(Post copyright 2011, Dawn Weber)
I’ve spent the past couple days walking into doors, tripping over my feet and neglecting my children.
Nothing new, but I'm more oblivious than usual. I blame author Wade Rouse. I’ve just finished his newest memoir: “It’s All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine" and couldn't put the damn thing down. Read the 288-page book between Tuesday and Wednesday, walking around the house glued to my e-reader like a teen girl to a cell phone.
As regular LightenUp! readers all ten of them - I love you guys! can imagine, of course I'm a huge fan of any book that begins with a prologue called “Jingle Balls," which details Rouse’s great-uncle parading around in a stuffy, crappy Santa Claus suit, complaining to his wife of too-hot testicles. What's not to love?
With that, Rouse kicks off a memoir filled with wacky, offbeat, loving craziness. He throws his front door wide open, inviting us in for his family's bungling celebrations, from childhood to present day with his partner Gary.
Have you ever dismembered a Barbie and glued her to your Valentine box ? Given your beloved a three-pack of Hanes briefs as a romantic gift? Have you ever celebrated "Swedish Day?" No?
Have you ever trick-or-treated in a rural Ozark neighborhood - skin painted black - dressed as an African tribesman? Imagined that Pez dispensers were your "little friends?" Dropped a game-winning baseball while trying to hug (and possibly kiss) your teammate? No?
And it's really no wonder, with a madcap family like his: a dad who buries Easter eggs to make the hunt "more challenging," a mom who "levitates" her son's bed to get him to sleep.
Many other authors have pimped their family foibles for humor's sake: Augusten Burroughs, Laurie Notaro and David Sedaris, *cough* Dawn Weber *cough* to name a few. What makes Rouse different?
You can almost physically feel Rouse's devotion to his family. He's sprinkled serious pieces about his partner, Gary, their dogs, and especially his (now deceased) mom, a central, grounding figure all through the work. These essays give the collection a depth and flavor not found with other authors, and I finished “It’s All Relative...” wishing I knew Rouse better - that he was in my family or circle of friends.
In fact, I met Rouse once, at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop last April. Wade walked around, hugging and talking with us, the attendees. When I thanked him for stopping and taking a picture with me, he hugged me again and said:
“Oh, come on - I am just one of you! I am just like you.”
I wish, Wade. I wish.
Wade Rouse is the author of three other memoirs (which I now have to get, because I loved this one so much. Thanks a lot, Rouse.) Fellow writers, don't miss your chance to attend Rouse's upcoming writing workshop, May 12-15 Check it out: http://www.wadeswriters.com/index.html
Be sure to leave a comment below to win a brand-new copy of “It’s All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine." On Sunday, Feb. 13, a winner will be randomly chosen from this post’s commenters. Please ensure I have your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. The best way to do this is to be sure you're one of my blog followers hint-hint.