Randy and Barbara Fitzgerald
Find Life’s Laughs in Flights of Fancy
Award-winning columnist Randy Fitzgerald and his wife, Barbara, get the humor soaring in a new book, FLIGHTS OF FANCY: Stories, Conversations and Life Travels with a Bemused Columnist and His Whimsical Wife, published by Beach Glass Books.
Flights, a $14.95 paperback, is a collection of columns and anecdotes shared by Randy – columnist for The Richmond News Leader, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Boomer magazine – and Barbara – freelance writer and advertising/marketing expert. The couple long has been a favorite both in print and on the local lecture tour.
Randy writes of the ordinary and the outrageous events in the life of one man’s family, including an encounter with eight members of the British Royal family (yes, including the queen) on a London street and another with Willie Nelson in a Nashville parking lot.
But did Randy also take his bride on a honeymoon to the Putt-Putt capital of the world? Did he flood his family’s home to the tune of $13,000 in damages? And did Barb back the car over his Martin guitar? Did she get the couple’s love story featured in Good Housekeeping magazine?
Yes to all that and much, much more. Barb, his wife of 31, 46 or 56 years (it all depends on how you count) confirms and explains it all with her amused and amusing commentaries. Dozens of photographs and Douglas Payne illustrations enhance the stories.
FLIGHTS OF FANCY: Stories, Conversations, and Life Travels with a Bemused Columnist and His Whimsical Wife, Beach Glass Books, published October 10, 2017. ISBN 978-0-9987881-2-8. Paperback, $14.95, 5.5 by 8.5 inches, 192 pages, 32 B&W photographs/ illustrations
“SHORT FLIGHTS” (little bitty samples)
An excerpt from “Choose the Girl in the Tree”
On Sunday morn, I walked over to the track at the hospital and watched from a distance as a young woman climbed a tree. I smiled to behold her the way one might smile at a babbling brook or a morning glory. She was one of the beautiful gifts the world occasionally provides for jaded eyes.
She was about my daughter’s age, I think, and when I first saw her, she was walking with two friends who were obviously a couple.
As I watched, she caught sight of a low branch on a maple tree and, in one graceful move, swung up onto it and disappeared among red and gold leaves. I could hear her laughter ringing among the branches, all lightness and youth and sheer joy of living. I couldn’t wait to get around the curve of the track and bring the little group back into view because I knew something about the scene was speaking to me.
When I could see them again, the girl was high up in the tree, her green shirt appearing and disappearing among the red and gold like some last vestige of summer leaf, darting and dodging to avoid the inevitable transforming hand of autumn.
The boy below was making a half-hearted effort to climb the tree himself, but he was more a linebacker than a tree climber and wasn’t up to the leap of faith it took to swing up over that first limb. I sensed that he was too afraid of failure to give it a try.
Go for it, I wanted to tell him. Go up after the girl who climbs trees. Go for the risk taker, the limb swinger, the one looking for a special vantage point from which to view the world. The girl with a laugh like Christmas bells on a sleigh. You can’t go wrong with a girl like that. . . . That’s the girl you can’t let get away.
Excerpt from “A Honeymoon a Bride Won’t Forget”
Now that it’s June and officially the month of weddings, I offer as a community service some valuable counsel to any young man out there who may be contemplating the big step.
This advice may seem simplistic and even obvious, but ignore it at your peril.
Do not under any circumstance plan your surprise honeymoon around a trip to Fayetteville, N.C., “the Putt-Putt Capital of the World.”
That is what I did 33 summers ago at the unworldly age of 19, and I have yet to live it down.
I can tell you now that if you honeymoon there, whatever you do that’s romantically imaginative for the rest of your life, your wife will never let you live down Fayetteville.
You can be floating down a canal in Amsterdam 20 years later, singing “Isn’t It Romantic?” in your best Sunday baritone, and she will interrupt you to observe, “Well, we’ve certainly come a long way from Fayetteville.”
Or you can be ensconced on your anniversary in palatial quarters at the ultra-expensive Grove Park Inn in Asheville, perusing a menu featuring squab and spotted grouse, only to hear the light of your life point out that this part of North Carolina is sure a step up from Fayetteville.
Excerpt from “It’s All Gravy” (by Barb)
Like most families, we Fitzgeralds love Thanksgiving leftovers, and that’s the trouble with a Thanksgiving dinner away from home. There’s nothing to eat at 9 o’clock on Thanksgiving night when you’re back in your room, craving a turkey sandwich with a little dressing and a touch of cranberry on the side. To solve that problem, I decided that for the 1993 Thanksgiving, I would take along several sandwich bags in my purse and save for later whatever portion of dinner could be spared. The problem was, this was a buffet dinner, and take-out doggie bags were not encouraged.
I won’t go into the take-out misdemeanors of others in the family, but just let me say that at the end of the meal, after I had already appropriated several slices of turkey for late-night feasting, my eye fell upon the gravy boat conveniently located on my side of the table. I promptly opened wide a big plastic bag in my purse and poured what was left of the gravy directly therein.
I glanced up to see the horrified reaction of my sister-in-law Frances, who had been informed of the turkey-takeout plans but was understandably confused to see me pouring gravy into my nice leather handbag. And if you think she was confused, you should have seen the look on the face of the governor!
Excerpt from “O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”
Last Saturday night, finally, the extent of Barb’s mysterious deception was revealed. I had been out on a hot golf course all day, coming home exhausted at dusk. When I drove up, the house was dark, but the living room was full of burning candles. The smell of incense was in the air, and exotic Eastern music wafted through the house.
I called to Barb, and down the steps she came with every head scarf she owned pinned to a pair of purple tights, sheerness flying in all directions as her hips swayed left and right. The batting veil was provocatively arranged across her face, and things were jingling and jangling all over her body and—GOOD GRIEF—she was belly dancing!
If she hadn’t given away the couch the previous week, I would have sunk onto it. As it was, I made it into a straight-back chair and watched in fascination. She was pretty darned good, too. At one point she executed a very interesting maneuver for a 60-year-old woman. I said, “What do you call that?”
“The snake,” she replied.
“We remembered some of the stories but having them all compiled was the perfect way to to bring us to laughter and tears, sometimes in the same story, as we traveled. … Seriously, I had to stop reading many times to compose myself to be heard through all of the emotions they brought up. We have given the book to some fellow baby boomers and always feel we are giving happiness to our friends. Thanks for spreading the joy!”
Judi and Claude Foster, North Chesterfield, VA
“This book is based on true stories of their lives and will keep you laughing the entire time. #check it out #hoots a million.”
Diana Suchla, Glen Allen, VA
“Go forth and purchase. This is a great compilation of columns and stories by Randy and Barbara Fitzgerald that will make you laugh.”
Katie Pomroy, Midlothian, VA
“This book is real-life experiences that are truly funny. . . . Two very talented individuals. Really great book.”
Ernestine Scheerhorn, Caledonia, MI
“Loved every page.”
Dave Morris, Hampton, VA
“Lots of laughing out loud and serious reflection. I am so glad you took time to write this book and put the stories out there forever.”
Bob Green, Fort Collins, CO
“Wonderful book. Love the authors!”
Wanda Gilbert, Charlotte, NC
“The book is FANTASTIC!”
Margaret Pace, Richmond, VA
“Get this book. Kept me laughing from beginning to end.”
Linda Evans, Richmond, VA
“I started reading the book and was up until 11:30 reading. I got a lot of laughs from it!”
Hattie Palmer, Winchester, VA
“What a joyful read, though tears did come at some points. We will treasure this little book forever.”
BJ Blincoe, Charlottesville, VA
“Thank you for writing these wonderful stories down.”
Brenda McGlone, Arkadelphia, AK
“ . . . wonderful book! It is a great read. We’re really enjoying it.”
George Brown, Chesterfield, VA
“Loved the book!”
Mary Lou Sommerdahl, Bon Air, VA
“What a fabulous book! Am still reading it –and will most likely reread some of these adventures!
Lynn Edwards, Williamsburg, VA
“It’s the perfect read for those days where you are so tired that when you hit the bed you know you can only muster a few pages before crashing. Unfortunately, I laughed so hard that I couldn’t go to sleep!!!”
Cackie McCarty, Richmond, VA
SIGNINGS & APPEARANCES
- Mon., Jan. 28, 12:30, Shepherd’s Center, St. Luke Luthern Church, 7757 Chippenham Road, Richmond, Va.
- Wed., Jan. 17, 12:30, Shepherd’s Center, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Richmond, Va. (SNOW, resched. for Sept. 19)
- Thurs., Feb. 1, 12:30, Shepherd’s Center, First Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Va.
- Wed., Feb. 21, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Richmond
- Fri., May 18, 6-8 p.m., Barnes & Noble, Barracks Road Shopping Center, 1035 Emmet St Suite A, Charlottesville, Va., 434-984-0461
- Wed., Aug. 15, 11 a.m., Ginter Park Woman’s Club, 3017 Seminary Ave., Richmond, Va.
- Wed., Aug. 29, 9-10 a.m., Boomtown Radio, 94.1 & 92.9 FM, Richmond, Va.
- Tues., Sept. 11, Noon, The Comma Club, River Road Baptist Church, 8000 River Rd., Richmond, Va.
- Wed., Sept. 19, 12:30, Shepherd’s Center, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Richmond, Va.
- Tues., Oct. 10, 12:30-2:30, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.
- Fri., Oct. 27, Trailblazers meeting, Richmond, Va.
- Sat., Nov. 4, 1-3 , Book People, Richmond, Va.
- Thurs., Nov. 9, Westminster Canterbury, Richmond, Va.
- Thurs., Nov. 30, 11-1, Bizarre Bazaar, Ray McAllister Books booth, Richmond, Va.
- Fri., Dec. 1, 11-1, Bizarre Bazaar, Ray McAllister Books booth, Richmond, Va.
- Wed., Dec. 6, 5-7 p.m., Barnes & Noble, Libbie Place, 5501 W. Broad Street, Richmond, Va.
- Sat., Dec. 9, 1-4 p.m., Barnes & Noble, Short Pump Town Center, 11640 W. Broad Street, Richmond, Va.
- Sat., Dec. 16, 1-4 p.m., Barnes & Noble, Chesterfield Towne Center, 11500 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond, Va.
Publication Launch, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va., Oct. 10, 2017
Signing, Book People, Richmond, Va., Nov. 4, 2017
Boomtown Richmond radio, 92.9/94.1 FM, with host Jeff McKee, Richmond, Va., Aug. 29, 2018