Having just completed a relentlessly Jacqueline Susann–esque coast-to-coast book tour to promote Wacky Chicks , my latest blockbusterette, I consider myself more than qualified to comment on the state of the nation-especially the state of the nation’s female psyche.
Wherever I went, I was mobbed by stimulating womenfolk of all ages. I saw the good, the bad and the ugly, and infinite combinations thereof. Herein, the conclusions of my latest Margaret Mead–athon into the hinterlands:
Loads of chicks are out of work.
An astounding number of women attended my book-signings for the sole purpose of handing me their résumés, hondling me for jobs: at Barneys, at The New York Observer , anywhere! Try as I might to be supportive and interested, I couldn’t shake the feeling that these gals were bogarting my spotlight with their tales of redundancy and woe. I tried to meet their oddly timed, aggressive attempts to secure employment with constructive suggestions, but our interaction invariably degenerated into testy badinage. “Well, aren’t you even going to read it?” they would ask with escalating shrillness, as I crumpled a résumé into my pocket and continued signing books. “Buy a book and then we’ll talk,” I’d retort snappily. “About me !”
Lots of rich chicks are really dumb.
At the Chicago Barneys, two well-heeled, extra-tall blond Midwestern trophy slags in their late 30’s-all Birkin bags and cashmere-sidled up to my signing desk and began leafing through my book.
“Hmm. Wacky Chicks ,” said Trophy Wife No. 1 (in a tone designed to communicate critical misgivings about my oeuvre ) to Trophy Wife No. 2. By chance, Trophy No. 2 had flipped open to the page where I illustrate my mother’s wacky worldview by listing a random sampling of her deranged opinions. “Short people are better balanced emotionally than tall people are,” she intoned to No. 1, as they both towered disdainfully over petit moi . Outraged glances were exchanged. “I don’t think so,” hissed No. 2, slamming my book onto the counter and flouncing out with No. 1 in the crook of her arm.
Lots of smart chicks are really dumb.
As I frantically signed books (and harvested résumés), I started to notice a recurring phenomenon: In every crowd, there was invariably a middle-class, thick-ankled schoolteacher type who would stand in the background, like the Ancient Mariner, watching me sign books for hours and then, as the throng was thinning, drift toward me and ask, “Are you the author?” Buoyed and puffed up with the adulation (and résumés), I was unable to suppress a sarcasm-tinged response: “No, I’m just a weirdo who gets his kicks from writing my name in other people’s books.”
West Coast chicks are kinder and more caring.
“Tell us about the wonderful women in your book!” gushed a diamond-encrusted West Coast patroness de l’art .
Enthusiastically, I started to regale the group of couture-clad museum trustees with a collage/montage of wacky-chickery: Pearl, the stripper who lived in a storage locker for three years; Sunny, the mead wench who got stung repeatedly when a swarm of honey-crazed bees flew up her mead-stained dirndl; Brigid, the uptown gal who, when she discovered alcohol at her Swiss finishing school, took a dump next to her bed and then blamed a local chien .
As I read, I sensed something was decidedly wrong: I was not hearing the hearty chuckles which characterized my East Coast readings. A distinctly different sound issued forth from this upmarket crowd. Instead of ripples of amusement, I heard snuffles of teary emotion, followed by the snapping of handbags as Kleenex were extracted. I’m sure by now they have started a Save the Wacky Chicks Rehab Foundation.
Criminal tendencies are ubiquitous.
Everywhere I went, I was besieged by irate females reproaching me for not including them in Wacky Chicks and regaling me with sordid wacky-qualifying anecdotes. “I danced on a bar wearing a full cast on my right leg in front of the local liquor inspector! Wacky enough for ya?!” shrieked one be-anoraked lady in the Pacific Northwest. “I stole my neighbor’s turkey out of her oven on Thanksgiving and hid it,” said a grandmotherly San Francisco broad with a wink. “And when she complained it was missin’, I told her she was drinkin’ too much. Ha! ”
Happy people are stupid people.
“You seem to be enjoying yourself,” said a bookstore manager as I signed books and whooped it up with my book-purchasing fans and résumé-profferers.
“I’m having a blast!” I replied, and then quickly realized from her expression that this was the wrong answer. My unabashed enjoyment of my white-hot marketing blitz was making this lady uncomfortable. If a writer is any good-or so goes the prevailing thinking-then he or she would naturally be possessed of delicate sensibilities that would cringe and shrivel when confronted with the humiliating task of selling . Writers on book tours are not supposed to have fun. Funstering is the sure sign of a superficial ninny, whereas a grumpy, uncharming demeanor is commonly thought to hide genius. It suddenly hit me: This is why everyone thinks Eminem is so brilliant! Dour is the new joie de vivre !
Count me out !
P.S.: If you’re looking for a job at Barneys, please send your résumé to Human Resources, Barneys New York, 575 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017. If you want a copy of Wacky Chicks , buy it at Barnes and Noble ($24) and push me onto the best-seller list. Thanks, girls!