Brenda Janowitz

Jack with a Twist

(Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school)

For Doug, the man of my dreams.

You were worth the wait.

Legal Disclaimer

This book in no way depicts any actual events or actual people. Yes, the book is about a woman planning her wedding to the man of her dreams, and Brenda Janowitz did, in fact, plan her wedding to the man of her dreams, but this book is totally not about that.

Especially as pertains to the character of Brooke Miller’s mother. Please note that Miriam Miller is in no way related to, similar to, or based on Brenda’s mother, Sherry Janowitz. Sherry Janowitz is a wonderful and perfect human being. She is in no way flawed like the maternal character depicted in this book. And while we’re on the topic, the character of Barry Miller is in no way related to Brenda’s father, Bernard Janowitz. (Although, if you want to know the truth, he isn’t nearly as uppity about it as his wife. And both Barry and Bernard are devilishly handsome, but the similarity ends there.) Further to the point, just because the character of Brooke Miller is an only child, this in no way should be taken to mean that Brenda Janowitz does not love and adore her brother, Sammy Janowitz, sister-in-law, Stephanie Janowitz, and nephew, Noah Janowitz. And while we’re on the topic, the Luxenberg family is not the Solomon family. They’re just not. You’ll see what we’re talking about when you read the book. Which is not at all based on reality.

It’s just fiction, people! Geez. Doncha hate it when people get all lawyerly about stuff?


And they lived happily ever after….

Maybe I should have asked my mother for some clarification on that. Exactly what happens after they ride off into the sunset together? Do they park the white horse at Bloomingdale’s and go register for wedding presents? Do their families argue about whose castle will host the wedding? When the families disagree on something, does someone end up in the moat?

Why didn’t twelve-year-old me think to ask for clarification on that one?


Today should have been the happiest day of my life. Well, not the happiest—the day Jack proposed to me, that was the happiest day of my life—but today should certainly be one of the happiest days of my life. After all, I love shopping, I love that I’m getting married to Jack, and so, therefore, I should love wedding dress shopping. What could be better than combining these two fabulous things, à la the discovery of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? Well, maybe combining shoe shopping with my excitement about getting married would be better, but you get the general point I’m trying to make.

The point is, I should love wedding dress shopping. But, I don’t. So far, it has been a haze of obnoxious and fake salespeople, unwanted commentary on my weight from my mother, and a wave of general dissatisfaction on my part. And that’s just today.

“Are you planning on losing any weight before your wedding?” the salesperson asks me.

“Um, yes?” I say, careful to position my body just so, away from the three-sided mirror, which has the effect of thrusting my cellulite directly into the line of vision of my mother, who is standing outside the dressing room in yet another mother-of-the-bride dress. The salesperson zips me up, and I turn around to face my mom.

“Oh, my God, Brooke,” my best friend, Vanessa, says, “you look so beautiful I think I’m going to cry!” Vanessa is not the type to cry—in the eight years since I’ve known her I can count the times I’ve seen her cry on one hand—so if she says she’s about to cry, this dress must be really good.

“I hate it,” my mother says, “take it off.” And then, to the salesperson, “Do you have anything with capped sleeves? Something to hide the fleshiness on her arms.” She whispers the word fleshiness as if, even though I’m standing but two feet away from her, I cannot actually hear her.

“I can hear you,” I say, reaching for the glass of champagne my mother is holding for me, the one given to me when we first arrived at the store. That was back when wedding dress shopping was all air kisses and warm congratulations. Now that our salesperson has agreed with my mother when she called me fat, I could really use something a bit stronger, but I’ll settle for the bubbly.

“Empty calories,” my mother sings, moving the glass away from me and taking a sip. “I’m just trying to find a dress that would make the most of your figure, BB.” I guess I don’t have to mention here that my fifty-two-year-old mother, a petite size six, with a crown of honey-blond hair, looks better in her dress than I do in mine.

“Marilyn Monroe was a size twelve in her heyday,” I say to no one in particular. “And no one ever called her fat. I’m only a size ten.”

“Marilyn was a bit fleshy, dear,” my mother says, admiring herself in the mirror. If I didn’t have to work and could take tennis lessons three times a week like my mother, maybe I would be a size six, too. Although, if I had that much free time, I like to think that instead of tennis lessons and mah-jongg, I’d fill my time with charity work and more important Angelina Jolie-esque type activities. And shopping.

What? You have to get new outfits for all those big important dinners at the UN, don’t you?

“Your figure is perfect,” Vanessa says. Vanessa has to say this because she’s my best friend. It’s in some sort of friendship handbook or something. Come to think of it, I think it may also be in the Code of the Girl Scouts. I’ll have to look that up sometime. But, either way, she has to say that.

She especially has to say that I look skinny to me because she’s tall and thin and is a dead ringer for Halle Berry and I’m short and not thin and not a dead ringer for anyone. Yes, Vanessa is tall and thin and gorgeous and she is still my best friend. I really think that says a lot about my character, don’t you think?

“Vanessa’s right,” my mom says, now clearly tipsy from downing my entire glass of champagne in two gulps. “All of these dresses are made for skinny, anorexic girls. We Miller girls have curves. Let’s get out of here.”

“Let’s have a bite to eat before we go to our next appointment,” I say to my mother as I take the empty champagne glass from her hand.

“May I ask where you’re going next?” the salesperson asks as my mother and I retreat to our dressing rooms to change back into our own clothing.

“Monique deVouvray,” Vanessa says and I can practically hear, from inside my dressing room, the salesperson’s mouth dropping to the ground. I look up and see Vanessa trying to pretend that she doesn’t notice, as if she goes to the most exclusive dress designer in the world every day, but I can see the edges of her mouth fighting back a tiny smile. Reason number 432 why Vanessa is such a great friend—she hates this mean salesperson as much as I do for asking me if I was planning to lose weight all morning, while my mother, the size six, fit into every dress in the showroom perfectly. (Salesperson: “What a figure! Did you use to dance?” Me: “I took ballet and tap until I was twelve.” Salesperson: “I meant your mother.” My mother: “Well, I do love to cha-cha!”)

“Yes, our appointment at Monique’s,” my mother says with a slight French accent, trying to stand up without teetering over. “We really must go.”

My mother was so excited when we got an appointment with Monique deVouvray, wedding dress designer to the stars, that she bragged about it for three weeks at her weekly mah-jongg game, which was funny since she was mispronouncing Monique’s last name for the first two of them.

“My mother will kill us if we’re late for Monique,” Vanessa says, leading the charge out of the dressing room.

“Your mother knows Monique?” the salesperson asks, doing her best to furrow a Botoxed brow.

“Yes, she does,” Vanessa says, her right arm linked in my left as she guides me quickly to the elevator. “Thanks so much for everything. Bye!”

As we hit the button for the elevator, I can hear my mother whispering to the salesperson that Vanessa’s mom used to model with Monique. My mother dashes into the elevator just as the doors are about to close (I was willing to leave her up there, it was Vanessa who pushed the door-open button), and in moments, we are down at the car.

Vanessa’s dad lent us his car and driver for the day so that we could hop around town to our various appointments. The three of us pile into the backseat of Vanessa’s father’s huge Mercedes (affectionately dubbed the “Nazi-mobile” by my mother) and head uptown.

“We need to get you a bite to eat before stopping at Monique’s,” I say to my mother. “We don’t want you throwing up all over the couture.”

“There are a million little delis up Third Avenue,” Vanessa offers.

“Let’s go to Tasty D instead,” my mom slurs. “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!”

She’s been saying that my whole life.

“Tommy,” I say to the driver, “would you please pull over here?” I run out of the car and hop into Dunkin’ Donuts, returning with a massive cruller, a delicacy that I know my mother cannot refuse.

“Well,” my mother says, “I suppose I could have just one tiny bite.”