Alert the media! (Wait, we are the media.)
A review by Larchmont writer Amalie Howard
When life is on fast-forward from singledom to coupledom to parentdom with a crash course in survivaldom, you have to roll with the punches. In Larchmont resident Dan Zevin’s case, he rolls his way into the ultimate “collapsible-seating, DVD-playing, GPS-touting, satellite radio-jamming” driving machine. And life as he knows it is about to go from driveway to highway.
“When life deals you a minivan, you might as well enjoy the ride.”
Having moved from New York City to Westchester almost twelve years ago, I can still say that I’m teetering at the Intersection of Chick and Carpool, so “Dan Gets a Minivan-Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad is like an odd reflection of my own life, minus of course the scruffy facial hair and ungroomed fingernails. Ok fine, same on the facial hair.
Just for the record, I’ve been living in suburban bliss for the last twelve years, and I have yet to give in to the sultry temptation of the minivan. Instead, I compromised with a tricked-out, seven-seater black SUV with tinted windows and 20-inch chrome spinner rims. Ok, I’m totally kidding about the rims, but that’s how we roll. That said, reading DAN GETS A MINIVAN almost makes me want to get a “maxivan” of my very own!
Chock full of laugh out loud moments and completely irreverent humor, this social commentary of a life/dog/children/job juggling dad will have you in stitches. As if growing up isn’t bad enough, growing up while being a responsible adult is a whole different ball game. Zevin’s hilarious account of life after marriage and children won’t let you go once you turn the first page. Not only does he tackle the inevitable poop in the bathtub (soup ladle solution, who knew?), he doesn’t shy away from the Statistical Analysis of Child-Rearing versus Shit-Giving (diagrammed) or filling out a Lower Extremity Rehabilitation Journal while on Percocet (journaled). Zevin lays it all out in pure, unadulterated comedy that is so close to the truth, it hurts. Laughing, that is.
On this haphazard journey, Dan figures out how to be the semi-cool rocker dad and how to play a mean game of tennis, all the while being a blogger, writer, husband, speaker father, son, chauffeur, dog-walker and soul-mate. It’s all in a day’s ride in the minivan. By the time you get to the end of the quirky misadventures of Daddy Dan, with glimpses of the tennis-white clad ladies in Starbucks, the glorious Metro North commute and two-car garages on tree lined blocks, you’ll know exactly where you are. Because you’re in Westchester, dude … the holy grail of minivans.
DAN GETS A MINIVAN is a definite must-read for your summer reading list, and one that will be enjoyed by dudes, chicks, couples, parents and parents-to-be, future suburbanites, and especially all the aloof hipster dads at the playground.
Author’s Note: This interview was conducted over coffee at Aroma in Larchmont, which I thought was just going to be coffee since I’d emailed Dan all the interview questions. Not so much. Strolling around the corner, looking like the epitome of relaxed cool, Dan announces, “let’s do this interview.” After staring at him like a deer in the proverbial headlights, I scrambled for an old envelope in my bag and a pen. Professional, I know. So Dan started talking and in between all the laughing, I started scribbling down his answers like an old-school pro. Now if only I could decipher my own handwriting …
What made you want to write this book?
I wanted to write an honest book … a funny book that was honest and candid of all the ups and downs of moving from couplehood to familyhood. One of the biggest surprises for me has been how much female readers are loving the book. It’s really about parenthood, not just fatherhood. It started with the trunk. Everywhere we went, it was like a moving van full of gear but once the kids got older, everything started shrinking. We couldn’t fit the jolly jumper. All the seats couldn’t fit. So we got the minivan. But this book is not about a minivan, it’s a coming-of-middle-age tale. To me, this is my midlife crisis. Midlife, no crisis. I’m cool with it.
Does your minivan have a name?
My minivan is named Max. Because it is a maxi-van. There’s nothing mini about it.
How much poetic license do you take in this book—in other words, how much of it is real? You know, real real?
When you write comedy, you take the truth and you have license to exaggerate and embellish it. That’s where it gets really funny. And nobody can sue you.
What car would you put in your second garage, after the minivan?
We now have two cars. We had a car before the minivan that we bought new that’s now 15 or 16 years old. It was a Subaru sedan. I tried to sell it in Brooklyn and couldn’t unload it, but some friends of ours in Brooklyn finally bought it. Then they came to visit us in Larchmont a year later because they were thinking about moving to the burbs and having another kid. When I saw our old car, I asked if we could buy it back because we suddenly needed two cars even though the maxivan is the size of their whole apartment. At first, they said “no,” but then they called me the next week and said they’d sell it back to me because they’re having another kid and they want to get a minivan. The cycle continues. Now my beat-up old car is sitting in our driveway with a Brooklyn bumper sticker on it and a “Brooklyn bumper” that is completely decimated. A “Brooklyn bumper” is one that is completely scratched and beat-up from all the parallel parking. It’s like being reunited with a child you gave up for adoption. It’s a little piece of my former life.
What can readers expect from you in the future?
I’m currently working on a YouTube talk show with Larchmont Mamaroneck Cable TV. I interview interesting locals inside my minivan. They sit in one Captain’s seat and I sit in the other. It’s called Dan Zevin’s Star Vehicle. It’s a talk show that makes celebrities out of civilians. I’m also writing for magazines. I did a recent piece for The Wall Street Journal (A Ride In Dad’s Traveling Think Tank). It was an essay about this generation of parents who drive their kids around while their kids are plugged in and playing with screens versus when I was a kid and parents called the shots. I’m also working on my website and blog, and doing some funny radio commentaries for NPR. DAN GETS A MINIVAN was also optioned by Adam Sandler as a television sitcom so we’re in the early stages of that.