Dad/dude Zevin driven to humor
Go along for author’s fourth ride (to Costco) in ‘Dan Gets a Minivan’
USA TODAY US Edition By Bob Minzesheimer
LARCHMONT, N.Y. — Author Dan Zevin is driving his minivan (a 2011 Toyota Sienna with room for seven) to what he calls “my club,” as in Costco, the discount warehouse.
Zevin’s latest book is Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad (Scribner, $24), which deals with, among other things, the joys of discovering a bargain at Costco in “aisle 43,000.”
At 47, Zevin is more dad than dude. He, his wife and their two kids (Leo, 9, and Josephine, 6, in school at the moment) have left behind hipster Brooklyn for life in the suburbs, 18 miles northeast of Manhattan.
Perched in what he calls “the captain’s chair of my maxivan,” he recalls the jokes of urban friends: “Does the driver’s manual teach you how to be boring?”
But his van is “comfortable,” he says with a shrug. “It’s like driving around in your living room.”
It’s Zevin’s fourth book of personal essays: He has moved from Entry-Level Life (1998) to The NearlyWed Handbook (2001) to The Day I Turned Uncool (2002). He explains the gaps this way: “I wouldn’t have any material if I didn’t spend those years living through the stages I wind up writing about.”
His wife, Megan Tingley, is a children’s book publisher in Manhattan. Zevin is a stay-athome dad who notes that “having children gives every writer what they’re really searching for: an excuse not to write.”
But kids supply homegrown material for an essayist. In the suburbs, Zevin writes, his kids enjoy a playground “notable not only for what it had (grass), but also for what it didn’t (a sign at the entrance that warned: Rat Poison in This Area).”
Before moving from Brooklyn two years ago, he thought of the suburbs as where “all the dads were absentee fathers. All the moms are desperate housewives. You have to drive everywhere. The taxes will kill you, and if they don’t, a vicious deer in your backyard will.”
But in Larchmont, he has found “the best of both worlds,” plus ample parking and a nearby Costco, where he loves to marvel at the 128-ounce jars of mayonnaise, the 10-pound bags of carrots and the casket display “metaphorically located near the exit.” (His chapter on how his dad introduced him to Costco is titled “The Day I Turned Into My Father.”)
Books are not on Zevin’s shopping list, but he visits Costco’s book section — no shelves, just stacks, including 23 copies of Dan Gets a Minivan.
“You know I wrote this?” he tells another shopper, Olga Luz Perez, a teacher and consultant, who says she’s an avid reader but has never met an author at Costco.
She ends up buying a copy, which the author autographs. He then calls his 76-year-old dad, a gynecologist in New Jersey.
“The taxes will kill you, and if they don’t, a vicious deer in your backyard will.”
Zevin’s view of the suburbs, until he moved there “Dad,” Zevin says on the phone, “I’m at Costco, and Adam they’ve got my book.” firm has optioned Dan Gets a
“How many did you buy?” asks Ronald Zevin. “None, but I sold one.” Zevin’s first and only real job, after graduating NYU, was as the gear and equipment editor of Walking magazine, where he was assigned to write a review of celebrity fitness videos.
He wrote a serious one for Walking, then a parody for Spy magazine, which led to a career as a humorist. Adam Sandler’s production frim has optioned Dan Gets a Minivan as possible Tv Series, “a surreal thrill,” Zevin says. This Sunday, Father’s DAy, he plans to spend “some quality time out ogf the minivan.” His dad is invited for brunch, Zevin reports: “He asked me what he could bring, and I told him not to bring anything, though I’m sure he’ll show up with a Costco fruit salad that should last us unitl Father’s Day of 2013.”