%.
I felt like a rare gem, a diamond.
Until I read the rest of the description. The only thing diamond-like about INTJ is a heart of coal.
The intro paragraph could be summed up as "Lady Macbeth."
"INTJs are defined by their tendency to move through life as if it were a giant chess board, always assessing new tactics, strategies, and contingency plans, constantly outmaneuvering their peers to maintain control."
Famous INTJs listed were Vladimir Putin, Lance Armstrong, Augustus Caesar (did you know Myers and Briggs lived Before Christ?), and Hannibal, among other Machiavellian rulers, egomaniacs, and cheats.
"I'm horrified!" I wrote to my friend.
"No! You could conquer the world!!!"
Three exclamation points are Internet-speak for overcompensating.
I can't possibly belong with these narcissists. Although, I do write about myself for a living. And I'm a formidable Scrabble opponent. Does that count?
Another section speculated about fictional INTJs. The first was Walter White from Breaking Bad.
Okay, so the superfan in me loved this. At least it wasn't Lydia.
Also Gregory House from House MD, Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs, and Professor Moriarty, mortal enemy of Sherlock Holmes. Smart but heartless characters, ranging from a know-it-all misanthrope to a cannibalistic sociopath.
Put that in my OK Cupid profile.
The only decent one was Katniss Everdeen. I haven't read those books, but she's the good one in the kill-kids-for-sport game, right?
I'm not slinging arrows, I'm grasping at straws.
My friend's chat bubble popped up again: "You're right. This is so not you. Especially the parenting stuff."
Parenting section? I found it, and — oof — the INTJ parent makes the Tiger Mother sound like a kitten:
"Not prone to overt displays of physical affection ... perfectionistic, often insensitive. When it comes to emotional support, INTJs ... will likely never deliver the sort of warmth and coddling children crave."
I don't have children yet, but I have a dog and a cat who are my babies. I let them sleep in my bed, I kiss them on the mouth, I cook for them, and I tell them they are brilliant and beautiful — although they listen best when I'm holding a treat. I even brush my dog's teeth three times a week.
Believe me, I can coddle with the best of them.
I was Italian before I was INTJ.
At the end, the profile stated, "Remember, all types are equal."
Oh, sure. That's why you listed history's greatest super-villains in my group.
I hate this. My astrological sign, Aquarius, never suited me either. The descriptions say things like: a flighty air sign, a social butterfly, no one can hold on to you for long! Meanwhile, I've had the same five close girlfriends since I was eleven, I'm a serial monogamist, and I'm a homebody who enjoys nesting.
Aquarius wouldn't let me sit at her lunch table.
Anyone who has been on Facebook recently has seen their feeds inundated with those "Which Disney Princess/Dog Breed/Game of Thrones House/Alcoholic Beverage Are YOU?" personality quizzes. Who among us hasn't clicked on one?
Who among us hasn't taken one twice for a better outcome?
The last one I took promised to tell me who would play me in a movie. My answer:
I get that all the time.
I never believed in astrology, much less an online personality test, and yet I'm still curious and then disappointed when they aren't what I want to hear. What are we looking for in these quizzes? Validation? Recognition? Any excuse not to do work?
Well, I'm done. I'm more than a type, a star sign, or an algorithm. I know myself better than anyone.
And I'd be great in the CIA.CHAPTER 2
It's time you knew I had fleas.
As if I weren't single enough.
Apparently, being single is like being broke. You don't think you can get broker than broke, but you can.
Just ask the government.
Oh. Wait. They're closed.
Oh, sorry. They're open again.
Anyway, it's not my fault I have fleas, it's my dogs' fault. As you may know, I have five dogs: Ruby The Crazy Corgi, dysfunctional couple Little Tony and Ms. Peach, and Bromantic Puppies Boone and Kit.
I don't know which dog is to blame for our fleas and have questioned them repeatedly, but none of them is confessing.
Boone and Kit have asked for a lawyer.
Peach and Tony blame the cats.
Ruby claims it's a conspiracy, but that's how corgis think. Paranoia is an occupational hazard for herding dogs, and let's be real, you never know when there's a wolf hiding around the corner to kill your sheep.
People, corgis are here to tell you. Keep an eye on your sheep.
I started noticing that the dogs were scratching a few months ago, or maybe it was last year. The thing about having a flea problem is that when you have it, you don't even remember your life before fleas. It's like life before Internet, happy and quiet.
We were happy, right?
I never had a flea problem before, so when it first happened, I denied it. I simply pretended that it wasn't happening. This isn't hard to do if you just look the other way.
Until you start itching.
And then you want to burn your house down.
Seriously, when I found a flea on my leg, I couldn't wash my dogs fast enough. I had them in the tub every other day. I started out with the organic, all-natural flea shampoo, but when that didn't work, I segued into something radioactive.
Sometimes a girl needs a good pyrethrin.
And whoever banned DDT should be shot.
Because the thing about a flea problem is that it doesn't mean washing only the dogs. It means washing your clothes, sheets, pillowcases, blankets, comforters, and any blankets on the chairs. It means the washing machine is running continuously and the rugs are being vacuumed constantly.
You may be wondering why this is so, and it's because fleas have a life cycle.
By the way, if you happen to be eating while you're reading this, you should either stop eating or stop reading, because what follows will disgust you.
The bottom line is that if you have a flea problem, you are going to wish you listened in Biology. You need to know about fleas, eggs, pupas, and larvae.
Larvae is not a word you want in your life.
Much less in your bed.
By the way, larvae is the plural. I don't know what the singular is, and believe me, it doesn't matter. My experience with larvae is that there is never just one.
That's how larvae think.
They travel together, like wolves. Only you're the sheep.
See? Ruby is right again.
The most fun part of a flea problem is that you actually turn into a corgi, ever watchful, always on guard. I inspect myself constantly to make sure none of my moles are jumping.
I'm always combing through the dogs' fur with my fingers, in every nook and cranny. They told me they feel molested.
I scrutinize my sheets for telltale black dots, which are called flea dirt. Actually, the vet called it flea dirt, so I assumed that it was dirt that fell off fleas. But when I came home and looked it up online, I found out that it was actually flea poop.
First, who knew that fleas poop?
See what I mean?
There is no bottom to any of this. Just when you thought it was as disgusting as it can get, it gets more disgusting.
Just ask the government.CHAPTER 3
For Your Information
Information is like turkey and stuffing.
It's hard to tell when you've had enough.
And the more you get, the more you want.
At least that's how I feel. I'm bad at portion control, whether it's Thanksgiving dinner or information.
Obviously, I don't believe there's such a thing as too much information. If you read this series, you know about my bunions, fleas, cellulite, and Mother Mary.
One of these is to be avoided at all costs.
Not the one you think.
FYI, I love information. I always want more. When I look back at my life, I know the things I wouldn't have done if I'd had more information. I'm talking Thing One, Thing Two, and Amway products.
But it turns out you can get more information than ever before, and I am giving thanks.
Because I heard about this kit you can buy, test yourself, and find out your DNA.
I went to the website to learn about it, astounded. You order the kit, test your saliva, and send it back to the company.
Yes, you mail them your spit.
I'm wondering if I can mail them my cellulite, too.
Plus a few fleas.
Anyway, I am excited about this, and I ordered one for Daughter Francesca and one for me.
Merry Christmas, Francesca!
I don't know if Francesca wants a DNA kit for Christmas. If she doesn't, I'll take the test twice. Maybe my score will improve, like the SATs.
I didn't get a DNA kit for Mother Mary. I can find out what's in her DNA by looking in the mirror.
Also, can you imagine asking Mother Mary for a saliva sample?
"Here!" she'd say, and spit in my face.
So why do I want to do this? The test can let you know tons of things about yourself. For example, if you're a carrier of fifty-three different diseases, including Maple Syrup Urine Disease.
I bet you didn't even know that existed.
Neither did I.
Maybe Mrs. Butterworth had it.
I'm not sure what Maple Syrup Urine Disease is, but I'm guessing it's a disease that makes your urine look like maple syrup.
In that case, my medical advice would be simple.
Don't pee on your pancakes.
It may look right, but it won't taste right.
The test also lets you know if you're at risk for 122 diseases, including back pain.
Okay, maybe I already know that one.
The test can determine sixty of my genetic traits, but I already know a lot of those, too. For example:
Eye Color: Bloodshot Blue.
Hair Color: Fake.
Breast Morphology: Presently Morphing Due to Gravity and Unfairness of Life in General.
Earwax Type: Johnson's.
Eating Behavior: Rapid and Unattractive.
Food Preference: Yes.
Caffeine Consumption: Dunkin' Donuts.
Odor Detection: How dare you.
Pain Response: Ouchy.
Muscle Performance: Slack and Wasting.
Response to Exercise: Procrastination.
Response to Diet: Not Applicable.
The test can even tell you whether you're a carrier or at risk of a disease based on whether you originate from Europe, East Asia, or Africa. Sadly, there is no separate category for those of us who originate from South Philly.
Interestingly, the kit can also tell you about your own ancestry. Both my mother and father were Italian-American, so I always assumed I was a purebred.
But maybe not.
And if I'm not Italian, somebody has to explain my nose.
The test can even determine what percent of my DNA comes from Neanderthals, which the website calls a Neanderthal Percentage.
I thought we all came from Neanderthals, but maybe not. Maybe there are other kinds of Thals.
The website says that Neanderthals have a bigger skull, which sounds exactly like me. Mother Mary always said I have a hard head, and now I have an excuse.
It's in my DNA.
In fact, it's her fault.
But will you be the one to tell her?CHAPTER 4
Back to School
I wasn't sure what to expect for my five-year college reunion. All I knew was that it wasn't going to be a victory lap.
I feel lucky to have gone to Harvard. I got a great education, and I made a handful of very close friends and lasting connections with professors. But I didn't always love Harvard, and Harvard didn't always love me.
I had crazy roommates. I had a couple friendships that went down in flames.
I had one professor who hated my guts. I had many more who couldn't pick me out of a lineup.
I wasn't the president of any clubs. I co-founded one, but I left after my co-founder demoted me for rejecting his sexually offensive behavior.
I tried to have fun and find myself along the way, but mostly I worked my butt off and kept my head down.
So my thoughts about going to the reunion were mixed. But nervous energy and curiosity are closely related, and I had far too much of both to skip it.
The only thing I wasn't worried about was running into my college sweetheart. And not because I've matured beyond ex-boyfriend-anxiety — God no, do we ever grow out of that? — but because I knew he wouldn't be there. He's in the military and married. I expected the former would keep him too busy to come, and on the off chance he did show, the latter lent a finality that made things no longer interesting.
And anyway, I was much more intimidated to see ex-friends than ex-lovers. Women are ten times scarier than men. And I had some straight-up mean girls in my collegiate past. These were the interactions I was rehearsing in my head on the train ride up to Boston.
My plan was to take the high road, and take it fast. I wanted to rip off the Band-Aid and avoid an evening of side-eye over drinks. So I made a point to say hello to the Queen Bee as soon as I saw her.
She's a doctor now, so at least if she cut me, she could also stitch me up.
We shared a stiff hug and some small chat. It wasn't as bad as I thought.
I had the Hippocratic Oath on my side.
Or maybe she just didn't scare me anymore.
I counted that a win.
Later, a guy I sort-of knew, a biochemistry major, now PhD student, came over to say hello. I remembered him as nerdy but sweet. He was one of those guys you're not interested in when you're young, but then you think back on with a little regret. As we were chatting, I thought, maybe I had judged him too superficially, I bet he's going to make some girl really happy.
"So, are you married?" he asked.
"No. But I'm dating someone," I said.
"Are you engaged?"
I held up my bare hand. "Nope. Are you?"
"No, but," he placed his hand on my lower abdomen and said, "Clock is ticking."
I looked down at his hand and then up at him with a look that drained the color from his face.
"Sorry, that was weird," he said.
"Ye-ah." I backed away.
Some people are best left in the lab.
The rest of the evening, I had a good time with my friends, although most of them were the same people I still hang out regularly with in my adult life.
At the end of the night, in the ladies'-room line, I ran into a girl I knew only tangentially because she dated a friend of mine. In college, she seemed to have it all — she held a prestigious position in her activities, she did well in her classes, she was ambitious and outgoing. Back then I'd heard rumors she didn't like me, but because I have the type of self-esteem only an Italian mother can instill, I didn't believe it. How could she not like me when we hardly knew each other?
That she struck up a conversation with me now only seemed to confirm my sense that we were on the cusp of being friends. I greeted her warmly.
"So I just got to have a half-hour conversation with my asshole-ex-boyfriend. Isn't reunion the best?" she said.
Game for girl-bonding, I commiserated. "Exes are the worst. I'm lucky, my college boyfriend isn't here."
"I know who that is. You dated ..." and she said my ex's full name for the whole line to hear, which struck me as edgy. Maybe we weren't about to become new pals.
She didn't leave me wondering long, as she added, "He's an assassin now, right?" I recoiled. "He's serving in our armed forces, if that's what you mean."
"He shoots people out of an airplane, doesn't he? What's the difference?"
"There's a pretty big difference." With the "ABORT" alarm blinking in my brain, I tried to escape her when it was my turn in the restroom, but she found me again by the sinks. I refused to meet her eyes in the mirror, but I could feel her reflection glaring at me.
"He's married now, you know," she said.
I walked away; she followed. "I do know," I said, "and we're on good terms. I'm proud of him, and I wish him the best." I was now striding away from her, but she was literally jogging to keep up.
"They have a child, did you know that?"
I didn't. And hearing it from her first embarrassed me. But I was more flustered by this near stranger's animosity toward me and overinvolvement in my life. I turned to face her, held up my hand, and said only, "Stop."
She laughed in a weird way, and I wasted no time getting away from her. When there was some distance between us, I heard her shout:
"Their baby's name is Henry!"
I could only shake my head.
Excerpted from Does this Beach Make Me Look Fat? by Lisa Scottoline, Francesca Serritella. Copyright © 2015 Smart Blonde, LLC, and Francesca Scottoline Serritella. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction Lisa 1
I'm Not My Type Francesca 5
Jumpy Lisa 9
For Your Information Lisa 13
Back to School Francesca 17
We Have a Winner Lisa 22
Judge Not, Lest Ye Be a Pain in the Ass Lisa 25
City Mouse, Country Cat Francesca 28
Baby Me Lisa 31
The Real Me Francesca 36
Task Master Lisa 39
Old and New Lisa 43
Bettor for Worse Francesca 46
Geared Up! Lisa 49
Mother Mary Gets Religion Lisa 53
Howdy Neighbor Francesca 56
Fight the Power Lisa 61
The Truth Tastes Delicious Lisa 64
Still Here, Kitty? Francesca 67
Dr. Mother Mary Lisa 71
I'm What's Cooking Lisa 74
Mother Mary Lisa 77
Fear of Flying Lisa 81
Love Without Rough Edges Francesca 84
Mother Mary and Frank Sinatra Lisa 88
Who Needs It? Francesca 92
Rollin' On Lisa 98
We Knew You Wouldn't Amount to Anything Lisa 101
Hardball at the Gym Francesca 104
Credit Where Credit Is Due Lisa 107
Guilt Tripping at 65 MPH Francesca 111
Hissy Fit Bit Lisa 114
Can You Keep a Secret? Francesca 118
My TV Is Smarter Than Your Honor Student Lisa 124
Going, Going, Gonzo Lisa 127
Here's a Howdy Do Francesca 130
In Search of Selfie Lisa 135
This Is Your Dog on Drugs Lisa 139
Working Out on Mount Olympus Francesca 142
An App a Day Lisa 145
I'm Spending My Granddog's Inheritance Lisa 148
The Rebound Francesca 151
Birthday Present Lisa 156
Rescue Me Lisa 159
Rite of Tram Passage Francesca 162
Recycled Lisa 167
Life Among the Ruins Francesca 170
In It to Win It Lisa 173
My Buddy Lisa 176
Check, Please? Francesca 180
;) Lisa 185
It's a Miracle! Lisa 188
I Want What I Want Lisa 191
The Mutual Fade-Out Francesca 194
The Good Wife or the Dumb Wife? Lisa 199
Troublemaker Lisa 202
Seeing Ghosts Francesca 206
Quarantine Me Lisa 210
Keeping Abreast Lisa 213
If I Were Beyonce Francesca 217
Hot Mama Lisa 221
Princess Lisa Lisa 224
Moist Lisa 227
OK Freud Francesca 230
Sweet Tooth Lisa 234
You're Just Some Appliance That I Used to Know Lisa 238
Women's Rights and Wrongs Lisa 241
Hot or Not at the Gym Francesca 244
Twisted Sister Lisa 249
Good Grief Lisa 253
Carbs of Peace Francesca 257
Thru Flu Lisa 263
Tread Lightly Lisa 266
Hot Wheels Francesca 269
The Second-Greatest Generation Lisa 274
Cliff Diving Francesca 278
Does This Beach Make Me Look Old? Lisa 285