All it takes is two pencils taped to your head to transform any office into a deadly cubicle maze, where all who get lost meet a grisly death at the hands of the OFFICE MINOTAUR!!
Toothpaste for Dinner by Drew
220 pages, HOW Books, October 2005
I’m not sure when I started reading Toothpaste for Dinner. Had to have been many years ago, because I feel like I’ve known about it forever. Something about Drew’s weird, off-the-wall sense of humor and strange, somewhat-melted-looking drawings makes me happy, and totally makes me snort-laugh. I even have one of his tee-shirts. Yep. I like him just that much.
Drew is…I really don’t know how to describe his work. They’re comics, but he’s like this jaded sarcastic scientist you want to be best friends with in your office. Except you totally couldn’t, because he wouldn’t be friends with anyone. He’d be in his cubicle scowling at everyone and probably drawing unflattering cartoons of you. He’s like the cool guy that doesn’t know he’s cool. He’s the hipster who would hate being called a hipster. And he’s hilarious.
I’ve had this book around forever (I mean, look at that publication date. 2005? That’s just embarrassing, it’s been sitting around so long) but was saving it for when I needed a really good laugh. This week, I needed a really good laugh. Plus, with the unemployment and all (oh, yeah, my job disappeared this week – thanks, economy!) I have more time to read than I probably should. More time to read, and apply for jobs, and think, “huh, in about a month, I’m going to have NO MONEY IN THE BANK.” So it’s nice to laugh a little when you’re panicking. Right? Right.
This book won. It made me laugh. A lot. There were some comics I’d seen – like I said, I’ve been following his site for a while – but since he’s so prolific and I tend to miss days here and there, there were a lot of comics that were new to me, so the whole thing made me happy. I got to revisit old favorites and got some new content in the bargain.
This book (and Drew’s site) is for you if you have a weird sense of humor, if you like webcomics, if you’re heavily into sarcasm, if you don’t mind a cuss here and there (I don’t, but I know some people are sensitive to such things), and, well…if you’re one of my people. My people tend to really like Toothpaste for Dinner. Because most of us have the same kind of warped sense of humor. I assume that’s why we’re drawn to one another. In good news, this book is now out of print, and you can get it used from a variety of sellers for a penny. A PENNY, YOU GUYS. With shipping, you’ll pay about $4 for this. That is NOTHING. That is daily-coffee money.
And on a side note, Drew also has a site called The Worst Things for Sale, and it’s just what’s promised – he finds ridiculous things daily and pokes fun at them. I’m constantly sending these things to my friends. “WORST THING EVER, THIS IS YOUR BIRTHDAY PRESENT!” I will say. They are not amused. Or, ok, they’re a little amused. They won’t be when I send it to them as their birthday present, I’d guess.
Go read some snarky webcomics, either on Drew’s site, or with this book. They’ll make you happy. And I think we all want to be happy, right? Right.
Here is a good tip I’ve learned: Don’t like anybody who won’t tell you happy birthday on your actual birthday. Someone who likes you, I think, will remember to take the time on the day you were born to say “Hey, happy birthday,” and in so doing, at least be willing to acknowledge that he is happier to have you alive than dead.
Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney
272 pages, Grand Central Publishing, January 2014
Sometimes I feel like everyone else in the world totally understands this dating thing, and I’m the only one who finds it completely baffling. I don’t know how to talk to people and I feel like I have to watch other people at the restaurant for social cues as to how a person on this strange thing called a “date” should act. Oh, the napkin goes ON your lap? Oh, you’re supposed to NOT have cocktail sauce all over your face? I’m like Jane Goodall studying the chimps.
Katie Heaney doesn’t get dating, either, which is a relief. There are, apparently, two of us completely baffled about how this works and what we’re supposed to be doing with our hands at any given time. It’s nice not to feel alone, right? Right.
Heaney’s book tracks her dating life from when she started elementary school to the present, covering crushes and near-misses and tragic romantic mishaps. It’s got a blog feel, and in reading her bio, she’s contributed to a number of blogs, so that’s where that came from. (I was actually alerted to this book by reading an exerpt somewhere online, but don’t bother asking me where, because I don’t ever remember things like that. I visit too many sites in one day. My head’s a mess.)
I started out really enjoying this. The humor was right up my alley; I very much enjoy when people can make fun of themselves in an intelligent way. Heaney’s a good writer, too.
But it got tedious, and quickly. What was funny, and self-deprecating, and kind of adorable, at first, starting being whiny and complainy and repetitive. I’m not saying I’m any better at finding someone to go home with at the end of the night…but I don’t whine about it quite so much. Or quite so publicly. Because there’s a fine line between “funny” and “this emo Facebook status was a terrible idea.”
And worst of all: the title’s not true. She HAS a date before the book’s over. (Sorry. That’s a spoiler, I suppose, but not a big one.) So the title really needs to be Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Boyfriend or else it just doesn’t make any sense.
I’m kind of torn, here. It kept me reading, but as it progressed, it annoyed me. So I don’t really know if I liked it overall, or didn’t. I suppose I can split the difference and just say it was middle of the road.
Here’s my thought. I think a lot of bloggers want to write a book. And bloggers are hot right now, especially humor bloggers. So I think there’s a possibily the powers that be over at the publisher jumped on this one without thinking it over too well, and she didn’t have a solid plan about how she was going to finish it. She had a solid beginning, and a so-so middle, and then the end just went downhill.
She’s not a bad writer, though. I think if she wrote about something else, it’d be readable. As it is, with this one, read until she leaves for college, then you’ve got every last permission of mine to put it aside. Just not worth your time. If you want emo, go read the status updates from your younger friends on Facebook. Same thing, only they’ll be briefer, so better for your attention span, you know?