Our State: Down Home in North Carolina - May, 2004
Life Is Short, But It’s Wide
by Ann Ipock. Carolina Avenue Press, 114 Carolina Avenue South, Boonville, NC 27011. 2003, 165 pages, paperback, $14.95. Available at major bookstores.
Ann Ipock writes about everyday events in a way that makes them seem hilarious and unique. How did she discover this talent? As she states in her new book, “My career as a dental hygienist ended abruptly the day I got the mayor’s mustache caught in my tooth polisher. But instead of sitting around wringing my hands … I picked up my pen and began writing. More oddities happened, and I wrote about them, too.” Thus began the career of a much-loved essayist whose upbeat, positive outlook attracts readers of all ages.
Life is Short, But it’s Wide is separated into six chapters, each a collection of personal narratives about everything from the author’s usually disastrous family gatherings to adventures with her husband Russell. The first chapter, titled “Haute Cuisine (a.k.a. Cooking My Goose),” includes a tale about Ipock dumping 10 cups of old dry grits and water down the garbage disposal. “Things were going well,” she writes, “until the disposal whined, then groaned to a slow, moaning stop. The water backed up. The grits turned to cement.”
Chapter Two, “Hobbies and Other Dangerous Diversions,” includes several essays on Ipock’s love of flowers. She happens to be married to “a Paul Bunyan-type who loves to chop down bushes, hack at limbs, and pull up flowers, such as my Oriental poppies, by mistake. ‘It looked just like a weed,’ he always mutters as I stand there, disgusted.” Once, while driving in the mountains, she convinced him to pull over so she could cut several sprigs of Queen Anne’s lace. Back in the car, they were driving along when she glanced at her lap and started screaming: her legs were covered with ticks.
Chapter Three, “You Talk Funny, Guess You’re Not Southern,” will doubtlessly touch close to home for many Southerners. She comments on such sayings as “red-ee-o” for radio, “srimp” for shrimp, “lawn-dree” for laundry, and “fartar” for fire tower.
In Chapter Five, “Fighting Technology and Other Culprits,” Ipock remarks on the various causes of anxiety for today’s average American. The leading offender, she writes, is voice mail — or, as she prefers to call it, “Voice Misery.”
Ipock’s final chapter, “Granny Pinky: The Grande Dame,” pays tribute to the grandmother whom she adored — and who once responded, when a cop asked if she had seen the yellow light she just sped through: “See it? Of course I did. Why do you think I gunned it? I was trying to get through before the danged thing turned red.” The policeman simply tipped his hat and walked back to his car.
Ipock’s first book, What Was It I Was Saying?, was so well-received, one may have wondered if she could ever top it. She has proven her lasting talent in Life is Short, But it’s Wide by producing yet another collection of humorous essays that will no doubt be even more popular than the first.
A native of New Bern, Ipock now lives in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.
— Jessie Tucker Mitchell