A Writer Walks Into a Bar (Called the Library)…by Deb Jess

What on earth was I thinking when I suggested “stereotypes” as the topic this week? This is way, way too difficult. First of all, I don’t want to get all “after-school special” on you. And if we haven’t heard the one about how it’s bad to stereotype, maybe we need to read a few ValueTales or simply get out of the house more. Take a few vacations that challenge our cultural comfort zones.

But if you try too hard to avoid stereotypes, you might end up being hyper-politically correct. Both are deadly to good character development. Except when the character is doing the stereotyping and ends up learning some interesting life lessons. Or not.

I love busting stereotypes–particularly those relating to women. For example, I like horror movies—the more obscure and bizarre, the better. (Aren’t we supposed to prefer romantic comedies?) I do not like diamonds. (Aren’t they supposed to be a girl’s best friend?) In school, I actually liked math. I would rather go for a hike than go on a shopping spree. I don’t mind dirt or bugs. In fact, I find certain bugs fascinating. Unless they are earwigs destroying my perennials. Then, soapy death from above, my little stinky enemies. You have eaten your last daisy.

Then again, now I’ve got myself reconsidering this whole shopping spree thing. If it’s a shopping spree for, say, all-weather radial tires and I happen to need tires, does that count? Or how about a shopping spree that includes groceries and household cleaning supplies? How about a shopping spree for a new laptop and maybe a solid pair of running shoes and some drywall? I would vote “Yes” on that shopping spree referendum.

And speaking of shopping sprees, does anyone remember that old game show Supermarket Sweep? I had some roommates in college who were addicted to that show. I’d come home from class every afternoon, and there they’d all be, lined up on the couch under a pink blanket, mechanically eating cereal or pizza while they watched couples race around some fake store tossing high-ticket grocery items in their cart. Those roommates weren’t particularly nice to me, so I spent nearly every night at the library and earned a 4.0 both semesters. (My grades were never as good when I enjoyed my living arrangements. At least it seems they shouldn’t have been.)

That was also the year I turned 21; so while I spent nearly every weeknight at the library, I spent more than a few weekend evenings at a bar called The Library. (I know! It’s like I enjoy being surrounded by books or something.) I also had my heart broken a few times that year by beautiful young men with low morals and high ideals.

So I guess that’s me. The somewhat neurotic, book-loving, highly caffeinated, romantically wounded, bespectacled writer who enjoys a stiff drink now and then. We have hopped our pieces all the way around the board and I have become a different stereotype. At least for today. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go obsess over my amazon pre-sales ranking, sew some corduroy patches on the elbows of my tweed blazer, and reorganize my dictionary collection.

Driving Sideways by Jess Riley

9 Replies to “A Writer Walks Into a Bar (Called the Library)…by Deb Jess”

  1. Great post, Jess. And I’m with you on the shopping stuff. Personally, a shopping spree at the pet store where I could buy thousands of dollars of dog, cat and bird toys and treats would be my shopping spree dream.

    But as far as stereotypes, I hate the stereotype that writers are moody and insecure.

    I don’t know why writers would be moody and insecure. I mean come on, just because we pour our hearts into our work for years with no payment and then put our dreams in the hands of people who invariably reject us over and over and over, doesn’t mean we’re moody and insecure.

    At least we don’t *start out* being moody and insecure.

  2. Jess, this great! Somehow I’m not imagining you gardening in tweed with a book in your one hand and earwig killer in the other. I love the description of the “high ideals/low morals” heartbreakers. Met a few of those myself! (Aren’t they often the ones who are morally oppossed to monogamy as an outdated, patriarchal blah blah blah…? High ideals indeed!)

  3. It’s possible we dated some of the same men in college. When I would watch supermarket sweep and people would be filling carts full of bacon because it was a high ticket item- I would be thinking “what do you do with all that bacon?” I have clutter issues. I dislike too much stuff so the thought of all that bacon in my freezer gave me the whim whams.

    It should be noted that books do NOT constitute clutter and one can have as many of them as they like. Why isn’t there bookstore sweep? Carts full of books. “Eileen’s headed over to the history section now! Oooh look she just took a whole shelf of Ancient Celtic Societies books.”

  4. Joanne–I nearly forgot about my love of pet supply shopping! You can add that to my list, too. 🙂

    Danielle–gardening in tweed…hey, that could be a good album title! Or something in that vein. And yeah, those high ideals/low morals men; why did they always have to be so cute?

    Eileen–you crack me up! Why ISN’T there a Bookstore Sweep?!? I think you’re on to something here. Maybe we could work this angle into our panel presentation!

  5. Haha… I’ve walked into a bar WITH you, Jess, and I KNOW you bust all the stereotypes! And LOVE the gardening in tweed. I might try that!

  6. I’m a cold hearted, ego centric businesswoman and a moody, insecure writer so what does that make me?

    Neutral, baby, neutral. Like Switzerland except without the great chocolate (None left. I’ve eaten it all).

  7. My dream would be for someone else to do my grocery shopping for me….I hate it so much I have to don my iPod to get me through the grind (but then it makes it so enjoyable because I love every song on my iPod!).
    And clothes shopping. Wow, that would also be lovely to have someone else do for me.
    Get me in a bookstore, however, and you have a hard time getting me out again…
    I am, however, still trying to picture you as the earwig buster that you evidently are…and I feel a bit foolish to admit I thought that earwigs were in ears!

  8. Jess-
    Did you go to FSU? I spent many, many nights at the Library. The one that served drinks.

    Eileen —
    Hilarious as always. My friend Lisa McLeod would blow her entire 30 seconds in the self-help section of the bookstore sweep:

    Find God! Lose 20 lbs of Cellulite! Make a Nutritious Dinner in 13 Minutes! Teach Your Husband To Pick Up His Socks!


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