In the Portland airport yesterday morning, I bought Chelsea Handler’s new book, UGANDA BE KIDDING ME, about her trip to Africa. It is SCREAMINGLY funny, and I’d read 2/3 of it by the time I got onto my connecting flight out of Chicago to Tulsa. I was surrounded on this flight with several cancer patients heading back to Tulsa after a particular kind of cancer treatment in Chicago.
The young woman sitting across the aisle from me saw me laughing and asked, “Is that book good?”
It was, indeed, I told her, thinking this is a book that would make Stef Neyhart fall over sideways laughing. (For example: Chelsea Handler says the 3 things any world traveler needs are these essentials – 1.) a compass 2.) skiis and 3.) a shotgun.)
Anyway, as I studied this young woman’s face, I noticed that it seemed swollen and a little gray. Her eyes looked dull, with a fear peeking out back in there somewhere. WAS SHE A CANCER PATIENT, TOO? CAN I JUST ASK HER THAT? I MEAN, WHAT IS PROPER HERE? IS THERE A CANCER PROTOCOL? AND, IF THERE IS, WHY DON’T I KNOW IT? AND, WHAT IF SHE BREAKS DOWN IN TEARS? OR – EVEN WORSE – WHAT IF SHE’S NOT A CANCER PATIENT AND WANTS TO KNOW WHY I THINK THAT, THEN I BUMBLE THROUGH A RAGGEDLY HONEST EXCUSE FOR WHY I EVEN THOUGHT THAT AND THEN SHE’S FOREVER FRETTING OVER HER BLOATED, GRAY FACE AND DULL, FEARFUL EYES? JEEPERS, WHAT A MESS I’VE CREATED – GOOD JOB, JODY! YAY, ME!
“I’ve thought about getting that book for my brother and his boyfriend because they LOVE Chelsea Handler,” she said, “then I could read it before I give it to them.”
I am a pretty fast reader, but I have never read the last third of any book faster than I read that one yesterday. I can’t say I exactly remember what I read in the last third of the book, either, but as the wheels to our plane touched down on the Tulsa runway yesterday, I closed the book and held it across the aisle to this young woman. “For you,” I said, as she smiled and took the treasure from my hand, “today is a good day to laugh.”
And, Stef Neyhart, the most gentle one in the world who keeps me calm, said just what I knew she would say, what is ALWAYS in her heart, as I told her the story on the phone last night, “Always go with the greater need.” She was right, as usual. And, so, I did. JS