I have very little time to read. Read books that is. I can find all the time in the world to read bits of nothing here and there on the internet. For the most part I find that Jeff Goldblum’s character in The Big Chill had it pretty right on when he said that the length of a magazine article should not exceed the time it takes the average American to take a crap, or the time it takes an American to take the average crap…definitely a distinction worth pondering on the can some day if you happen to not have a People Magazine handy. Most of the things I scan on the internet follow that guidline, though as internet obsessed as I am, I can honestly say that I stop short of taking a laptop in the bathroom to entertain myself. Actually, I don’t get why people take reading material in there. If you aren’t ready to go, wait. If you are, is the toilet really where you want to do your reading? Why not do your business, grab a beverage and snack and sit in a chair? No cold air on your bottom, no mirror reflecting something you aren’t interested in seeing, just pure comfort and pleasant reading light.
Sean and I do however make ambitious trips to the bookstore, leaving with our arms laden with books. Oh the promise. Beach reading, massive historical tomes, low budget regional books, children’s books, and whatever else appeals to us (for Sean that means cool cover designs, for me that means tactilely pleasing…is that a word? Tactilely? In a tactile way?). Sean is more consistently aggressive at finding time to read, I tend to waffle and end up leaving the books on the night stand. A recent exception to this was a book that I bought that surprised us both. I am usually pretty predictable, buying either the latest Oprah Book Club type paperback or straight forward pulp fiction with a medical examiner, detective or lawyer protagonist. I also buy paperback, partly because I am cheap and partly because I prefer to be able to fold my book in half and hold it in one hand…my arms get too cold in bed otherwise. Sean met me at the check out on this particular book buying spree.
“What’d’ja get?” He asked looking over at what I was holding, as he twisted his body so that I couldn’t see his selections until he gauged how many I had.
“Oh, just this one book.” I said non-committally, not wanting my lean selection to influence how or what he purchased.
“Spoiled Rotten…what?” He asked trying to read it.
I hadn’t even looked at the title. It was a hardback. Full price: twenty something dollars. Holy shit.
“ Spoiled Rotten America*Outrages of Everyday Life,” I read as he gave me a questioning look.
In that moment I had a choice, I could say that it had been a mistake, put it away and then have Sean ditch all his selections. Or I could declare that it was perfect, that the idea of the book and all that it stood for was exactly what I had been seeking. I went with the totally lame declaration of awesomeness. Sean received said declaration with raised brow, but he let it go because he had some spectacularly awesome selections of his own and the idea of upsetting the Oh my god she is getting a full price hard coverness of it all was more than he could bear. So the book came home with us. $25.95 + tax stayed at Barnes and Noble. Or Borders. I have blocked the memory of paying full price.
The 25+ dollars worth of book sat on the nightstand until one night, after putting the girls to bed I found myself not wanting to go downstairs to get sucked into the internet, and not yet sleepy enough to sleep. What to do, what to do? Hmm, let’s give this a try, I thought as I reached for the $25+ book…better laugh for me damnit. It was ok. It held my attention long enough for me to get past how fucking cold my arms were from both being out to hold the book open, and don’t think I didn’t try to get it to stay open with one, it wouldn’t. I liked his way of being funny. Self-deprecating, catty, blunt. Lots of typical “I am a man, I love breasts. And asses. And breasts. And asses.” I exaggerate, but he does talk about liking to look. A lot. By the end of Chapter 3 I had begun to give up hope that this book would really make me laugh. But oh my holy hell how Chapter 4 delighted me. This guy makes very simple, straight forward commentary that has you nodding your head and laughing. Then he tosses in some reference that makes you think:
a) Am I stupid for not knowing what the significance of the Olduvai Gorge is?
b) Should I be laughing?
c) Is he uncommonly brilliant?
d) Seriously, am I stupid? The second Boer War? That means there was a first?
Jesus I am stupid, let’s skip ahead past this unwieldy reference.
Chapter 4 is titled My Slacks at Saks. I am not kidding when I say that I was curled in the fetal position, crossing my legs to avoid wetting myself, tears streaming down my face as I tried to read and keep my gasping laughter as quiet as possible so as not to awake the girls. And that was nothing compared to what happened to me when I reached page 179 and read his tale of the young, attractive masseur. I have literally not laughed this hard since reading Me Talk Pretty One Day. It embarrassed Sean, not the book, my reaction to the book. I read it on the T each morning. You know the kind of hysterical delight that makes you wish it would never end, that you could be suspended forever in breathless, teary laughter? Big, ugly, snorting, tearful, knee slapping reading. The only thing I didn’t do was elbow the folks next to me as I read passages aloud. For months, just the name Sedaris would send me into mad fits of laughter…believe me when I say that snorting suddenly can be awkward when it happens in an elevator with dignitaries riding to the Israeli consulate.
This new discovery of Spoiled Rotten has made me into an incorrigible “Larry Miller groupie,” as Sean puts it. He has a blog, Larry, not Sean. I have combed it. Trolled it. Lingered over posts.
Can we not all agree that when we find something that works we ought not mess around? Ladies, jeans. Find a good fit, buy an armload, right? Men, beer. Find a good one, buy it religiously. I figure since we no longer have the wealth of stand up on TV and most sitcoms aren’t funny, if I find something that makes me laugh I am going to follow it The Office being an exception, as I laugh hysterically at the previews and then forget the show exists until the next week’s previews begin running. So ya, I checked out his blog, reread the Massage bit. In fact I have shared the bit twice with other people, not sure if they are laughing at the bit or at me. I don’t really care, it’s hilarious. So is Larry Miller. I am hoping against hope that the 40 or so pages I have left hold at least one more of those spastic laughter inducing passages.
My gift to you: buy it cheaper than I did. Take your 8+ dollars you save and buy a nice Alex Delaware or Kay Scarpetta paperback.