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?