Reader Spotlight: Nicole and Elisa!

The Wilfair world has a funny habit of delivering things in pairs. I'll hear about the same book from two readers in a single week or I'll find two sequins over the course of a day or something else interesting will arrive au deux.

There could be something deep for the world's only hotel heiress-metaphysicist-pool thief to ponder here, but I like to call it a happy coincidence.

So it makes sense, given all this, that the first two double reader spotlights happen to also pair up. Melodee and Ginny -- mom and daughter, yay -- went up last week, and this week we have Elisa and Nicole, longtime friends from the byoo-ti-ful, green-of-gentle-hill, ice cream-famous state of Iowa.

Yay! Let's jump in...


Can you talk a bit about how you met and became friends?

Neither one of us can remember exactly how we met, perhaps junior year of high school? It was definitely in high school, we had the same group of friends. Elisa moved to Iowa City in eighth grade, and I’ve lived here my whole life, but we can’t remember how Elisa joined the group. We used to drive to Cedar Rapids, which was 30 miles north, to go to a Greek restaurant and Barnes and Noble.

Somehow the two of stayed friends once we went to college and we lost touch with everyone else. And we didn’t even go to the same school or lived in the same town. We’ve been friends forever, but haven’t really lived in the same town since high school.  We bonded over Kenneth Cole shoes, croquet, Ricky Martin (the Spanish album, Vuelve), and of course books. In high school, we totally bonded over Grosse Point Blank, which none of our other friends seemed to understand.

The specifics here wow me, down to the Kenneth Cole shoes and very Ricky Martin album you enjoyed. I like details. And you two were clearly meant to be tight if you didn't even attend the same school but still hung out. 

Also, croquet question: What's your rule for when the ball only goes halfway through the wicket? Does the player get another turn or not? We have varying opinions in my crowd.

What's your favorite thing to do together on a long Saturday afternoon? Does one of you always take the same role? I always play the itinerary planner with my pals.

Going to the library is always something we do together, but we really haven’t had a Saturday afternoon to hangout because Elisa has two really cute little kids. It seems like there is never anything going on around Iowa City, so coming up with something fun to do that doesn’t take hours and hours is a bit of a challenge.

We like to talk about books, drink wine and beer, and hangout at my favorite restaurant, Vesta. We are also inventing a drink game for certain episodes of the best kids show ever, The Backyardigans. We travel well together without getting on each other’s nerves. We have been on several trips, one that involved a 20-hour car ride, and one that involved 3 planes and two small children. This fall, we are hoping to go to Austin for a book festival Elisa read about on

We share planning and decision-making. We’re both pretty easy going and always find some fun in whatever we’re doing, even if we are stuck in Corpus Christi without a rental car, in a crappy hotel, and what had be a monsoon.

That's my advice on friendship, marriage, familial twosomes, and any pairing: If you can be bored together you have it made. Because downtime comprises so much of life. 

By the way, I went and read the Vesta menu, because if someone mentions a restaurant to me, I have to go examine every dish and decide what I'd order. I'm more of a savory lady than sweet, but that vanilla bread pudding caught my eye. Have you tried it? Also, the Veranda Shrimp, which had me at "Cajun cream sauce." Let's go to dinner! Then we can watch "The Backyardigans." Is it a plan? 

Elisa, what is Nicole's best trait? And Nicole, the same for Elisa? 

Elisa’s best trait: she’s generous, and forgiving, I feel like I flake out on her a lot.

Nicole’s best trait: she’s patient, and always accepts random text messages about characters and books she hasn’t read yet.

We both said loyal to describe the other person, and we’re always there for each other, no matter what. We didn’t drop each other, even when I was in law school in another state, and are in such different places in our lives.

No sassy comment here. I just love the sweetness. 

Is there one book or movie or song that you always tease the other for being obsessed over? Do you have a mutual favorite song or movie or book or anything? 

We used to watch Sex and the City together.  Elisa had the first season on VHS, and we used to watch when I would come home for the weekend. I do tease Elisa about her quest to find the best angel book, and the fact that she’ll read just about any book and will never abandon a book and rarely will she abandon a book series, even if it’s really, really bad.

Elisa is constantly upset with me for not participating in any social media except Goodreads. But she is an awesome friend and shares important Facebook updates with me about books and other things.  She’s also my go-to source for when new books are coming out.

We have a lot of mutual favorite books and book characters.  Obviously the Wilfair books are a favorite, the Experiment in Terror series is awesome, and we’re both convinced the Darkling from Shadow and Bone can’t be evil.  Right?  He can’t be evil!  We both want to adopt the Merrick brothers and make them sit-down and talk to each other (the Elemental series).  Elisa introduced me to Jessica Darling (Sloppy Firsts), Feeling Sorry for Celia, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Oh yeah. It's nice to have someone advise you on what to read and what looks good, Nicole. 

Seriously, this blog is my main go-to for book, movie, song, and life suggestions nowadays. A fine suggestion from a trusted source cannot be beat. Also, I don't think I've ever given up on a book. Have I? I did want to walk out of a movie once, in high school, but I felt like I might make the people at the concession counter feel badly, if they saw me, so I stuck it out. 

What one word do you use too much? I absolutely overuse "favorite" and "thing." 

We’ve both been “ish-ing” a lot, and have been trying to make “Great Cesar’s ghost!”[1] a thing.   If you could somehow work “Great Cesar’s ghost” into Fairwil, that would be epic/awesome.

I tend to use “awesome” a lot, as well as “epic fail.” Elisa uses “seriously” and other teacher-ly sayings.

I want to use it! Note made. Also, I have an "awesome" problem. It's kind of a California thing, though, right? Whoops, I just used "thing." (It also reminds me of Eddie Izzard's hilarious rant about people overusing "awesome" which, he contends, literally means an event that makes one full of awe, like a rare eclipse. Not, say, a hamburger. I'm paraphrasing, but he has a point.) 

What are your best talents? Big or small? You can name them for each other, if your prefer. 

We’re both good at book suggestions, for the most part.  Elisa always knows when I’ll hate a book, but of course I don’t always listen.  We’re good with clothes, buying and wearing, but mostly buying.  And I have a knack with kids, even though they aren’t my favorite.
Interesting! I bet you're good with clothes. I met Elisa in person and can confirm that she out-styled me by a mile. Truth. 

We often hear about the same five or six qualities that make a friendship strong, but what is an unexpected one? My friend Tracy and I have texting telepathy, where a row of exclamation points can explain an entire anecdote. 

We have same opinions about the important stuff, which is the foundation of our friendship.  But, we live very different lives—Elisa is a teacher, is married, has two kids, and can’t grow anything to save her life.  I’m an environmental lawyer, but not currently practicing, am single, and like outdoors activities. We both have survival plans for the supervolcano (thanks Mike Mullins) and have a great love for literacy.

You definitely need survival plans for the supervolcano. That's just thinking ahead. 

"a great love of literacy" is the seriously nice part I want to end on here. I sense that from both of you. 

Wilfair question: You've both so sweet about dear Monty. Knowing who is he, what would you show him in Iowa, where you ladies reside? Festivals, attractions, weird places? And, as I'm typing this, why can I totally see Monty riding in the backseat of a car with you both, the two of you up front, passing him snacks and pointing out different sights as you roll along? 

This was difficult for us, because it’s Iowa.  It’s not so exciting.  But Monty would have to experience a University of Iowa football game and tailgate, the Field of Dreams, and the Iowa State Fair.  We’d have to go to a football game because that’s what you do in Iowa City in the fall; when the Hawkeyes are home, the town basically shuts down.  The Field of Dreams is for his love of cinema/movies. And there is nothing quite like the Iowa State Fair; so much people watching, a lot to see, and a great opportunity for snarky comments.

I would probably elbow Monty out of the car if I could go to the Iowa State Fair. Want to so much. Could we eat strawberry pie and ride the Tilt-A-Whirl? Ahem. Back to Monty. I know he'd like all of these ideas, and, yes! The "Field of Dreams" field! Of course. That is grand idea. Next time I see him around Wilshire and Fairfax I'll put him on a plane and send him your way. (And, honestly: Thank you for the Monty love. It is -- plug your ears wherever you might be, Eddie Izzard -- truly awesome.)

[1] Please see above reference to The Backyardigans and future drinking game.


Nicole and Elisa, thank you! And thank you for sending this absolutely darling photo which absolutely sparkles with friendship-y vibes. This was Elisa's wedding -- she's on the left, Nicole on the right. Aww. Can we go to Vesta and enjoy vanilla bread pudding and Veranda Shrimp? Advance apologies for being an invite-myself-along-er (which I kind of am).

Truly exquisite, ladies.

Now my photo pick for you both. I can't get Elisa's all-purple outfit out of my head, from when we took our picture on The Wilfair's corner a few weeks back. Learning that Nicole is also good with clothes (please, you guys, come out to LA and help me pick out clothing that isn't plaid or plaid-adjacent), I decided to stick with the purple theme started by Elisa's sartorial style.

That meant visiting the Wilfair/Fairwil neighborhood to take a few snapshots of the blooming jacaranda trees. These beauties are so SoCal and they go a wild purple every June. They like our danker days this time of year, I have to believe (me, too). 

So the purple? And the friendship-blossoming analogies? Yep, these are the perfect Elisa-Nicole pics, in my heart.

I also wanted to post some jacaranda photos, because these are the trees under which Monty and Gomery and Wil and Bo will walk Fossy Finley. I can just picture the Dog from Under Space rolling in the fallen purple blossoms when they begin to blanket the bright green lawns. (And various Overbove and Finley guys later picking said blossoms out of Fossy's fur.)


do dah said...

nicole! i'm pretty sure you're my fya pen pal! this cracks me up.

i, too, overuse "awesome." also "amazing" and "fantastic" and most other hyperbolically positive adjectives, because they're the best. occasionally i remember eddie izzard and feel slightly chagrined, but that's uncomfortable, so i remember "cake or death" instead.

Wilfair Book said...

do dah, if you and Nicole turn out to be FYA pen pals, I will do a cartwheel right here in front of my desk. Honest. I will.

Yes, "amazing" is an issue with me. But it is such an amazing word, though, right?

"Cake or death" has comforted me through many a down hour. Eddie!!!

Nicole said...

do dah, if i'm your fya pen pal (and why would you make that up?), i am so sorry! i owe you so many letters, it's embarrassing. elisa isn't the only one i flake out on!

my family thinks it's hilarious that elisa finds me patient. there was a lot of laughter when my sister read the spotlight.

yes! come to iowa city and we can go to vesta (the bread pudding is awesome--ha!)and road trip to the state fair (i go every year, it's a lot of fun).

do dah said...

nicole, no worries. your job description and location sound preeeeeetty familiar, is all. it would amuse me to try to find a letter and post a fact for you to recognize, though. like a secret message, only not actually secret at all. i'm pretty sure i took too long to respond once and kind of killed the writing rhythm. and we've still ended up talking to each other, so mwahahaha!

patience. isn't one of the best things about friends that they find qualities families don't? i read somewhere that part of what we respond to in other people is the images of ourselves they reflect back to us. that idea is pretty fascinating to me, when it doesn't make me feel unbearably self-centered. i may also spend quite a bit of time on the "if my friend is a mirror, what kind of frame does he/she have?" road because it's an amusing place to wander. i have yet to find a baroque friend, which is unfortunate, because those are some deliciously ornate frames.

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