Who likes Tina Fey?
Pretty much everyone who saw her dead-on Sarah Palin impersonations on “Saturday Night Live.”
Pretty much everyone who watches “30 Rock.”
The publisher that paid her $5 million for a book.
The New Yorker magazine, which ran not one but two excerpts.
And the readers of her book?
I had not planned to be among them. Not that I don’t admire Tina Fey. But considering how much is on her plate — producing, writing and starring in “30 Rock,” motherhood, marriage and the usual batch of mandatory appearances for charities — I didn’t see how she’d have the time to craft a good book.
And I know a thing or two about celebrity memoirs, because I was the ghostwriter for Kelsey Grammer on his piece-of-shit memoir. In 1995, Grammer had a $1.5 million advance, which was a lot of money then. But it wasn’t enough to get him to focus on the book — he spent perhaps a dozen hours with me and didn’t read a word until I turned it in. Later, when he went on Oprah and read the passage “he” had written about his sister’s murder, he read from a chapter I had cobbled together from newspaper clips. Not an experience I recall with fondness.
But in the last few weeks I have seen a great many people — a great many women, to be precise —reading “Bossypants” on subways and buses, and they seem very amused. Like this: They laugh out loud. That’s so rare I broke down and bought the book. [To buy “Bossypants” from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle download, click here.
I read it. Every word. Laughed like crazy. Misted up. And, yes, she wrote it. All by herself. Kudos for that.
“Bossypants” is, kind of, a memoir — how Tina Fey became Tina Fey. But it’s also a book that has a lot to say to teenage girls and young women as they prepare to navigate a working world still ruled by men, many of them unconscious at best.
Tina Fey, at 13: “I was walking home from school and I was wearing a dress. A dude drove by and yelled, ‘Nice tits.’ I screamed after him, ‘Suck my dick.’”
No. She probably didn’t. But as a teaching story, it resonates, doesn’t it?
She has a father. What did Don Fey give her? “The gift of anxiety. The fear of getting in trouble. The knowledge that, while you are loved, you are not above the law.”
Many years later, a Saturday Night Live writer called her the c-word. “To my surprise,” she writes, “I blurted, ‘No. You don’t get to call me that. My parents love me. I’m not some Adult Child of an Alcoholic that’s going to take that shit.”
Give it up for Don Fey, doncha think?
She’s got it out for men who don’t think women are funny: “My hat goes off to them. It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good. I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.”
In an imaginary Internet Q&A, she’s asked why women get all the breaks — like America is one big affirmative action deal for chicks. She plays it out:
Women in this country have been over-celebrated for too long. Just last night there was a story on my local news about a ‘missing girl’ … and I thought, “What is this, the News for Chicks?” Then there was some story about Hillary Clinton flying to some country because she’s secretary of state. Why do we keep talking about these dumdums? We are a society that constantly celebrates no one but women and it must stop!
At the letter’s end she adds, for good measure: “
P.S. You know who does have a funny bone in her body? Your mom every night for a dollar.”
Yes, there are stories about actors and comics you know. Hilarious beauty and fashion tips. A guide to managing talented people. And I could share a lot of one-liners with you, and you’d double over, but that feels wrong — like putting everything good in a film into the preview.
Anyway, I loved the book for something else — inside this memoir with a fat-armed and hairy Tina Fey on the cover is a very serious book by a thoughtful woman, wife, mother. She does her best to hide it. But near the end, she Goes There. And then some, in “The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter,” which, if you’re a parent….well, just read it.
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.
God bless this woman.
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