[Book Review] My First Five Husbands (and the ones that got away)

Written on 4/29/2012. Review of:  My First Five Husbands (and the ones that got away) by Rue McClanahan.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been on a Golden Girls / Blanche Devereaux kick and have been seeking out watching other shows with Rue in it. I found a few on Netflix to watch (Sordid Lives, the latest) and one day when I went to the library, I decided to find Rue’s book. I’m so glad I did.

Review of Rue McClanahan’s book, My First Five Husbands…and the ones that got away… 

I found myself saying “holyshitsticks!” in my head (A LOT) as I read Rue McClanahan’s book. Wowzah. Being the exact opposite of Rue, the more careful examiner of EVERYTHING I do before actually doing it and the consequences that would follow, reading this book ignited the ‘dare devil / risk taker’ in me….and every time I had to stop reading for things like – y’know – living life, going to work, finishing work and sleeping — I kept thinking of just checking out for a while to continue reading! jaja!

Overall, I just want to say that her book was so wonderfully written – adding snarky comments in parenthesis or little “go dies” to people who made her mad or saying ‘no pun intended’ while talking about something sexual that was most definitely full of pun. Her book? So full of the real southern charm and some sort of a delicate properness that instantly makes you want her to be in your life. Not to mention, the delicious tales about her relationships that leaves you thirsty for more. (I think I even learned a little something from her writing and it made me want to add even more to my very own autobiography.)

Rue’s life was a mess. Holy moly son of a gun was it ever a mess!  She made mistakes like crazy, not thinking almost anything through, before diving right into it. Imagine a diver, not ready to dive, but dives in the pool without prepping for the dive. Yep. But, I have a sneaky suspicion that she knew what she wanted, even if she… didn’t know. (I know, how’s that make sense, right?) She made the mistake of marrying just so she wouldn’t be alone – it was her panic – instead of marrying for just love or other reasons, it was so she wouldn’t be alone. Well, I guess I should say, she felt like each time if they left, they were abandoning her. That was the major downfall…acting on impulse and fear of abandonment.

She was born in a small town, and like a select few of pearl-like individuals, she knew she belonged elsewhere. She knew she was destined to be in the Big Apple: New York. When she talked about getting to New York and it was “home” to her, I smiled and I smiled BIG when I read that because I completely knew what she meant by that. (I was born in a small town, knowing that I wanted something much more than what I was confined to, I knew the whole thing with that. And, my “home” later became Florida.)

Rue was a soul that I would have loved to get to know, that’s for sure. Her life was adventurous – she traveled every where, was in several Broadway shows / plays and later TV shows, and all through her relationships, she had a child and somehow made almost all of the right decisions regarding his life while she was trying to live hers. I give her props for that. She met a ton of people, lost touch with them, and somehow they always shown back up later on in life. I learned just so much from her own words, experiences and what have you.

She often remarked with snark comment, like – everything is perfect, when will the other shoe drop? Boom! It did. Over and over again. It was crazy, her crazy life. It was like getting down to the last piece of the puzzle and that piece being the wrong one – from another puzzle. So the question would be, what? Where is the other piece of the puzzle? Time to move on and try to find it. As I write this, I found the song “Don’t Rain on My Parade” floating through my head as I thought of all of the many times her good times went astray, so to speak. 

Some of her decisions were pretty smart though – she mentioned making decisions based up on being a show person or a businesswoman. It was most telling. Not to mention, her decisions about houses and when to get rid of them upon her loss of big jobs or whatnot. She was extremely smart and you could tell.

A few things I took to note, her very little words on politics. I was so happy when she mentioned being happy that Obama won the presidential campaign of 2008 and then later mentioning being close to / seeing Bill Clinton back when he won his presidential years. Very exciting that we shared those opinions and likes of those presidents. And, the shared comments about the “one in the middle”.

Every time she said “yes, I kept that” or “I still have it” or even the “hell no, I don’t have that any more” I had to smile. Lots. I knew what she meant by that. I still have a lot of things that people gave me or life’s souvenirs.

Later on the in the book she talks some about her days of The Golden Girls. It was sad to read that some of them had issues often at times and the personal struggles within their time acting for the show. She didn’t dish a lot about the show, as promised by her, but it was enough… this book was about her, not The Golden Girls. The one thing that did stick out, all of them were animal lovers and fought for animal rights. That right there is precious. I knew about that from previous reads but it was just cool re-reading that again and learning even more of what they did.

The end of her book brought the most sad. Something that will continue to sit with me is how she lost some of the closest people to her and then said, ‘it’s the end of an era’. That’s just a really sad thought to think about…  Comparing to how *I’ve* felt when I’ve lost a huge chunk of people that I felt a deep connection with (whether I knew them or not), yeah.. it hurts…and I knew. But, how must I feel or how do I explain that the people I cared about most are all older and have passed away compared to the friends now? And how do I explain my deep connection with the famous people (not as they’re famous but themselves) who have either passed away or are alive but don’t know I exist? It goes a long ways with my thoughts of ‘the dead pay more mind to me than the alive’. But, I digress.

A quote of hers towards the end – “Not all important people are famous, and not all famous people are important. She was definitely a beautiful soul and I wish to find a Rue to be friends with some time in my life.

Also towards the end of the book, she marries one last guy that she stayed with until she died. She said, being with him felt like home. Once again, I know this feeling… and I smiled.

What a lovely, lovely book. I’m glad I finally got to read this book about one of my favorite Golden Girls. I learned a great deal of things about her that I didn’t know, rediscovered some things I did know and even learned some about the Golden Girls. But most of all, Blanche was just a character that made Rue more famous with the every day world at the time. It was another reminder that life is never like fiction. Another reminder as to why I don’t like it so much. But nonetheless, Rue and Blanche were both amazing characters while they were alive.

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