If you read the blog on Wednesday, you already know that we here at Persistiny love Tina Fey. You will also know that my favorite line from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is, “Last one to the bunker is the mother of whores!” That doesn’t have anything to do with the book Bossypants, I just wanted to keep to my habit of saying that sentence at least once a day.
Should you read Bossypants? Absolutely. Will it improve your life if you do? Probably not.
I can’t name a single book guaranteed to improve your life. Many people have named many books they believed would improve my life. I never read these books because my life isn’t similar to their lives, so the book that greatly enriched their life is unlikely to have the same effect on mine. What I will do here is talk about all the little bits and pieces I really liked. Then you can decide if you want to read it because you are an adult and that is one of the many fun things adults get to do.
I loved what Fey’s friend said about her father, “Your father doesn’t fucking play games. You would never come home with a shamrock tattoo in that house.”(pg. 55) I read that and thought, “That’s the type of parent I want to be.” I’m not even close but I would really like it. There’s so much in Bossypants that made me think, “That’s the type of person I want to be.”
Her rules of improvisation, the idea that one should make a habit of respecting “what your partner has created” and then having the nerve to add to it with an idea of your own, should be required reading for people getting ready to get married. Also, please take Fey’s advice and be the person who makes statements more often than they ask questions. Serial question-askers make me crazy. Listen, I honestly believe that there isn’t such a thing as a stupid question but if you have 12 questions regarding George Washington Carver you want answered, you are going to have to ask someone more patient than me. If you do ask me, it’s likely I will tell you to either go ask Google or my favorite, “Stop making me do your thinking for you.”
“Aging Naturally Without Looking Like Time-Lapse Photography of a Rotting Sparrow” is my all-time favorite beauty tip headline. Again, I have not managed this trick of life, but I have managed to not care very much about rules of beauty. I was raised in the 70s by a self-confident mother who thought spending a lot of time getting ready to leave the house cut into precious reading time, so it was fine to just make sure you and your clothes were clean and the rest would probably fall into place on its own. Turns out, she was right. And you can only shave to just above your knee.
My favorite line in the entire book is, “My friend is here!” It describes what Fey felt when Amy Poehler arrived at SNL, letting everyone know, “Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute.”
I know that feeling since I have never once arrived anywhere and thought, “Time to be cute.” Mostly because I’ve never been able to pull off cute. Polite, absolutely. Cute? Once I open my mouth the word cute never crosses anyone’s mind. And I imagine the same goes for Fey, as well as Poehler. It’s not good or bad, just for some people, it simply is. And similar to Fey’s feeling when Poehler joined the cast, it is lovely to realize you aren’t alone.
The best part about rereading this book almost 6 years later is that until I got to the chapter about Fey portraying Gov. Palin, I had completely forgotten that she had played McCain’s mistake. In case you have forgotten, feel free to go watch a few youtube videos. I’ll wait. The best part about some of the crazy shit Fey says when she plays Palin is that it is taken verbatim from crazy shit Palin actually said on the campaign trail.
I would like to once again discuss Fey’s confidence. In particular, the story of when a co-worker at SNL called her a terrible slur and her response was, “No. You don’t get to call me that. My parents love me.” That is the perfect response to when people attempt to tear you down.
And the best thing about the above response is, even if your parents royally screwed up and didn’t manage to make you feel loved, you can still just memorize that response and use it as needed. 9 times out of 10 bullies will back down because even adults don’t want someone’s pissed off mom showing up to avenge their wronged little darling. My older son tells me about asshats he’s worked with and the fact I haven’t confronted any of these people is because I’m certain my son would (rightly) disown me.
Finally, The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter. I admit, I cried as I read it. I have sons but the feeling behind the prayer pertains to both genders. “My mother did this for me once,” Fey thinks as she’s lying on the floor with her own daughter at some ungodly hour, capturing the love and gratitude for their own mother that sometimes washes over a new parent as they become a parent in their own right.
Well done, Tina Fey. Well done, indeed.
A Mother’s Prayer for its Daughter
By Tina Fey
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.
“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.