Publishing success frequently lies in a niche that goes something like this: X Tells You What the Experts Won’t. Vicki Iovine, a clever writer who married a rich recording executive and could have retired to a life of indolence and manicures, hit a succession of books out of the park, all with the title, “The Girlfriend’s Guide to…” etc. I read the pregnancy volume cover-to-cover and skimmed the rest, but they all had the same idea at their root: Screw doctors and nurses, they lie. I will tell you the truth.
There’s something to this. Not all doctors lie, but I do wish more would use plain language, which would help a lot. Say “pain” rather than “discomfort,” for instance. “You will probably” beats “you may experience.” And so on.
Lately I’ve been thinking I should write a girlfriend’s guide to aging, although it would have to be more like The Old Crone’s Guide. I could spend an entire chapter on eyebrows alone. It would be called “When You Look in the Mirror and Andy Rooney Looks Back,” or just “Eyebrows: WTF?!?” Of all the mysterious, horrible, humiliating changes connected to aging, I’ve never read about eyebrows, at least not in women. No one told me about these long eyebrow hairs that appear out of nowhere (I call them “Andys”) and must be banished. No one said I would turn into a schnauzer. I’ve taken to screeching, “Goddamn Andy Rooney eyebrows!” in the mirror as I do battle with tweezers, which prompts Alan to reply, “What the hell are you talking about?”
I should add: For men, this is the only permissible response. That is to say: blindness. The wife of a friend of mine had three babies in five years and idly asked while she was getting dressed one morning, “Do you think we could afford a little work on these?” Indicating her breasts, of course. “Nothing drastic, just a lift.” He said, “Well, I suppose we could figure something out,” and was instantly rewarded with a metaphorical shoe to the head. He didn’t realize the question being asked wasn’t about cosmetic surgery but about their enduring attractiveness, and his scripted answer was, “What are you talking about? They’re perfect the way they are.”
The Old Crone’s Guide to Marital Chit-Chat While Dressing. There’s my title.
So, how’s your week going so far? I’m sitting here knitting my Andys together, scowling out the window. The closed window. The temperature will not reach 70 degrees today. It didn’t reach 70 yesterday. It briefly reached 74 the day before, when the wind changed rather abruptly and imported some air from Arkansas or something. But then it changed back and, well, it’s June and I expect the windows to be open by now, but we’re still walking around in sweatshirts, being grumpy.
Speaking of eyebrows, let’s kick off the bloggage with this short piece, “The Tragedy of Susan Boyle,” by John Wright. (HT: Wolcott.) A taste:
The world which celebrity promises those who embrace its life affirming narrative is a world absent of pain, poverty, boredom, and sadness. It is a fairytale lived in three dimensional splendour, replete with the adulation of millions, more money than you could ever spend, along with untold glamour and excitement. More importantly it offers the only freedom worthy of the name – the freedom to be the person you always dreamed of being, rather than the person you are.
Susan Boyle was one of the anointed few to be allowed entry to this fairytale. This unfashionable, unglamorous, poor woman from an unfashionable, unglamorous, and poor town in Scotland was plucked from obscurity, stuck centre stage, and celebrated by millions of adoring fans around the world. Dubbed the ‘hairy angel’, here was the archetypal ugly duckling with the voice of a swan.
But then something happened, something unscripted and completely out of kilter with the expectations of a world weaned on the promise and the dream of everlasting happiness through fame and fortune. Susan Boyle let the world down. Instead of playing the part of the ‘hairy angel’ with the sonorous voice and thus fulfilling the myth by which we escape the drudgery of our daily lives, to be sure a prime time TV version of the ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ or ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, she committed the crime of pulling back the curtain on the myth to reveal its ugly truth – human despair.
Ah. Sigh. I haven’t really been following this story, but it doesn’t surprise me.
Some comic relief from Gawker: Watch the Fox & Friends Bunch Try to Process the Bruno-Eminem Stunt. This may require more pop-culture awareness than many of you have, so a thumbnail of the story so far: Sacha Baron Cohen stuck his bare butt in Eminem’s face at some MTV event. There was a flying harness involved and two people with hot product to sell in the entertainment marketplace, and that’s really all you need to know, but it’s still funny to watch these three clueless souls try to figure it out. I had a boss once who was gay but only sorta out about it, and even though everyone knew he was gay, there was one staff member who simply wouldn’t believe it, because he had once been married, and so that meant he couldn’t be gay, didn’t it? Didn’t it? The Foxies remind me of him.
Off to pluck something. Also, edit. Wish me luck.