Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Time of My Life By Patrick Swayze And Lisa Niemi

Patrick Swayze never blew my skirt up the way Brad Pitt used to (note the past-tense here), but I always thought he was good-looking and a good actor. So, when I saw that he had a posthumous autobiography out, I paused before deciding to read it, and I’m glad I did. Not glad that I paused, but rather, glad that I read it. It being, The Time of My Life, by Swayze and his wife of 34 years, Lisa Niemi.  How do you do a posthumous autobiography? You write it then die of pancreatic cancer two weeks before it’s published.

There were several things in this book that compelled me to slog through the predictable “we went here, we did that,” theme of life-stories. Click on Read More Below...

First, I’d forgotten that Patrick, or Buddy as he was called until he went to Hollywood, was a Houston boy. Much of his early life, attitude and even vocabulary felt familiar and “right” in a “Screw You, We’re From Texas,” sort of way, as Waylon Jennings sings.

Another thing that interested me was Swayze's relationship with his parents. Why is it that kids tend to hate the parent that makes them rich and famous and love the parent that virtually ignores them? I’ve seen this theme over and over again in biographies of famous people. I guess we all just want unconditional love, which is what Swayze says he got from his father. It was his mother, however, that trained him in dance and pushed him to stardom. He rarely even mentions her and only in a “she made me,” context.  

 An then there was the poverty thing.  I somehow can’t seem to conceive that rich and famous people were ever poor. Patrick tells the story of how after moving to Hollywood, he and his wife were so broke they didn’t have any food in the house or money. He called an acquaintance begging for any type of work and was hired to build a doghouse.  The next day he got the call for the lead role in the TV mini-series, North and South, and he immediately went out and bought a Lamborghini!
One always wonders how truthful autobiographies are. But then who really wants to end their life revealing their worst faults? But Swayze really glosses over his alcoholism. We get only a peek at what was probably a huge influence on his life and career.  Sadly, he typically blames his mother and his wife for this insidious disease.

One of the most notable things about Swayze's life was that he and his wife, Lisa managed to hold their marriage together for 34 years. The irony he is that he claims throughout the book that “She never loved me as much as I loved her,” yet she is the one who stood by him when he was a total shit – which I suspect was more often than he portrays. Although Lisa contributes chapters to the book, they felt exactly like what they were, someone writing about a dying loved one – kind, superficial, but who can fault her for that?

I also couldn't get over how incredibly insecure Patrick Swayze was. Much of the book was about him never feeling good enough. He alludes to his mother’s pushing him as the root cause, and perhaps it was. Interesting that she gave him his heaven and his hell.

Since I listened to Swayze read his book on my iPod, I loved that he laughed sincerely at certain passages, and I loved that he sounded Texan. Read it? Hmmm. Not sure, but probably not, unless you’re dying to know the details of Swayze’s professional career.

1 comment:

  1. I've discovered your blog from just now reading comments on The Midlife Gals and I'm going to read more!

    I prob'ly won't read the book unless I find it for 1.99 at ThriftTown, but now I'd like to read his wife's book (if she writes one.) It must have been hell for her to know that his 'blame game' persona was permeating the tome.

    Thank you for the review.