Deb Molly Celebrates Hump Day

Happy Hump Day, Everyone!

2012 Debutante Molly BackesI’m pretty sure if I were a romance writer, I wouldn’t be allowed to talk about Hump Day in a public forum, but luckily I write for young adults, where we just giggle and roll our eyes a lot.

I didn’t embrace the greatness of Hump Day until I went to college in Iowa.  (And yes, I’m going to keep saying Hump Day until you giggle. Hump Day Hump Day!) I went to Grinnell, which is known nationally as being a great liberal arts school with a huge endowment, and known locally as “the one with all the naked kids.”

Let me back up for a moment. About me: I grew up in Wisconsin, just outside Madison, and after college I moved to New Mexico, where I taught middle school. Currently I live in Chicago, where I teach creative writing at StoryStudio Chicago and spend much of my day talking to my greyhound Zia.

My book, THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA, is a reverse-Cinderella story in which an It-girl who seems to have it all – the gorgeous boyfriend, the perfect best friends, and a spot on the Homecoming Court – starts to wonder if there’s more to life than being popular. (And, as Deb Tawna mentioned, there’s also a gay creative writing teacher, a fake car accident, a real car accident, some jokes about Muttnik, a sexy nerd, an angry alternateen, a disastrous homecoming parade, and an airbrushed T-shirt that says “I love my Iowa Grandma.”)

Just as Deb Erika’s book is a love letter to New Orleans and Maine, my book began as a love letter to Iowa. When I wrote it, I was living in a weird little house in the mountains of New Mexico with my dog Zeke, and homesick for the rolling prairies and fields of the Midwest….

Which brings me back to Hump Day.

So in college, the woman who took your ID card at the dining hall was named Norma,* and she was a little bonkers. We had many theories to explain her weirdness, ranging from Nazi War Criminal Deep Undercover to Slightly Defective Android. Norma tried to memorize everyone’s name, and she was very good at it unless you wanted to be called something different than the name on your Student ID, in which case Norma’s wires seemed to get crossed, and she would just start shouting random names at you.

And every Wednesday, Norma would greet you with “It’s Hump Day!” Only she’d kind of shout it. “IT’S HUMP DAY!”

We all loved her.

One Wednesday – the BEST Wednesday – I was leaving the dining hall with some friends, and Norma showed off her name skills by wishing us each a Happy Hump Day. “HAPPY HUMP DAY, PAUL! HAPPY HUMP DAY, KEVIN! HAPPY HUMP DAY, MOLLY! HAPPY HUMP DAY, ZACK!”

I’d walked out with just Paul and Kevin, so I glanced around for a Zack, but there wasn’t anyone else in the hallway. Behind us, I heard Norma say to herself, “There’s no Zack there.”

Best. Ever.


HAPPY HUMP DAY, everyone! I’m so excited to be spending a year’s worth of them with you!


*name changed to protect the Nazi War Criminal and/or Android

65 Replies to “Deb Molly Celebrates Hump Day”

  1. Okay, I’m giggling. And I think I love Norma, whatever her real name is.

    I’m awfully fond of Hump Days myself. I was born on a Wednesday (and I’m NOT full of woe, regardless of what that dumb poem says), so I have a special affinity for them.

    Can’t wait to read THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA — a reverse Cinderella story sounds like just what the book world needs to restore balance. Love that idea!

    1. Thanks, Linda! I always felt that poem was sort of awful for anyone who wasn’t born on Sunday. Sunday’s child got FOUR adjectives? UNFAIR. Plus, what’s with hating on Wednesday’s child? (EDIT: I just looked it up on wikipedia — I’d always thought the poem was “Monday’s child is FULL of face,” and I thought it was a diss on how fat the kid’s face was.)

      1. Full of face? LOL! That would be bad.

        My baby brother was born on a Sunday (Easter Sunday, at that), and I always thought that was totally unfair, too.

  2. Wait, your name didn’t match your ID and she still eventually learned it? DIDN’T YOU LIVE ON SOUTH CAMPUS?! Even when I moved South I still ate North most days (I was on a Cowles eating schedule. Who the hell eats dinner at 4:30 QUAD?) My name matched my ID. I have the most common name in the universe for girls our age. Norma (awesome) always shouted 10 names at me, none of them ever mine. I’m jealous.

    1. Langan & Norris, baby. It took me most of freshman year, but I eventually got her to call me Molly! In retrospect, half the campus — like 600 kids — ate at Cowles. It’s amazing that she learned as many names as she did!

  3. Good morning! I hate to correct you on your first Deb day, but — EVERYONE in the New York/New England region knows that Wednesday is now and ever shall be Prince Spaghetti Day, when Mama in the North End of Boston calls,”Anthooonnnyyyyyy” and her boy comes running home to dig into a steaming plate of spaghetti. Here’s the classic ad:

    Dick Cavett did the voice over – which is very cool.

    Sounds to me like Norma might have had a touch of Asperger’s Syndrome. Interesting indeed.

    And for all romance writers, but Tawna in particular, here’s a song that was very popular at Dartmouth in 1984 (yup) called Humpin’ by Gap Band. Free free to dance, but not until you’ve finished your spaghetti.

    Happy first week!

    1. I stand corrected! Spaghetti was one of the few things my dad knew how to cook, so EVERY night was spaghetti night when he was in charge! 🙂 I lived in Boston for one summer — just long enough to discover the joys of fluffernutters & calzones & clam chowder. Mmmmmm… is it time for lunch yet?

      1. The Fluffernutter is the best sandwich every invented! And Whoopie Pies are now sweeping west, I hear. That said, I’m happy to nosh on Philly Tasty Kakes and the Cleveland Eastern Euro food I grew to love there too – Potica? Sign me up. I’ll take a fine Iowa corndog fresh from the fryer six days a week!

        1. If I may chime in on the whole Whoopie Pie craze–what gives? Call me a Maine-made traditionalist, but who decided it was not only okay but a good idea to flavor the Whoopie? They come in one flavor–gooey chocolate cake and vanilla lard, I mean, frosting center. I’ve seen red velvet Whoopies, pumpkin flavored Whoopies. Oh, the shame…

          But now fluffernutters…Oh, be still my heart!

          1. AGREE! But Steve’s in Maine is leading the charge with some DAMN good flavored Whoopies. I made a ginger lemon filled for grown ups this summer – divine. I have a cookbook I got for my 11th birthday with a WHoopie Pie recipe I still use. With gluten free cake the filling is GFCF and we’re good to go! Oh, and OREO cakesters? NEVER NEVER NEVER. Robbers!

          2. Kim, would you believe I had no idea what CAKESTERS were and there I was tonight getting Oreos for my husband’s advisees tomorrow and there they were on the shelf in front of me–Egads! What in the–?! Foul! I cry foul!!

        2. My favorite Iowan food is deep-fried chunks of creamed corn. Specifically from Dari Barn, one of those ice cream huts where you order at the window and eat outside at a picnic table next to a bunch of tractors. Every town has one of those, right?

          1. My Mom used to make us creamed corn as kids – it was like dessert and we loved it for it’s complete “non-Italianosity” (I made that word up, I’m a professioanl writer, I can do that kind of thing.) 😉 Do you read JA Konrath’s Jack Daniels (a she, detective)? Not medical but thrillers that make you leave the lights ON.

      1. I’m eclectic. Sirius – I have Howard Stern (2 channels) 80s, Siriusly Sinatra, First Wave and Funk programmed into my car!

  4. Welcome to Hump Day, Molly. I love Hump Day so much, that on most Wednesdays, I send my agent a Hump Day Haiku. She either enjoys them, or is too polite/afraid/pitying to ask me to stop.

    So to welcome you, here’s a Humpday Haiku in your honor.

    It’s Molly’s Debut
    Here on The Debutante Ball
    Great Humpday Indeed!

    Looking forward to THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA – it sounds like super-chaotic fun, my favorite kind.

  5. Oh boy, how can I follow up a haiku?

    Molly, I too am swooning here about THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA–and very excited to get my hands on a copy.

    You and I are sisters in college nudity. (Boy, where is she going with THIS, you’re wondering?) I went to what was once known–and maybe still is–as THE hippie school, Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, and have many fond memories of clothing-optional activities (and dorms, for that matter). Oh but that’s fodder for another post…

    Here’s to Wednesdays with you, Deb Molly!

    1. Thanks, Erika! I’m pretty sure “sisters in college nudity” needs to be on a tee-shirt… and sold in the Hampshire & Grinnell College bookstores, apparently!

  6. I went to Macalester in St. Paul, which sounds much like your description of Grinnell on many fronts.

    I’m feeling kind of like “There’s no Zack there” could be the new “There is no spoon” or “The cake is a lie”. And if you catch either of those references, you are as geeky as I am.

    So happy you’ve joined the Ball! Here’s to THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA!

    1. Yay! Thanks, Eleanor, I owe it all to you. *Waving my hands in front of my face so my mascara doesn’t run…* I do think Grinnell & Macalester are very similar — wanna join Erika’s & my “sisters in college nudity” club? It’s okay if you weren’t *actually* naked — Minnesota is COLD! — but I bet Macalester was still a naked school.

        1. A bunch of streakers ran past the windows during one of the college president’s first speeches at Grinnell; he looked up and said dryly, “It’s cold.”

  7. I love this story. As good an introduction as any! It’s funny, I had never even heard the term “hump day” until I was in the summer between junior and senior year in college. (and no, i don’t think I lived under a rock. I dont think.) Then some girl mentioned it being hump day at an internship and I stared at her like she was actually making a sexual reference. Like you, it still makes me giggle to this day.

    1. Yay! Thanks, Carey! And yes, you and Eleanor should be besties. (Her book is on the shelf at StoryStudio — grab it next time you’re in!)

  8. I’d never heard of “Hump day” before “Norma”, and had no idea that it had to do with the middle of the week. The first time she yelled “Happy hump day [myname]! Happy hump day [boyfriend’s name]”, my first thought was, “Oh, god, how does she know?!?”.

  9. I officially love both you AND Norma… and the fact that “hump day” and “endowment” fell so close together. Morning giggle? Achieved. Cannot WAIT to read your book!

        1. Lady Knightly-Thorne-Winston gazed longingly at the Duke of Winchester-upon-the-Hudson. “Oh,” she thought, “if only he would hump me.”

  10. Norma’s robot powers were slow to warm up, for some reason. Lunch and dinner, she got my name dead-on, but breakfast she was CONVINCED i was another girl. She didn’t even bother to check the ID post-swipe/name-shouting because she was so convinced I was this other girl. One time I corrected her and almost got tossed from the dining hall. After that I just smiled and nodded and waited for her update to run before the lunch crowd showed.

    1. Ha, yes! But have you considered the fact that you may have actually been a different person at breakfast? THERE’S NO ZACK THERE.

      1. Unfortunately I knew exactly who she thought I was. I didn’t actually look anything like her except her length and color. The scanner in her ocular cavities just weren’t sharp enough to differentiate until 11, I think. One day she screamed “You can’t eat twice! You can’t eat breakfast twice!” Luckily she and I didn’t eat breakfast the same day often (or if we did, she was later than I was and got the *error* shouting.)

  11. I don’t see why you *couldn’t* eat breakfast twice. If you had 3 meals a day, you should have been able to use two of them for breakfast! 🙂

  12. I accidentally Hump-Dayed over on MA101 today too, in blissful ignorance of both this post and Linda G.’s usual camel update. Odd, the things our brains sometimes know before we do.

    Congrats on Debuting here, M. Molly! (Is that the right verb? I think debutantes also “come out,” maybe? I’ll go see if anyone’s registered yet.)

  13. True story. It’s nice to know after all these years, Molly, that you don’t suspect Kevin or I of being Nazi War Criminals or Androids. Or at least, not suspicious enough to give us pseudonyms.

  14. I loved Norma, too, Molly, but I must say, she stressed me out a little bit. She often greeted me as Molly or Rachel or something else other than my name, then went into a strange epileptic state when she realized that she got it wrong. Though she held my ID in her hand, it was as if her gaze could not focus on it, instead staring at me, mouth agape, trying to find the right name. Either I had to tell her my name was Erin, or she would eventually check the card, and then my lunch tasted of the bitterness of failure. Happy Hump Day, indeed.

    1. But then you would mix cereal and soft-serve ice cream in a juice glass and all would be right with the world and/or lunch.

  15. hi Molly! I’m trying to make a concerted effort to stop by and welcome all the new Debs!! So Welcome!!! I hope you have a fabulous year and are able to lean on your Deb sisters a lot–it’s a great group with whom to share the ups and downs of that debut year. Kristy Kiernan sure knew what she was doing when she founded the Debutante Ball! Look forward to your posts and your books!

  16. One of the things other debs have taught me is to branch out of my comfort zone. I have always been a medical thriller reader and well….not much else. I’m learning and I’m actually learning to like it. I guess you could say at one point I was a YA reader. That was Judy Bloom, right? So, I’m looking forward to hump day and to learning more about YA (and I still need to get to Populazzi).


  17. OMG Someone has stacked the deck against me. I just commented on Deb Erika’s Tuesday entry about a bad night in New Orleans, and the next thing I have to face is Grinnell, Iowa.
    That’s one of the sites of my second — and last — internet dating experience. We met halfway between his place (Iowa City) and mine (Ames) for lunch at a restaurant called The Depot. Then we took a drive through Grinnell and it was the first thing I knew about the college there.
    Several months later the relationship ended hostilely, but I did enjoy picturesque Grinnell.

    I hope you enjoy your reign.

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