Earl Bronsteen is a financially well-off senior citizen and a straight-laced Yale grad. But in 2010, he turned to a life of “crime,” all because of an innocent enough piece of mail: an invitation to a free lunch seminar at The Cheesecake Factory sponsored by a company promoting reverse mortgages to senior citizens. In his satiric memoir, the author recounts his visits to 50 free lunch seminars.
"The Adventures of a Free Lunch Junkie," chronicles ten months of his life as a freeloader and capitalizes on his most infamous quality: he’s cheap. And to Earl the only thing better than ‘cheap’ is ‘free. As a senior, Bronsteen qualifies for those free-lunch seminars the federal government warns the 50-and-older crowd to avoid. With more than six million in attendance at such events over the past few years, there are sure to be some who benefit from the services. (The author even admits to succumbing twice to the sales pitches.) But his quest is for the perfect free meal, not for information, and In his hegira he’s seen it all, from fancy decorated dining rooms in expensive steakhouses to unadorned counters at buffet chains. The author shares the humor he observes in such events, which are sponsored by famous Wall Street firms, national retirement communities, large insurance organizations and local cemeteries and mausoleums.
“At first it seems difficult to imagine anything funny happening at these seminars,” Bronsteen said, “but each episode is unique in some respect, with something very humorous to write about.”Bronsteen is the perfect man to pull off this caper. He is every bit as sharp as he was before he left the financial world and the years have cultivated his dry, irreverent and self-deprecating sense of humor. While he pokes fun at the shady salesmen pitching annuities that purportedly pay “8-15 %’’, Bronsteen’s book is not an exposé; he simply wants his readers to enjoy a laugh at the absurdity of the gibberish of the fast-talking pitchmen who often have the audience eating out of the palm of one hand while rifling their pockets with the other. He’s become addicted to these free meals and exhibits severe withdrawal symptoms when he has to pick up his own tab.