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The Monday Book: OUR FAMILY OUTING by Joe Cobb and Leigh Anne Taylor

a guest review by Beth O’Connor

Imagine for a moment that you have two small children, and your husband is one of four pastors at the large church where you are the minister of music. Now imagine what would happen when your husband determines that he can no longer deny the fact that he is gay.

Pain. Denial. Pain. Self-doubt. Pain. Anger. Pain. Shame. Pain. And more pain. An ocean of pain that threatened to drown everything. Yet, as deep as the ocean is, their faith in God was deeper. It was the lifeline they used to haul themselves up out of the darkness.

This is Our Family Outing, the autobiographical story Joe Cobb and Leigh Ann Taylor published in 2011 via TotalPublishingAndMedia. Told in alternating voices, Our Family Outing details Cobb and Taylor’s journey from being one very traditional family to two families who are anything but. All of the emotions in the process are poured out, from Taylor’s worst fear (What if my husband infects me with AIDS and leaves our children orphaned) to Cobb’s greatest joy (the birth of his and his partner’s second adoptive child).

Full disclosure: I discovered this book because Taylor is currently the music minister at the church I attend and my church book club went to her signing event. The book starts at the end, with Cobb and Taylor determining that they need to share their story with the world. The memoir takes you from the days they first started dating in seminary, to deciding how to tell their friends, family and co-workers, to creating separate lives in which everyone is loved and accepted for who they are.

The book can be awkward to read as Cobb and Taylor refused to avoid any of the uncomfortable situations in which they found themselves. As a reader, you will feel as though you accidently stumbled into someone’s private conversation and cannot find a way to escape from the room without being discovered. The description of their lives is deeply personal – such as Cobb’s fear that a lover from his high school years will give away his secret, to Taylor relating that early in the process her husband, “my favorite companion” did not smile at her for a year and a half.

Cobb and Taylor are not professional writers, and it shows – the writing is often clunky and disjointed. However, instead of distracting from the narrative, the raw style serves to underline how very real the story is. The book comes full circle, with the oldest of Cobb’s adoptive children playing The Game of Life and noting that everyone is along for the ride.

 

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Pluck It….

Okay, so I’m just a quiet little person with a happy small life who runs a sweet wee bookstore in the middle of nowhere. I like it that way. New York doesn’t know me, and DC sure doesn’t ask my opinion about anything–or, for that matter, care to hear it offered unsolicited.

I just run a bookstore. That’s enough politics–large and small “p”–for me. So let me say this one thing, and then I’ll go back to being that cheerful pudgy woman who sells books and keeps her mouth shut about the crap flying around in the real world.

“IT’S A SODDING SANDWICH AND THEY’RE BLOODY PUPPETS! NOW WOULD YOU PLEASE GET OVER YOUR TOO-EARNEST-BY-HALF SELVES!”

I understand economic sanctions. I still assign my college students the film “Food, Inc.” and ask on the final exam why bovine hormone milk got pulled off Walmart’s shelves  (Answer: D because shoppers voted with their wallets by not buying it).

But I have cousins who think I’m halfway down the slippery laundry chute to Hell because I still shop at Lowe’s (when my local hardware doesn’t have what I need) and EVERYBODY knows that Lowe’s supports “the homosexual agenda.”

I’m sorry, but I have many gay and lesbian friends, most of whom couldn’t organize their way out of a paper bag.

Yet now those friends are threatening to cut me off if I continue displaying in my shop the cow calendar from Chick-Fil-A. (They put out a very funny one with parodies of literary classics, like “Old Mooler,” and “Jack the Flipper.”)

Get over it, lads and ladies; I think those cows are cute – sometimes cuter than you. The calendar stays. I’m not taking advice on what not to eat from a pig wearing way too much mascara and bling for daytime television, nor accepting religious guilt from a cow.

Put bluntly, Chick-Fil-A and the Muppets are each corporations having a field day with the marketing boom from this gleeful exchange of crossfire. Keep playing these stupid games, you two, and I will learn to live without either of you. It’s not like you have feelings. It’s not like you’re people.

It’s more like you’re laughing all the way to the bank at how easy it is to wind up those little toys called consumers…..

Now please leave me alone to finish this chicken strips basket, so I can go back to working my bookstore. Thank you.

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Filed under folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA