Thursday, February 23, 2023

Getting Serious About Humor: "I'm Wearing Tunics Now" Is Funny And Thought Provoking

I stumbled upon author Wendi Aarons at McSweeney's where an excerpt from her book I'm Wearing Tunics Now was published last fall. I enjoyed the excerpt so much that I sought out the book. (Lesson learned--excerpts work.) I'm Wearing Tunics Now is what might be called a women's memoir, about middle class women's life stages. Aarons is genuinely funny and has quite a bit of experience writing humor. (Lesson learned--experience is good.) I often think of her reference to her primary care physician,, because I, myself, keep Dr. Google on retainer.

She has a terrific chapter on blogging in the '00s, an experience I recognize and the only thing I've read that describes it. Aarons is far more extroverted than I am, however, and has actually met blogging buddies in the flesh and is friends friends with them. But otherwise we both enjoyed that period in a similar way.

While Aarons is funny, I do feel that her material may be a little traditional. She writes about PTO Moms and women of a certain age feeling they're invisible, for instance. Among many other woman subjects. This may be a perceptual thing on my part, because I'm a little older than she is (I could be her mother's really cool younger sister) so I've heard about these subjects before. For women Aarons' age and younger, however, her material is new and relevant to their lives.

While reading I'm Wearing Tunics Now, I kept thinking of my friend, Ellie, my neighbor's mother and thus a generation older than me. She would hear us younger women at book club going on and on and on about our kids and what was going on at the school, because it was the most important freaking thing in the world, and she'd say, "We did all that. I was PTO president. I was a room mother." I would think, You can't possibly know what you're talking about, Ellie. But she did. We were probably boring her to death. Nothing is more important than an experience while we're living it. Then we move on to things like going to vineyards with our adult children and posting George Santos memes on Facebook. Or, in Ellie's case, getting a graduate degree. In, I believe, theology.

I'm Wearing Tunics Now left me thinking about what my own humor writing material will be. Because I really need to be considering whether things like meditation and FrancoAmerican holidays are the endless source of laughs I think they are. I've been mulling over trying my own PTO piece. I was the PTO Science Fair mom, you know. And head room mother at least once. I say "at least," because like childbirth and the first 5- to 10-years of motherhood, school volunteer work ends up being run together, if not actually suppressed.

Wendi Aarons speaks about and teaches humor writing. You can learn more about her at the Freelance Writing Direct podcast Humor Writing and Wearing Tunics with Wendi Aarons.

And, yes, Aarons has a middle grade book out, Ginger Mancino, Kid Comedian, that I hope to get to in the next couple of months.

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