Friday, January 18, 2008

Public Humiliation 101

I was chatting with Kelly the other day about public humiliation via the written word. No…not my written words – other people’s. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett wrote one of my favorite books of all time—Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.

It involves an Angel named Aziraphale, a Demon named Crowley, the Apocalypse, the misplaced Anti-Christ and the four Horsemen. The end of the world is coming and it’s freaking hilarious. This particular story not only made me laugh out loud in public places, but laugh uncontrollably.

Unfortunately, I don’t possess one of those delicate laughs – you know the kind – the one that always causes the hero in romances to smile in appreciation. Nope, I’ve got a full-on cackle that can be heard from a good half mile away. The kind that makes friends and family cringe. The kind that causes my son’s friends to say, “Dude…I can totally hear your mom from here.”

I also have the added bonus of crying if I’m laughing hard enough. I can’t tell you how many critique group nights have involved me flapping my hands, gasping for breath while laughing hysterically with tears streaming down my face.

This is the kind of laughter this book induced. I was nearing the end while in the reception area of a loan office waiting to refinance our mortgage a few years ago. I tried to be quiet – I really did, but it was just too funny. Especially the footnotes ala Douglas Adams.

I got a lot of dirty looks (most of them from my husband), but more questions about what I was reading. I like to think I sold a few more books for the authors. So Neil and Terry, you’re welcome.

I had the polar opposite experience while reading Elizabeth Berg’s Talk Before Sleep in a doctor’s office. Again, I was near the end and sobbing like a lunatic. I don’t what I expected – I mean, it’s Elizabeth Berg – of course it’s gonna be sad.

So I’m reading, trying to be all discrete while wiping away my tears and blowing my nose and I hear this little girl say:

“Daddy? Why dat yady cryin’?”
He glances up from his magazine and looks at me like I’m a freak and says, “I don’t know honey.”

So the little girl stares at me for a while and walks over and says, “Hey yady, why you cryin’?”

So I shut my book and say, “I’m reading this book and it’s very sad.”

She wrinkled up her nose and said, “Then why you reading it?”

Good question, kid. I said, “Well, my friend read it and really liked and told me I needed to read it, too.”

She stared at me for a minute, put her hands on her hips and said, “Your friend is mean!”

It should be noted that no one else in the waiting room wrote down the title or seemed to have any desire to read this one.

What about you guys? Have any works of fiction embarrassed you in public?

11 comments:

sterlingwriter said...

I love your cackle.
I loved Agnes Nutter, too.
Don't remember public humiliation while reading, but I'm famous for bugging my husband by saying, "Listen to this, listen to this" and reading outloud a great passage.

Kelly Kirch said...

So who's the mean friend?

Nothing like that to report, but my husband laughs really loud and says stuff like, "I can't believe it." or "I never knew that." Which means he wants me to ask. I don't. I've learned over the years. So he will tell me. At which point I pick up my book and read whatever paragraph I happen to be on with as much passion as possible.

Never fails to shut him up especially when I'm in the middle of a love scene. ;)

Smut Girl said...

Bridgit Jones's Diary made me laugh so hard i was sobbing...
Bridgit Jones Edge of Reason (prison scene) made me laugh so hard I fell out of bed. No lie. Fell. Out. Of. Bed.
Hard Eight (Janet Evanovich) made me laugh so hard I fell off my exercise bike.

Brynn Paulin said...

My kids often ask me what I'm laughing so hard about...usually it's my friend's blogs, lol. I haven't had any fiction induced public humiliations though.

I'd like it noted that I am not the mean friend who recommended that book. I'm just the one who let you watch A Walk to Remember, knowing full well how it ended. You smacked me REALLY hard.

Amarinda Jones said...

I don't read in public per se. I have to agree with the Janet Evanovich comment though. Her first 8 books were funny

Smut Girl said...

BridgEt.
Damn.
How did I do that?
Not once. Twice.
Talk about freaking public humiliation...

Sandra Cox said...

Glad there's a cackler in our midst. I snort:)

Margaret Yang said...

The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro. Could. Not. Stop. Laughing!

I was walking through an airport and saw a woman holding the book up to her face while she cracked up. Not a book to read in public....

Brynn Paulin said...

You've been tagged for the meme. Here's the info: http://brynnpaulin.blogspot.com/2008/01/meme-tag.html

Jennifer Armintrout said...

I had the same experience with Good Omens. Unfortunately, I was in religion class, reading it under the desk in highschool when my big cackle happened (it was the bit about the houseplants and how Crowley took care of them that got me to LOL).

The end of "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon made me cry in public, but I'm a much more subdued crier than you are.

Caley Greene said...

Love your laugh!

I have the child like Brynn's - and then she gives me the why-is-that-funny look.

No public humiliations from fiction here.