In this fractured, fearful and uncertain climate, one woman is challenging the status quo, speaking truth to power, and asking the questions the system doesn’t want you to ask. That woman is Jessi Klein. Her question: “Seriously, did Richard Gere shove a gerbil up his butt? Like all the way up there? Whatever, I’m just going to believe it’s true.”
Now, I’m not going to pretend the occupancy status of American Treasure Mr. Richard Gere’s backdoor is the central thesis of Klein’s “You’ll Grow Out of It” buuuutttt…it does show up. That’s all I’m saying. “To Kill a Mockingbird” doesn’t provide that kind of experience.
I’m a really sucker for books written by funny ladies, but this is the first time I repeatedly read excerpts of this book to friends, saying “Seriously, did I write a book? Is this me?”
As a child, Klein was a tomboy who never got the memo that she should grow out of it. Instead she became, as she called it, a tom man.
She was one of those perpetually dirty kids who always had rats nests in her hair. Similarly, I was the kid whose mother finally tastefully suggested that maybe I should consider shaving my armpits. This conversation occurred after a basketball game, where I had apparently been shoving my hairy Irish pits into the face of some poor girl from St. Agnes parish (We won that game. I’d like to think my armpits of mass destruction played some small role in this victory).
She was in her late twenties before someone told her grownups ditch their ratty backpacks and invest in purses. Around the same time, her loser boyfriend du jour was saying dickish things like “So you just don’t paint your toenails…ever?” Klein realized she still had some learning to do.
This whole book isn’t about her awkward growing pains. In fact, despite the book’s title, Klein does grow out of it, although maybe she never grows out of the “where am I going in life stage” and, well, who does? The rest of the book covers her relationships, her path into comedy, and her unrelenting commitment to fuck the guy dressed as Dale the Chipmunk at a Disney World wedding.
The main crux of the book focuses on being a woman, that pull between femininity and practicality, and the impossibility of living up to those ideals. In one essay, she talks about going to the Emmys and realizing it wasn’t the life-changing, euphoric experience she assumed it would be. In another essay she divides women into two categories: Poodles (women who exist effortlessly within their femininity and shop at Anthropologie) and Wolves (those who don’t). Poodles laugh a lot; wolves sweat a lot. Poodles lost their virginity in high school; wolves are early to everything and “have to fake a conversation on their cell phones so they look like they know other human beings.” Angelina Jolie is a poodle. Jennifer Aniston is a wolf.
I thought this book was delightful. Some of her essays were silly and unsubstantial (bar classes: a bargain at 5 classes for $180!) but as you get to know her, she’ll reveal more and more. Her stories about her early ambivalence of motherhood, to her infertility struggles, to her eventual pregnancy cut deep, while still managing to be funny. So go pick it up. And wolves! Assemble!