“You should put a leash on a tiger and walk down the sidewalk naked except for your luxury handbag.”
. . . is the kind of thing I say when there’s a microphone in front of my face.
It made sense in context, I swear. See, Stephen Usery of WYPL — a Tennessee-based station that runs a radio show / podcast called Book Talk — was talking with me about Penguins with People Problems, and the conversation just sort of wandered. We ended up talking about books; writing advice; pervy co-workers; overpriced biscuits; and all sorts of other stuff. Then he brought up the subject of fashion ads (which you know I love), and that’s when I started describing an imaginary fashion ad involving tigers and handbags and nudity. It made sense at the time, it really did.
You can listen to the whole thing if you like. Meanwhile, here are two other little snippets:
Stephen said he noticed that, “If there’s kind of a theme that ties all your humor together, it’s that we are ridiculous things.” And in my head I was like, well, shazam — that’s true — I never thought of it that way before. So I said:
“We are totally ridiculous things. We’re all just idiots… But if you can find your own idiocy and sit there with it peacefully and co-exist with it, it’s really very funny.”
Then a little later, he pointed out that there’s also “a slight strain of melancholy” in my humor writing, which — DAMN, STEPHEN. He’s right. So to that, I responded:
“Just like you have to be able to sit with your idiocy and be comfortable with it, you have to be able to sit with your mistakes or sit with your losses or whatever hole you’ve got in yourself and just know that it’s there and sort of . . . be with it. But I also feel like if you can possibly laugh at whatever you can laugh at, and roll with what you can roll with, you can save up your emotional energy for the really big stuff that matters.”
And that’s the reason for silly birds who say bad words. Because we’re all dummies, and laughter is good for you. Deep thoughts.
Anyway, there’s about a half hour of that kind of chit-chat on the podcast, and it’s worth a listen if for no other reason than to experience Stephen Usery’s radio voice. (I’m thinking about having him record a voicemail greeting on my phone: “Hello. You’ve reached Darth Vader’s brother, Garth Vader, the famous intergalactic jazz musician. I’m off recording some smooth tracks right now, but if you’d like to send me an email or a text like a normal person, I’d be glad to respond.”)
(* if you can tolerate some giggling and the times when you can’t hear talking because I’m flapping my hands around in some sort of gesture that I forget radio listeners can’t see, and also the time I say “the American Cancer Society in Nashville” instead of Atlanta)
Now get out there and walk your tiger.