So, remember when I realised I didn’t have a book on the way to lunch and hurried back to the library to get one? I could have chosen one on an intrepid search for Shakespeare’s first folios or a postmodern tale of poetic deception. Instead, I came away with Is Everyone Hanging Out Wihout Me? by Mindy Kaling.
Who? you ask. Perfectly valid question. Mindy is the actor who plays Kelly Kapoor, the side character on the TV show The Office. Yes, I chose a book by the side character of a TV show, whose full name even I didn’t know till I saw the book, over a postmodern masterpiece. Sue me.
Because I’m so glad I did. I found this book… inspirational. I know, this does say something about me. What also does say something about me is that I kind of cringed and struggled with myself before succumbing to my worst instincts and putting the Shakespeare-folio thingie back on the shelf.
Mindy’s book is about herself and thus technically non-fiction but it has the same narrative voice as such gems as Bergdoff Blondes and Bridget Jones’s Diary (is it a coincidence that they, most beloved of books, both have B in the title, like the Bible, which sadly is less beloved?). If I write a book, I want it to be similar in tone, with a protagonist who is a bit of a kook and not above pop culture but also smart (like me, in case you missed that).
I have accepted (mostly) that I am never going to write a literary masterpiece. I think people close to me came to this assessment before I did because I recall one crushing conversation with very cool friend at university in Hyderabad when she said “you must write a book” and I shyly confessed that I had always had fantasies of accepting a Pulitzer and she snorted and said: “Dear, they don’t have a Pulitzer for chick lit.” Hmph. But she had a point, which is I should stick to where my strengths lie. Which is in being frothy but incisive. I think. Also being a bit of a feminist ranter but I don’t think that would do quite so well in the publishing marketplace. Hmm, actually there’s an idea.
Anyway, apart from being inspirational in terms of my own (currently fantasy) career as a novelist, there were also deep, yes deep, insights into life on par with the aforementioned bible of modern womanhood, BJD. Such as? you ask. Here:
- Marriage is about being pals. I know this does not sound completely new. Marry your best friend is a familiar dictum, right? But this expectation of marrying ones best friend (and no harm in it if you do, I think) is as misguided as the quest for The One. In fact, it is even more insidious because it seems so down-to-earth and non expectationy. The fact is, though, that most of us girls have female best friends who are willing to undertake such feminine activities as endless discussions about feelings, obsessing over nail polish colour and their own butt etc. But most of us end up marrying men, and no matter how much they chat with you before you tie the knot and during the first year or so of wedded bliss, eventually they are going to turn into stoics parked in front of the telly with low attention spans. It is just the nature of the beast. The best you can hope for is long insightful conversations some of the time. So you need to keep your best friends around for the other stuff.
But, and this is
Kelly Mindy’s (yay, I used that cross-out function! one of the big reasons I switched to WordPress. And again! I’m on a roll here) point and not my own spiel, is that you need to be pals with the one you marry. Thus, you need to be comfortable hanging out with this person for extended periods of time (even if that time does not involve long conversations about feelings) and have some common interests. That will tide you through the years.
As a single person, she also exhorts us Smug Marrieds to be a little more smug and not so doom and gloom and “marriage is work” because it is our duty to keep the flag of this sinking ship (mixed metaphors there, I know) flying high so that singletons like her who want to come aboard do not have their fantasies crushed. Towards that worthy cause, I will one of these days write a post.
Okay, now, in the interest of doing some work (aka not getting fired), more of Mindy’s pearls of wisdom will follow tomorrow.