Authors: Lauren Weedman
A PLUME BOOK
is a comedic actress, author, and playwright. Her first show,
, began as a fifteen-minute performance art piece at Seattle's On the Boards and went on to go off-Broadway in New York City.
, about her work in the LA county jail, was awarded a MacDowell fellowship for playwriting by the Alpert Awards, as well as several “best of the arts” across the nation. She has written and performed ten solo plays:
If Ornaments Had Lips
They Got His Mouth Right
NoÂ .Â .Â . You Shut Up
The People's Republic of Portland
. Her television credits include
The Daily Show
United States of Tara
Curb Your Enthusiasm
. She played Horny Patty on HBO's
, and most recently she played Doris in HBO's series
. Weedman's first book,
A Woman Trapped in a Woman's Body: Tales from a Life of Cringe
, a collection of comedic essays, was named by
as a top ten indie book for 2007. Weedman is the host of the popular Moth storytelling series in Santa Monica, California.
An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
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New York, New York 10014
Copyright Â© 2016 by Lauren Weedman
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Weedman, Lauren.
Title: Miss Fortune : fresh perspectives on having it all from someone who is
not okay / Lauren Weedman.
Description: New York : Plume, 2016.
Identifiers: LCCN 2015040359 | ISBN 9780142180235 (paperback) | ISBN 9781101620564 (ebook)
Subjects: LCSH: Weedman, Lauren. | ActorsâUnited StatesâBiography. |
ComediansâUnited StatesâBiography. | Conduct of lifeâHumor. | BISAC:
HUMOR / Form / Essays. | HUMOR / Topic / Adult. | PERFORMING ARTS /
Television / General.
Classification: LCC PN2287.W45557 A3 2016 | DDC 818/.602âdc23
LC record available at
Penguin is committed to publishing works of quality and integrity. In that spirit, we are proud to offer this book to our readers; however, the story, the experiences, and the words are the author's alone.
This book is dedicated to Leo, who helped me stop spitting into the wind (but only metaphorically, since I know how much he enjoys
ello. Thank you for reading these few sentences of my book. Or maybe you're in a weird period of your life where you've found yourself reading entire books. Or maybe you want to write a book and you needed a “Geez, she did it, I certainly could” jolt of inspiration. Whatever brought you here, I'm incredibly glad for it. One thing you should know is that this book is based on my life. It's true, but I've also exaggerated a bit for the sake of the jokes, in order not to cause any human harm, and to avoid being sued. Just like
That is my principal objection to life, I think: It's too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.
y boyfriend, David, is organizing his sock drawer when I say to him, “You know, it just hit me: If we end up staying together, you will go down in history as the love of my life.” I lean back and position myself on the bedâfan out my skirt and fluff my hairâso that when he turns around and says it back to me, I'll look worthy. But he doesn't follow the script. Instead, he says, “
,” like he just saw a little baby with hearing aids.
We've been together for four years. It shouldn't feel like I just took a gigantic risk and told him that I had a crush on him. We are at the point in the relationship where we are supposed to say either “You are the love of my life too!” or “You are
the love of my life but you
helped me figure out that I don't like bossy women.”
Lately, David's been bizarrely excited about how his senses are starting to fail. He likes to demonstrate this like it's a magic trick. “Do you see this lemon? OkayÂ .Â .Â . I'm bringing it to my noseÂ .Â .Â . and”âsniff, sniffâ“
I smell nothing!
I wonder if he's losing his hearing as well as his sense of smell and maybe didn't hear me properly. “That kind of blows my mind to think that you are the love of my life,” I try, a little louder.
I'm fairly certain he hears me because he stops balling up his socks, and it looks like he's just staring at the wall. All I wanted was for him to simply cup my face in his hands and sob, “You are the love of
life.” I thought it would be a nice midday perk. I almost feel a little cruel. Like I've thrown the “you're the love of my life” ball to the kid with no arms and watched it bounce off his head.
True, I was probably fishing for a little reassurance since that evening we were going to dinner with Jessica, an old friend of David's whom I find completely petrifying. Not only because she's a yoga/healer person for whom David always makes time for long walks when we visit her hometown of Seattle, but because she used to do massage on Hannah, David's wife, before Hannah died of cancer eight years ago.
Thanks to David's habit of confusing the speaker for the volume button on his cell phone and having entire conversations holding his phone to his ear and oblivious to the fact that everyone can hear every word, I was able to get a sense of David and Jessica's relationship without having ever met her. I, along with everyone in line at the Subway sandwich shop, heard her telling David, “I miss her hair, don't you?” For half a second I thought, That's sweet, she's never even seen my hair. Then I realized what they were talking about, and I knew why I'd never be invited on one of their walks.
Jessica is in town for an acupuncture conference, and we are going out for Indian food. I'm not so hungry. It doesn't feel like something I should be going to, but David insists.
We all meet in the parking lot of the restaurant and slowly make our way toward one another, David's and Jessica's arms stretched out in front of them ready to embrace. I encourage David to “run to her!” He laughs, somewhat nervously, which is good, because when Jessica walks up she sees the two of us laughing
together. You see, Jessica, I make him laugh. I'm good for him. Jessica is attractive. She's not what a girlfriend wants to see when she's feeling a little jealous. If she was a real nurturer type, like David says, she would have taken care of my fragile feelings and been a stout, ruddy tree dweller wearing fanny packs full of essential oils, and with thick black hair covering her arms and legs. In reality, Jessica is a tiny blond girl wearing tan parachute pants and a sleeveless David Bowie T-shirt. She's got that healthy shine that could only come from two-hour headstands and a strict yet “thoughtful” diet of deep breathing and sprouted nut butter. All of Hannah and David's friends are so attractive. Why is that? Do attractive people hang out with other attractive people so they don't have to feel bad about never paying for drinks or newspapers?
I'm tempted to reach out and touch her skin to see if it's as soft as it looks, but my fingers are sticky from the gum I took out of my mouth in the car and am still holding until I can find a trash can.
David introduces me to Jessica. She stares at me with big blue eyes, startled. She looks freaked-out. I'm not sure why. Is it because she was close to Hannah and now she's being forced to move on? Forced to let go of Hannah even more? Another step in the grief process would be seeing the person's partner move on. That's got to be hard.
Her stunned gaze is making me uncomfortable. I break the silence: “I need a trash can.” My voice sounds like Godzilla's footsteps.
Jessica reaches out her hand and offers to take my gum. I give it to her. I thought it would be funny. It wasn't. It was like a child handing her gum to an adult.
The naan hasn't even hit the table and Jessica is reaching over and giving David little massage-y squeezes. “Oh, hey,” she says. “Thank you for visiting me in my dream the other night! It
was a really fun place to see you. The only tough part was waking up!”
Did she miss the part where David introduced me as his girlfriend? Am I so far from the type of woman that she imagined David being with that she's making a move on him right in front of me? I'm sure David must be as irritated by her New Age hooker talk asâ
“Wow! That's so cool.” He jumps right in. “I wonder if your dream happened while I was meditating, because I can go to some pretty deep places. Wouldn't that be wild?”
David is the most stressed-out meditator I've ever seen. The very first time I saw him “meditating” I thought he had a migraine and was rocking back and forth to help the nausea pass. If he's in the middle of his daily twenty minutes of “getting right with the universe” and hears me in the kitchen, he'll call out, “Are you making popcorn?” But he keeps his eyes closed and yells in a whisper voice, so he still counts it as meditation. He always seems tenser after meditating. Like meditation is just uninterrupted time to go over whom he's angry with. His eyes pop open when he's done and he'll be right back in the middle of a fight he started in his headâ“Yes, I did tell you that I was selling that bookcase on eBayâI know I did!”
“Go back in,” I always tell him. “I don't think it took.”
But at the mere mention of the word “meditation,” Jessica scoots her chair closer to David and asks him, “How are youÂ .Â .Â . David? I mean, how
David is handsome and charming; that's how he is. I'm glad to see he's enjoying himself. He gives me a quick glance before he launches into his graphic response.
Remember I'm at the table, David. Remember I'm at the table.
“Well, I had a little blood in the stool.”
Oh no, he didn't. Oh my god.
Blood in the stool is like a mating call for yoga people, and Jessica's chakras just swelled up and released an egg. “Oh, David! David! The rectum is a warehouse for unresolved emotionsÂ .Â .Â . like grief.”
I have to break this up.
“You know, he's fine. He got scraped by an angry peanut or somethingâhe's really fine.” Which was true.
His doctor had confirmed that the source of the injury was the bucket of peanut brittle my parents sent him for his birthday that he finished off in two days.
But for some reason David has forgotten this.
Jessica puts a protective arm around David as she explains to me how “David had a scare. It's really scary.” I didn't throw my three-year-old into the deep end to teach him how to swim. I was simply ribbing David a bit for bringing up anal bleeding in a fine dining establishment. That's all.
Leaving the restaurant, Jessica tells David how much she'd love to be able to do some “work” on him. “It would be pretty intense, but if you trust meÂ .Â .Â .”
Back at home, I vow not to say anything negative about the night. The two of them have a connection that cannot be denied. Perhaps it's slipped into a sexual realm. These things happen. Sure, it would be nice if David admitted that Jessica is in love with him, but it's not necessary. Jessica looked at me like she loved me a few times. And her menu. It's what healer folks are trained to do. I'm going to say nothing. Whatever I say is going to make me sound jealous. That's not the person I want to be. It's so unattractive. One little tap of the jealousy wand and
âyou're a tiny mean troll with brown teeth. The best thing for me to do is to pretend I'm not jealous.
David is brushing his teeth.
“Jessica is the most incredible person I've ever met,” I say. I'm already going too far. “She's amazing. I love her.” I'm laughing as I talk, like a manic teenage girl. “David, I'm not kidding. I think I'm a little in love with her!” Next thing I know, I'm begging David to tell me how soft her skin is and celebrating that I've finally found the love of my life, and the aggression is back in my voice.
This always happens. If I'm not honest about what I'm feeling, the truth finds its own little path to get out. My mother lied about loving her kids more than her cats and now she's a tiny eighty-year-old woman with the face of a giant Persian cat.
Better to be myself and overtly make fun of her.
Half an hour of taint massage jokes and imitations of her chewing or as she called it “exposing her food to her saliva,” later, David informs me that Jessica is a mock-free zone.
Got it. Her and 9/11.
Not being able to make jokes frees my head up, which is unfortunate because I get hit by a huge realization that I don't want to have: It's not Jessica I'm jealous of. It's far more vulgar. It's Hannah. David can't tell me I'm the love of his life because I'm not the love of his life. Of course I'm not. Hannah, his wife for thirteen years and mother of his first child, is the love of his life. In fact, even if they ever discussed David “moving on” after she died, I would hope he told her, “I will try to be happy for my sake and for our son Jack's sake. But you will always be the love of my life. No matter what.”
â¢Â Â Â â¢Â Â Â â¢
Two weeks later, David and I are on the bluff overlooking the ocean by our Santa Monica apartment. I'm leaving in the morning to do a play in Pittsburgh for six weeks, and I'm in a horrible
mood. This morning, I'd decided that before I left I wanted to give Jack, David's son, his first driving lesson. Committing to teaching Jack to drive meant that if something happened, like, oh, David and I broke up before I got back, he and I would still have our thing. Plus, David didn't want me to teach Jack to drive. He felt that he was a young fifteen and not ready. I thought doing it anyway would show Jack that I was a cool girlfriend who rebelled against authority. No matter what happened with David, I wanted Jack and me to have a relationship. Of course I couldn't replace his mother, but maybe I'd end up being the one adult in his life who tried the hardest to be there for him in a non-mother-y yet mother-wannabe way.
You can't be a part of a kid's childhood for any extended period of time and not feel some sort of investment. Well, you could, but it would take a deep commitment to alcoholism and other modes of forgetting. Jack and I have developed a “just a couple of bros hanging in an apartment drinking fizzy water and making fun of the other guy who lives here” dynamic.
My attempts to learn about his life are answered with “your face.” Examples: “Do you think you'll try out for baseball?” “Your face will try out for baseball.” “Does Jaxon have a girlfriend now?” “Your face has a girlfriend now.” It's your standard teenage response, which I happen to find hilarious. “Jack, did you drop this sock?” “Your face dropped that sock.” My face doesn't have hands; get it? I wish Jack was able to relax more around me, but I get it. The first year of college I was so freaked by having a roommate that I didn't fully breathe or poop for the entire first month.
David thinks that Jack and I are alike, and we are, in that we both love to laugh at David
It's nice to have that connection, even if it's more of a laughing
than a laughing
David feels things far more dramatically than most mortals. If I'm exhausted, David
losing his mind from lack of sleep.
” The other night, David was doubled over, clutching his stomach, yelling, “Oh my god! Oh my god!” holding on to the stove for support as he made his way to a box of cereal. Jack and I laughed for days about that. We still take turns trying to fake the other one out. At any point in the day, one of us will cry out in pain, fall on the floor, and as soon as we've caught the other one's attention, pop back up and say, “Whew! Hungry.”
The lesson had taken place on a very wide residential street in our neighborhood. For thirty minutes, I'd covered the basics: driving in a straight line and slamming on the brakes when I yelled, “NOW! NOW! MOTHERFUCKER! NOW!”
Maybe it was my stress over leaving, or the fear of Jack hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake and slamming into a palm tree, but I wanted to tell Jack how deeply I cared about him. How after four years together, it wasn't just his dad I had a connection with; it was him. I wanted to tell him the story about working with his mother's best friend, Nina, on a comedy show in Seattle. About how Nina would give all the writers updates on how Hannah was doing after she got sick. About the day she came into the middle of a pitch session, her eyes puffy and red, and told us how Hannah had accepted the fact that she was going to die, but what she couldn't accept was the fact that she was going to leave Jack and David.
It had been established early on that any talk of Hannah in front of Jack that was not initiated by him was forbidden. I told him anyway. When I got to the endâ“and, Jack, at that moment, I can remember so vividly, even though I'd never met you guys, thinking âGive them to me, Hannah. I'll take care of them'”âJack didn't move. He sat staring out the window. A teenage warrior, blank of emotion.