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Washington DC, Radio, and Miss Pauline

I’m in Washington D.C., on a break from a radio tour. Yes, a radio tour. The way it works, just in case I’m not the only one who didn’t know this, is that I stay put near a landline (not so easy a thing to find these days) and every 10 minutes or so the phone rings, and Kim and Kia put me through to a radio station somewhere in North America. New Mexico, North Carolina, Illinois, even Edmonton, Alberta — one  by one they’re patched through (mark this as the first time I’ve had cause to use the verb “to patch”), and we chat, and I try to remember to mention my book title at least once.


Beside my feet, keeping me grounded, is a lovely 3-legged dog named NoLa–as in, New Orleans, Louisiana. Nola is a Katrina rescue dog, once found scavenging beside the road in a semi-submerged section of the city, now resting on a suede dog bed in Georgetown. I figure she’s the dog equivalent of Larry David’s family Black. I’m very pleased to meet her.

Last night’s Philadelphia reading at Delicious was terrific — a wonderful mix of old friends and new readers. And, my first sighting of $700 corsets and a male corseter –Sima’s jaw would have dropped. It reminded me, too, that I haven’t blogged about my New York reading at Bra Smyth.  Guess who was there? You’ll never guess. OK, I’ll tell you.

Drumroll, please.

Miss Pauline! 

Miss Pauline, who as I mention on another page on this website, was the owner of the bra-shop where I was fitted for my first bra, and the inspiration for the setting of Sima’s Undergarments for Women. Well, an old high school friend heard about my novel through facebook, and she not only knew Miss Pauline’s from her own Junior High bra-fitting experience, but she also knew Miss Pauline’s grandson, a lawyer with whom she’d worked. And so she emailed him about the novel, and he emailed me, and he went to his grandmother’s house and showed her this website, and got her the book, and–

She came to the reading. And brought the whole mishpacha: son and daughter-in-law, two grandsons, and even a great-granddaughter.

She looked fabulous. Fur coat, pink lipstick, big hug. I was worried she’d hate the book, but clearly she enjoyed it — she talked Jewish bra-shop lineage with Sandi, the owner of Bra Smyth (“Frishman’s in the Bronx–sure, I remember”) and posed for pictures with me. It also turned out that I wasn’t the only fan in the room. “You fitted me for my first bra!” a woman said, holding out her hand. “Lisa Safier–remember my mother?” Miss Pauline, who at this point I think I can mention is actually named Leah Kruger, most certainly did. “Here,” she said, taking Lisa’s copy of my novel, “I’ll sign it for you.”

Afterwards, Leah Kruger took my publicist aside. “Who’s idea for a cover was this?” she asked, gesturing to the retro-bra advertisement. “They won’t buy it in Boro Park.” Then she gave us the names and addresses of Boro Park yentas who, if given the book in plain cloth, might help spread the word: “On 13th and 51st, you want to ask for Chansie–” 

Chansie, if you’re reading this: We’ll sell you all the cover-less copies you want. 10% discount, nu?

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  1. Radio redux, and hold the babies, please.

One Comment

  1. Jan A. Coleman says:

    Ilana–What a fabulous story and a delightful footnote to reading the book.

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