Often, when I send a new story to my agent, and then spend the next hours repeatedly checking my Blackberry for an encouraging reaction--something along the lines of, “Yup…that’s the funniest thing I've ever read,” or, “I peed,” her somewhat less enthusiastic reply includes one or more of the following:
• “Punching babies? Brian, Brian, Brian…”
• “I took out seventeen of the ‘fucks’.”
• “Toenails? Soup? TOENAILS?!?”
• “No. Did you get that? N. O.”
Patty, my greatest defender, gently pats my hand and adds soothingly, “Don't take it too hard, honey; it WAS absolutely disgusting.”
My agent’s reasoning is sound. A huge proportion of acquiring editors at publishing firms are women, and more than one is at least moderately anti-baby-punch. I am not a woman, nor have I figured out enough about this species to claim more than a passing understanding and a deep-seated please-don't-bring-that-knife-to-bed fear. I DO know that some of you like shoes, and that most of you don’t like me.
For some reason, a loud reference to vaginal farts that causes snot to fly from each man’s nostrils (and then causes those same men to laugh harder at the sight of sputum) rarely draws even a grudging chuckle from your average gal. And, if said woman is your wife, she usually just sits there with her mouth hanging open before finally snapping, in a shout-whisper, “BRIAN! It’s not funny. For god’s sake…this is a funeral.”
Still, there are a few women out there who don’t pull punches, except perhaps around babies. One of my favorites is Candice, whose blog Life According to Candice has, more than once, drawn a "WTF?" from me. Recent entries have delved into gynecological exams, KY jelly, the well-hung, spanking and corncob dildos. Check it out.
Another is Allie of Hyperbole and a Half who, while usually a little more restrained than Candice, still never shies away from referring to someone as a “queef-faced man-child.” She's yet to refer to me as such; until then, I recommend giving her a read.
So, is the tide shifting? Are women starting to warm up to the idea that all the nasty shit that happens, especially as we age, is the stuff of pure comic bliss? Can't we all see a giant English cucumber in a light-hearted way? Will Patty come around, and say, "Ohmigod, your joke about shit and sundaes made me piddle?"
I doubt it. More likely, I'll stay as Chief Snot-Giggler in the Land of Ugh.