“Comedy is best when it’s about humiliation.” ~ Judd Apatow, about Girls, the HBO show he produces
The other day I had a triumphant meeting with an amazing woman about an inspirational website she wants my partner and me to design and build for her. We met in her home-office, which was meticulously decorated with vibrant colors, museum-quality artwork, and a million stunning details. It was like being swaddled inside a rainbow, which enhanced the process and inspired me to come up with some pretty great ideas. It was a return to my former, 20 and early 30-something self, when I worked in New York City and routinely had exciting brainstorming sessions with creative clients, as that was my job.
I was back.
And then I was late.
By the time I got home, it was already seven minutes beyond when I was due to pick up my son and three friends to take them from school to a wrap-up meeting for a club they’ve done all year. Rushing into the house to grab a snack for the boys and to let the dog out for a quick pee, I was assaulted by the most putrid scene I could imagine.
It was what you would’ve seen if they showed the contents of the toilet and the sink in Apatow’s comic gem, Bridesmaids.
It was like the morning after in The Hangover, without the benefit of a tiger.
My bitch had puked, peed, and shat all over the house in the four-hour period that I’d left her alone. As I dropped to my knees and started to scrub, I thought about the Universe, and what I’d done to deserve this bitch slap back to reality.
And then I laughed, because what the hell else could I do?
By the time I picked up the boys, they were just about the last ones there and were not amused — although they did enjoy the doodie-puke story, as after all, what 12-year-old boy doesn’t enjoy a good doodie-puke story? To the other lone mom who was late getting her crew, I gave her more of a straight-up tale of woe. Out of pity, she offered to take my boys so I could hurry home to get the spots I missed. Sadly, all I could think was Score! as I drove home. Thanks to the rock star caliber room wreckage, I had a great story to tell AND had escaped yet another tedious carpool moment.
In my new favorite show, Girls, the main character Hannah (played by the amazing 26-year-old Lena Dunham, who also creates, writes, and directs the show), says to her parents, “I want to be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice of a generation.”
Brilliant, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m ready.
And yet, the Universe keeps laughing her ass off at me. In my early 20s, I came up with the name of my someday magnum opus: Tramps and Dirty Laundry. And I’m still cranking on it. The current working title after shepherding two kids through to the tween years, plus one dog with a weak stomach, is My Life in Excrement.
Actually, I have two finished novels waiting for the right time for their literary debut. I completed the second one and found myself the very next day in a gigantic line at Borders’ “Going Out of Business” sale, buying a hardcover a book written by a Pulitzer Prize winner for $2.99. Had a reality TV film crew been on hand, my face would’ve showed that wah-wah-wah, ah-ha moment when you can clearly see the main character has finally realized that the joke is on her. (Unless you’re a Kardashian. Kardashians never realize the joke is on them, and that’s precisely why the joke is actually on us. But that’s a story for another blog day…)
Last Sunday’s New York Times had a piece about how today’s digital environment demands that authors churn out the hits, publishing $0.99 short stories in between at least two novels a year. The irony of the article appearing in the Mother’s Day edition of the Times was not lost on me. Ha, ha Universe, you got me again!
If I sound bitter, I’m not.
And I do have Girls to thank for it. If you watch the show (and if you don’t, you must), it’s about the various humiliations of four girls in their 20s. They work crappy jobs, have sex with guys who either don’t appreciate them or alternatively overindulge them (either way is equally unsatisfying), worry about money, and turn to their besties to keep them afloat. They have dreams and aspirations and are doing their damndest not to let life’s realities get in the way of their burning desires. It is a hard time of life, but it also has many excellent moments.
As Hannah’s 40-something gynecologist says to her, “You couldn’t pay me to be 24 again.” Hannah replies, “They’re not paying me at all.”
I’ve never worked harder in my life, and I have the dirt (and occasionally, the doodie) under my nails to prove it. And aside from my part-time job, I’m not getting paid for it either.
But like the girls in Girls, I have my family to support me, my friends to help me through, and the ability to spin a tale and find the humor in the humiliation. This is what keeps me young — better than Botox, mightier than Restalyne.
That and the mantra, These are the good old days.