August 21st, 2003


Girl Books

I learned early on in my metro-riding career that I was incapable of reading while riding. Then I realized it was only books that I couldn't read, but newspapers and other short things were fine. I figured it was the need to focus so long on a book that made me sick while a newspaper was in shorter spurts and I could look around between articles and whatnot. Then came my crossword puzzle phase, and after a few bursts of enraged frustration at having to sit and waste 20 minutes of my life because the bus just pulled away god dammit fucking public transportation, my brother lent me his Game Boy. I tried the whole book thing again after realizing that I had way too many unread books in my apartment. I started with Fast Food Nation, then A Working Stiff's Manifesto. Upon finishing Barrel Fever last week, I was at a loss for books, mostly because the yet unread If Chins Could Kill won't fit in my purse.

I normally have decent book luck at Costco, but on Tuesday night, the pickings were slim. There were plenty of female-focused novels that had titles about being a fat bride or something about God and ugly or other variations on the Bridget Jones' Diary ripoff theme. Something about The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club spoke to me. It seemed different. Somehow more intelligent. Somehow less...less. The back cover touted it as a collection of essays by a humour columnist. Barrel Fever was a collection of essays by a humour columnist. It was funny. This will be good too. Not the normal Female Fiction, but good, funny stuff.

I started my new book this morning with great confidence. The very first thing I noticed was the font. It wasn't a Times New Roman kind of font; it was more of a Comic Sans. The table of contents revealed that each essay was approximately five pages long. Curious.

The first "essay", which turned out more like an anecdote; a 5 page-long LJ entry, if you will, titled Wrap & Roll and the Disappearance of Nikki's Keys started on page 3. By midway through page 5, all of my hopes were crushed, all of my theories about the potential of this book were debunked. Allow me to provide an excerpt:

"Okay, I'm ready," she said as she came down the stairs, wearing the T-shirt with my caricature and name on the back that was made up during my days at Arizona State University's State Press Magazine.

"I thought you said you were going to put on something 'yucky'," I said immediately. "That's my shirt. It's got my face on it. And my name. That's yucky? To you that's yucky?"

"I didn't mean
yucky yucky, just, you know, yucky," she answered.

"So I'm not yucky yucky, I'm just plain yucky?" I snapped. "What would make it yucky yucky? Maybe if I had signed it or given it to you as a gift?"

And it just fucking goes on and on like this. On and on and on and on. The rest of Wrap & Roll is about how Nikki lost her keys and they found a tampon applicator when they were digging through the trash looking for them. The author makes many repetitive allusions to being a big drinker in the way a high school junior talks about how they know how to handle their liquor. She strikes me as the kind of person to tell you that she's weird and that everyone thinks she's weird or that she does things like climb the fence of her friend's apartment complex because she's weird like that.

This book is the reason why I only hang out with either guys or other girls who hate hanging out with girls. Reading the author's drummed up offense and Nikki's remorseless backpedaling made me want to slap the nearest twentysomething girl on the train.

I thought I had learned my lesson after my copy of The Cigarette Girl nearly got tossed into the Pacific. I thought it was going to be a fun, light, fluffy beach read for my Hawaiian vacation. I got through the first chapter only to find out that it was a Babysitters Club book with 'fuck' in it here and there to show how grown up it is.

I am a girl. I am interested in girly things. I like to do my nails and am a regular Leonardo when it comes to eye makeup. But the evidence is conclusive: books with the word "Girl" in the title are unreadable. The only problem I'm facing now is whether or not to give this book straight to Goodwill, or to continue reading it for all of the entry-inspiration material that is bound to be in there.
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