🕺 I Like To Move It, Move It...
The Crime: Keep Moving: And Other Truths About Living Well Longer
The Guilty Party: Dick Van Dyke
Overview: The more you learn about Van Dyke's personal life, the more he comes off as a gigantic douche.
Why I Hate It...I have a lot of affection for Dick Van Dyke. I grew up watching Mary Poppins and reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show. (Yes, especially the walnut episode!) So I borrowed this from the library expecting it to be charming and familiar and warm and fuzzy--like a favorite bedtime story as narrated by Morgan Freeman. Ostensibly a how-to guide for the nonagenarian, I thought it would secretly be a blend of philosophy and memoir with a dash of the self-deprecating humor and unflinching geniality that was the core of his appeal as a young actor.
There is no progression or organization of thought, so anything that feels vaguely like a theme or memorable factoid shows up repeatedly and without warning. The text is somehow both stilted and overwritten. Prose problems range from mere redundancy--"...the daily routines that filled her days" and "I wasn't just surprised, I was in shock"--to seriously clunky nonsense--"...they really want to know how I've managed to grow old without growing up, and the answer is this: I haven't grown up." There is no joke that doesn't have its punchline explained to the reader. When describing his own wedding, he ends it with "...it was the best wedding I've ever been to--and the best part is I was in it!" Even chapter titles like "Sit or Get Off the Pot Roast" can't go without being explicitly commented on. It's like he doesn't trust the reader to laugh in the right spots.
Later, when Van Dyke talks about meeting his new wife, the 46-years-his-junior Arlene Silver, it's supposed to have a meet-cute feel. But if you do the math (and I did!) you realize that his fawning over her and taking her to dinner and offering her a job out of the blue all happened years before Triola died. And then it all becomes kinda skeezy. He tries to depict it as a "blossoming friendship" but the creepy-old-man vibe never goes away, especially when he talks about proposing to Silver dozens of times and her laughing because she assumes it's always a joke. It's kind of mind-boggling that he just volunteers all of this information as though it's something to be proud of. The lack of self-awareness is staggering.
I still like the man, and I would never begrudge anyone their honest-won success and happiness. Hell, I'm happy for him. I hope he lives another twenty years. But if you want to celebrate his life, skip this book and find some reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
In CONSUMED WITH HATE, Kurt is revisiting media that he absolutely did not like one bit. See more posts.