Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Am Tina Fey (Or Not)

It started when I bought myself a present for Mother’s Day. It was a book. I didn’t give it to myself. I gave it to my wife.

Word of advice: Don’t buy your wife something for Mother’s Day that you’re going to like more than she will. She’s smarter than you. She’ll know.

I wanted to read the book "Bossypants" by Tina Fey. So, I gave it to my wife for Mother’s Day. When she opened it, she did a passable job of looking excited. (She wasn’t.) A few days later she was reading the book in bed when something struck her as funny, and she read me a passage. It was then that she called me on it. She said, “You know, when I unwrapped this I thought, ‘Oh look, he bought something he wanted for himself and gave it to me.'” So, even though she ended up enjoying the book, the message was sent: you lucked out this time, but don’t pull that crap again, doofus boy!

So, this year my Mother’s Day shopping will be more difficult than it’s ever been before. I have to find her something that she will love, and that I will not like at all. So far, the only things I can think of that she loves and I hate are tomatoes and green peppers. I don’t think that’s going to cut it. I’m going to have to try a little harder.

I bring this up because when my wife finished "Bossypants," she said, “You know, she writes a lot like you do,” meaning my writing style and Tina Fey’s writing style are similar. I took this as a big compliment, as Ms. Fey-- Miss Fey-- Mz. Fey-- Mrs. Fey-- Tina (may I call you Tina?) is a highly trained professional comedy writer. After my wife finished the book, passed it to me, and I finally was able to read the book that I bought for myself but gave to my wife for Mother’s Day, I was flattered by my wife’s high regard for my writing, because Tina’s book was very, very funny. (Of course, my wife is delusional.) (After all, she did marry me.) When pressed to find the similarities in our writing, I guess I would say that Tina and I both try to be funny, use a lot of self-deprecation, and don’t take ourselves too seriously. (Except for this moment right here where I am semi-seriously comparing myself to Tina Fey.)

Note the similarities? It's like we're twins!
No, I am really NOT saying that I am anywhere nearly as comically gifted as Tina Fey. She has, after all, literally spent her entire adult life studying, practicing, and performing the art of “funny” as a writer, actor, and producer. I, on the other hand, have spent my adult life driving truck and watching reruns of Friends. (I especially like the episode where Jack and Chrissy have a misunderstanding and Mr. Roper threatens to kick them out of the apartment.)

Anyway, all of this got me thinking that maybe I should write a book like Tina Fey’s. (Except instead of about Tina Fey, my book would be about myself.) I was pretty excited about this idea, until I asked my wife a question: “Do you think anyone would read Tina Fey’s book if she wasn’t famous?” Without even a millisecond of hesitation my wife said, “No.” Thud. That knocked the wind right out of my sails. But, it was true. Hey, Tina’s book is funny whether you know who she is or not, but the truth is without the platform of her celebrity it wouldn’t have found the audience that it did, and it may even have been a struggle to get it published.

So, if I want to write a book and get it published, it would help tremendously if I were a celebrity. How to go about that? One of the quickest ways to become famous these days is “reality” television. The problem is I can’t sing, dance, juggle, cook, or design clothes. I know there are other “reality” shows for people with no discernable talent, but my name isn’t “Kardashian” or “Hilton” or “Trebek.” And, I don’t think I should hold my breath waiting for a casting call from something called “The Real House-Husbands of Utah County.”

If fame is out of the question, where does that leave me? How can I differentiate myself from the masses and find a point of interest that people might find entertaining? How am I different from everyone else? Actually, that’s pretty easy: My sex life. (Or lack thereof.) Yes, I was an actual 40 year old virgin! That puts me more than a couple of standard deviations away from the norm. I’m a definite outlier on the bell curve of life.

I don’t think there are a whole lot of actual 40 year old virgins who have written about their experiences, their lack of experiences, their bumbles, stumbles, struggles, and eventual triumphs. (I did, after all, eventually get married and have sex when I was 40.) (Forty years, six months, and ten days old, not that anyone was counting.)

So, for the regular readers of this blog (all six of you), in the coming weeks, along with my usual thoughts about being a dad, or finding humor in the mundane things of life, I will also regale you with stories from my singular days of singleness, with the eventual goal of collecting these things together for a book.

So I can be just like Tina Fey.

(Of course, none of this helps me figure out what to get my wife for Mother’s Day.)

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