Tuesday, October 16, 2007 posted by Jen at 10/16/2007 05:04:00 PM
We just got back from a lovely pre-baby, early-anniversary sojourn on the beach, where the sand was pink, the water was turquoise and the breezes were balmy.
I drank a lot of pink lemonade while looking covetously upon the rum drinks of others, floated in the ocean (swimming’s too much effort at this point), napped in the sunshine, did a little shopping, and generally had a wonderful, relaxing time.
We also made significant progress on the baby-name front, which means that, eight weeks from now, we won’t be heading home from the hospital with a kid named Backup.
The vacation was marred by only one thing: the book situation.
In preparation for our getaway, I packed Richard Russo’s STRAIGHT MAN, A.J. Jacbos’ THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBICALLY, which sounded like fun, and Valerie Martin’s TRESPASS, which did not sound like fun at all, but did sound interesting.
Then, in a moment of early morning pre-flight brain fog, I left all my books at home, and was thrown on the mercy of the airport bookstore, where I ended up with books that were interesting for reasons other than those their authors may have intended.
First up: Eric Clapton’s memoir, which was astonishing for the manner in which it made decades worth of sex, drugs and debauchery sound downright banal.
Some of it was the repetition.
The first time you read about someone writhing and screaming through the cramps and screaming hallucinations of heroin withdrawal, it’s enthralling. By the sixth or seventh time, it’s like, “Eric! Again with the withdrawal!”
Then there were the less-than-revealing descriptions. When he meets the love of his life, muse of his best work Pattie Boyd, he writes, “I remember thinking that her beauty was also internal. It wasn’t just the way she looked, although she was definitely the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. It was deeper. It came from within her, too.”
However, I was struck by the passage where a young Clapton journeys to a music festival and wakes up beside an abandoned campfire in the middle of nowhere. “I had shit myself, I had pissed myself, I had puked all over myself, and I had no idea where I was.”
I remember reading A MILLION LITTLE PIECES and stopping at the part where James Frey describes boarding an airplane covered in similar effluvia and thinking, Ain’t no way. In this day and age, when you can get booted off a flight for a too-short skirt or an overlarge carry-on, there’s no way you can poop yourself, then fly the friendly skies.
Evidently, though, in England in the 1960’s, you could poop yourself, then get a friendly conductor to give you an IOU for your train ticket back to Mum and Dad (or grandma and grandpa, in Clapton’s case).
Interesting...but if you're in the market for a good behind-the-scenes, warts and all, sex, drugs and rock 'n roll laced musician's memoir, I'd heartily recommend I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD, an oral history of the late, great Warren Zevon that came out earlier this year.
After Clapton, I moved on to Kevin Smith’s MY BORING-ASS LIFE, a compendium of his last few years’ worth of blog posts, which tend toward the exactingly detailed and frequently scatological. There’s nary a bowel movement or boink session that goes unchronicled. Every fast-food meal and DVD purchase, every cold caught, fought and conquered, each late night spent watching TiVo’d Simpsons and playing online poker…it’s in there.
Which is fine by me. I’ve got a high tolerance for minutia, especially when it’s funny and /or interspersed with details about people and places I recognize. (During the course of the book, Smith shoots Catch and Release with Susannah Grant, who wrote the screenplay for In Her Shoes, and hangs out in many of the same places I visit when I visit with the L.A. branch of my family).
First I started counting bowel movements. Then I counted intimate encounters Smith had with his wife. Then I counted intimate encounters Smith had with himself, aided by naked pictures of his wife.
Then I decided to really horrify myself and count the number of times the book said Jen, his wife (who, as luck would have it, shares not only my name but also my former profession) “went for a manicure,” “went for a mani-pedi,” “went for a facial,” “went to yoga” or got was dropped off by her husband at Asia de Cuba for lunch.
About fifty pages in, after many manicures, mani-pedis, yoga classes, plus a birthday gift of a specially-commissioned tiara from Tiffany, I poked my husband over on the next lounge chair and announced that I was going about my life all wrong, and that, henceforth, there would be less work and more grooming.
“You’d be bored out of your mind,” he said, without looking up from his Economist. “You wouldn’t last two days.”
“No, I wouldn’t! Yes, I would! Why do you say that?”
He pointed at the assembled sunbathers. “Do you see anyone else on the beach with a laptop?”
“Well, I’m working on something!”
Eventually, after much grumbling, I worked through my Jenvy and acknowledged that I probably would get bored on a steady schedule of yoga and nail care.