Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling.
Reading Challenge: A book written by a celebrity
Mindy Kaling is not actually your best friend, but after reading this book, you may feel like maybe she is. She’s your charming, funny, wildly successful,slightly neurotic, very girly best buddy, whom you love constantly even as you find her kind of obnoxious at times. And that’s great, as far as I’m concerned: especially in the comedy world, being confident, occasionally obnoxious and not always likeable has been a staple for men for what feels like forever. Comedy girl power!
I realized right around when she talked about her favorite comedy bits that Mindy Kaling and I would not actually be best friends, even in “this celebrity is my best friend” fantasy world (I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those fantasies, but if I did I think I’d pick someone nerdier, and/or more outspoken on social issues. Mark Ruffalo, maybe). Anyone who loves Will Ferrell to that extent and I are not going to be best friends any time soon. Also, I’m not into shopping. And that’s both the strength and weakness of this book: there’s enough in here that probably everyone can find something to relate to, but you may only really love the parts you can relate to. So here are the things I can relate to, and the parts I particularly loved:
- Where she takes on John Cougar Mellencamp and touts the advantages of being a quiet, overlooked kid in high school. This struck me as accurate, and then I read the whole thing to my husband, who is the authority as he actually went to high school, which I didn’t, and he confirmed that it struck a chord with him as well.
- One-night stands and her conversation with her Excited Sexually Liberated Friend. This was the part of the book that made me laugh so hard I couldn’t speak. Partly because it was just so funny, but mostly because it was JUST SO TRUE. I have been that friend. The Mindy friend, not the ESLF.
- Body image things. As someone who also falls into the “average American woman” size, I do feel it’s a weird place to be, just in general. It’s confusing when you know you’re not actually being discriminated against because of your size but you’ll also never be categorized by society as “hot” because you have body fat. And if you’re in Hollywood, I’m sure it must be a million times worse. Although she says it wasn’t cool of her to do what she did, I actually think Mindy’s shining moment in this book is when she makes the stylist fit the dress to her rather than the other way around.
- Men vs. boys. I’m married to a man, but I definitely dated boys in the past. I think she’s completely right about where the dividing line is, and I now feel slightly better about the fact that I’ve definitely met “boys” my age, and thought I was the only one who thought there was something slightly wrong there. You’re in your early thirties! Why are you surprised to learn that bureaucracy is a thing that exists? Why are you considering another, only slightly related grad program as you reach the end of your current one?
- Types of women in romantic comedies. Having also grown up in a household that watched a metric f-ton of romantic comedies (I love you, family, but why? So many of them were so bad), I can confirm the existence of these types. Also, when does this Mindy Kaling low-budget romantic comedy she was pitching in one scene get off the ground? I feel like someone this aware of the tropes who also really loves romantic comedies might make an actually good one.
- Almost anything childhood-related. And here, can’t we all relate to that in some way? No childhood came without weird humiliations, diving board or not.
So, no, Mindy is not your best friend, but the way she writes, you could be fooled into thinking she was for a little while.
Suggested pairing: This book clearly calls for a Cosmo.