Bookworm: Seat backs upright, tray tables locked, get 'Fly Girl.' Buckle up!

‘Equal Partners’ is a good conversation starter for fixing the status quo in your relationship status

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Columnist

“Fly Girl”

  • By Ann Hood
  • c. 2022, W.W. Norton
  • $26.95, 269 pages

Cairo, San Juan, London, Dublin. Sometimes, you just need to get outta Dodge and out of your comfort zone by spending time in totally different surroundings. Barbados, Rome, even a quiet cabin across the state will work, if you’re in the right mood. Travel may be a little difficult these days, though, so how about some armchair travel? Read “Fly Girl” by Ann Hood and prepare for take-off.

“Fly Girl” by Ann Hood.

Ever since she was a preteen, Ann Hood wanted to be a flight attendant. She also wanted to be a writer and she figured they’d go hand-in-hand: she’d travel on-the-job, around-the-world for free and have “adventures” that would enhance her writing. That was the plan, and her dream never faded: when she was nearing college graduation and her parents asked her what she hoped to do with her English degree, she told them she was applying for flight attendant school.

She quickly found out that attending TWA’s flight school was harder than four years of college.

Hood and her classmates had to learn how to deal with drunks and heart attacks. There were dozens of things to remember, from uniform codes to weight restrictions to knowledge of airport codes to menus. They had to learn how to carry trays and fill coffee cups while wearing high heels on a moving airplane.

“Fly Girl” author Ann Hood.

There was so much to absorb, so much to know that Hood barely paid any attention to the talk of airline deregulation. She was more focused on working her way up, learning to bid schedules, and doing the best job she could. Bonding with the other attendants was important. Keeping passengers safe and happy was, too, and the ability to fly free anywhere there was an airport kept her happy. Hood dated, enjoyed her life as a single woman of the world, started writing a novel, put it away, started another, and procrastinated.

And then deregulation actually happened, and Hood was furloughed for the long-term. She downsized, wondering if she’d ever fly again, and she started writing in earnest.

“I had the best job in the world,” she said. Or maybe two of them...

Like most people with interesting careers, author Ann Hood says that folks ask her all the time for stories. If you’d like some, too, “Fly Girl” is a good answer.

Once not too long ago, flying was glamorous and special, with meal service, free drinks, and people dressed up to go. Hood’s stories casually straddle that, and the beginning of modern air travel, and they go beyond the airport. There’s not a lot of tell-all – certainly, other books in this genre are juicier – but you won’t notice the lack of scandal much, since Hood’s life outside the cabin is more heavily featured here, and those stories are just as fun. It’s like lucking out and finding that your seatmate – the person you’re delayed with on the tarmac for the next hour-and-a-half – is a former attendant and is happily, wonderfully chatty.

So. Seat backs upright, tray tables locked, get “Fly Girl.” Buckle up!

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“Equal Partners: Improving Gender Equality at Home”

  • By Kate Mangino
  • c. 2022, St. Martin’s Press
  • $29.99, 344 pages

Plates on one end, bowls on the other, glasses on top. It’s your turn to load the dishwasher tonight, but if you plead ignorance on how it’s done properly, maybe you could worm your way out of it. Somebody else’ll do it, so go sit down. Take a rest and read “Equal Partners” by Kate Mangino, then ask yourself if you could’ve assumed another chore tonight.

“Equal Partners: Improving Gender Equality at Home” by Kate Mangino.

Several years ago, researchers finally acknowledged what generations of women already knew: that many working women were responsible for a “second shift” after 5 p.m. The first shift was the job for which they received a paycheck; second shift included making meals, straightening up, schoolwork help, and all the other things that needed doing at home.

Researchers also noted that the “second shift” is detrimental to men and boys; Mangino says that such gender inequality happens around the world, restricting everyone, perpetuated by “all genders.”

Most often, she says, even when we try our hardest to maintain equality in the home, women generally take responsibility for “routine tasks” and men take “intermittent tasks.” It’s easy to slip into those roles; in fact, avoiding them takes real effort – although, interestingly enough, most same-sex couples do pretty well in “fifty-fifty equality.”

“Equal Partners: Improving Gender Equality at Home” author Kate Mangino.

Still, no matter what your domestic situation, there are always improvements to sieze that can make your household a more equitable one.

First, know that things won’t fix themselves. Do a “gender check-up” to determine where you stand in your household and on the equal-housework spectrum. Before launching into a life-altering event such as marriage, having a baby, or starting a business, know what questions to discuss with your partner so you’re closest to an agreement. Remember that “women perpetuate sexism, too” and that men generally have “Four motivational themes” for their actions. Pick some role models, and be one, too. And finally, watch your words. They might need to be “tweaked” to reflect more mindfulness.

Flip through “Equal Partners” and if you’re a man, you may feel a little on the defensive. Author Kate Mangino seems to side with women on issues of home work, but she vows that she’s not showing bias, that statistics confirm her points. Still, some readers may have a lot to overcome before reading this book about overcoming inequality at home.

Fortunately, Mangino shows why this is absolutely worth doing.

Through pages and pages of stories – some that may have you thinking Mangino was peeking in your kitchen window – she systematically lays out how things get to be how they are and what actions couples can take. There are quizzes to tackle and places for notes (a reason to buy this book outright) and if you’re still not quite convinced, there are happy interviews with dozens of people for whom satisfaction lies in change.

Though it’s not without a little abrasiveness, “Equal Partners” is a good conversation starter for fixing the status quo in your relationship status, regardless of what it is. Find this book and add another thing to your plate.

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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read past columns at marconews.com.