So I know Vine Lines is supposed to be about wine and not about books.
But there’s a connection here, and I hope you’ll bear with me until I make it.
Bottom line, though: "Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)" by Jenny Lawson is, without doubt, the funniest book I’ve ever read.
Anyone who either works in Human Resources or has worked in HR in the past should read this book. Anybody who suffers, as I do, from panic or anxiety disorders should read this book. Anyone who’s married, or who has been married in the past, should read this book.
If you’re directionally challenged, read the book. If you had a somewhat unorthodox upbringing, pick up a copy. If you went through a rebellious stage as you were growing up, for pity’s sake, grab this volume and READ IT!
I’m a huge fan of Dave Barry, the former Miami Herald humour columnist. His books and his takes on everything, from the marvelous to the mundane, were always the most mirth-inducing writings I’d ever had the pleasure of reading.
Lawson’s hysterical, stream-of-consciousness, wrenchingly honest, and oh-so-believably real musings have had me in stitches since the first page, and they haven’t let up. At all.
It’s gotten so bad, my neighbours are starting to look at me oddly. Which I understand, because I’ve done most of my perusing of "Let’s Pretend" on my deck. And I’ve gone off into gales of laughter — sometimes to the point where I shriek so much I can’t breathe, so the combinations of sounds emanating from my deck are verging on other-worldly.
I can hear conversations in nearby yards become murmurs that quite quickly stop altogether, as they wonder what sort of weirdo is doing what sort of freakish thing a few doors down.
And I apologize. But I simply can’t help myself. This stuff is so incredibly funny, I’m powerless to temper my reaction.
Now a brief caveat. Two, in fact. First, a person’s sense of humour, just like a person’s taste in wine, is completely individual. And what one finds funny, another might find ridiculous in a completely non-funny way.
Second, if you’ve a low tolerance for profanity, "Let’s Pretend" is not likely the book for you. While I don’t appreciate conversations that are laden with F-bombs, I’ve been exposed to enough of them that, while it still makes me shake my head in exasperation (because really — there are SO many other words out there to choose from), it doesn’t bother me quite as much as it used to. And for reasons I can’t explain, I find that particular word much more offensive spoken than I do in written form.
But as part of Lawson’s vernacular, it just fits. It’s the way she speaks, it’s the way she thinks, it’s the way she speculates.
My mother shouldn’t read this book. She’s pretty darn liberal-minded, but she’s an elegant lady, and the language would be off-putting for her. I know that. So Mom, don’t bother with this. Honestly. You won’t like it.
And another thing, Mom: You’re well aware that our senses of humour, at least in printed material, don’t always align. Remember how Dad and I used to howl over Calvin and Hobbes when that comic strip was a regular feature in the Brandon Sun? You just didn’t get why we found it funny. And you were frequently perplexed when Grant (my brother) and I used to die laughing when I read him Dave Barry stuff. So I know you won’t like this.
But I think a good chunk of the population will.
That said, I move, finally, to the wine connection. Reading the book stone-cold sober, I still went into hysterics every single time. But reading it while sipping a glass of wine was a different experience. And that’s not because the wine made Lawson any funnier. She doesn’t need any help in the hilarity department.
The wine came into play because of my uncontrollable reaction to what I read. And really, you’d think I would have learned NOT to combine wine with "Let’s Pretend." Because as I discovered, different wines elicit different sensations — when you pass them through your nose!!
That’s right. I laughed so hard — more than once — that the near-unthinkable happened. When I laughed, it was usually with such force that I managed to snort at the same time, and wine rushed up to and through and out my nose. That’s an experience I don’t care to repeat. Ever.
Because while some of the wines hurt less than others, none of them traversing those tender nasal pathways was even remotely pleasant. However, some hurt less than others. But only slightly.
So if you’re going to read "Let’s Pretend This Never Happened — A Mostly True Memoir," and you insist, as I did, on sipping wine while you do so, I have a couple of suggestions.
First, the 2011 Wonderwall Sauvignon Blanc Semillon ($16.06) from Australia is a very pleasant beverage to enjoy while reading. It smells and tastes of tropical fruit, and while it’s a bit crisp, the Semillon softens the often-highly-acidic Sauv Blanc substantially, making it a great compromise for someone like me who’s not always taken with ultra-bright acidity.
And while it’s not so great in the through-the-nose department, it was the least painful of any of the wines that travelled that same route.
Forget about reds. Those tannins were killers.
Another tip: The lower the alcohol content of the wine, the less it hurts when it goes where it’s not supp ... oh. Yes. One other thing.
In addition to the wine/nose episodes, there were some unintentional, uncontrollable spit-takes. And I was reading "Let’s Pretend It Never Happened" on the company iPad.
Understandably, it’s not in the same shape it used to be.
Sorry about that, Curt. (He’s my boss.) We need to talk.
» Diane Nelson is a long-time journalist and former Sun staffer who really likes wine. A lot. Chat with her online at www.vinelines.ca