Laura’s been meaning to do a quick brant about her friend Beth Teitell‘s new book, Drinking Problems at the Fountain of Youth. Some brant readers might think there’s a conflict of interest here — branting about a friend — but in the spirit of full disclosure, as they used to say in real journalism, Laura already blurbed Beth’s book so let the biased blog-rolling begin.
Laura wrote about Beth back on her old brant — at her actual website — and it’s especially good timing to be writing about Beth now because they have just passed their 2-year “friend anniversary”. Laura’s not sure other people observe friend anniversaries but she does with new friends (there’s tons of friends she met so long ago she has no idea when those anniversaries would be) and Beth is one of those new friends whom she can actually remember meeting and falling in “friend-love” with (read: it’s Laura, not the other friends, and the reason she doesn’t remember their friend-anniversaries is because she’s getting old and can’t remember anything).
In a nutshell, it was two years ago when Piece of Work came out and Laura did a phone interview with a reporter from the Boston Herald. The reporter turned out to be Beth Teitell (she now writes for the Boston Globe, FYI), and she was so hilarious on the phone that Laura literally emailed her from her book tour — she was at the Greenwich Hyatt — and asked if they could go into business together. Laura of course had no idea what business it would be — all she knew was that she wanted to kind of attach herself to Beth in some business-related way because Beth was one of the funniest people she’d ever met.
Beth returned Laura’s email and said, simply, “Yes,” and Laura read the email almost instantly because she was back at the Hyatt Greenwich instead of lingering after her bookstore reading signing books because that was the reading where NOBODY, not a single person, came. Soon after the establishment of their friend-love-relationship, Laura decided to go meet Beth in person in early November: Beth was the speaker at the Wellesley Mother’s Forum. To be completely frank, Laura knew who Beth was and Beth knew who Laura was because they were the only two non-blond Jewish women in the room. Anyway, Beth got up and spoke, and Laura almost died laughing, because Beth is like a freakin’ stand-up comedienne, but luckily she didn’t really die laughing because two days later she had to go have her breast-cancer surgery business.
(One funny note: Beth sent Laura a gorgeous post-op orchid–she’d decided on the orchid because she called the florist where everyone was getting their fancy flowers and somehow managed to extract out of the woman on the phone what everyone else was sending Laura at the hospital so she could get something different. At which point her husband, who is also hilarious, and a doctor, pointed out that clearly florists are not bound by HIPAA privacy laws the way health professionals are).
But enough about how they met and how they meet for lunch every few weeks. It’s time to simply say that Drinking Problems at the Fountain of Youth is hilarious, and we all know how unusual it is to find books that are truly laugh-out-loud funny. So if you’re looking for some woman’s-magazine-y-faux-serious-faux-sociological treatise on women and aging in the new millennium without a hint of irony, this is not your book. What this is is of those books that mixes humor and a wonderfully skewed perspective (during one shopping trip a saleswoman pointed out that Beth’s arms were “still good” which caused her to suddenly “hear the biological clock of [her] arms ticking”) with actual science and reporting. This elusive combination of humor and science and facts and reporting was a technique that Laura tried to employ in her book on failure but which she failed to execute successfully in that book on failure since her book on failure failed to sell to a publisher (speaking of anniversaries: it was a year ago that “Failure” failed–maybe Laura should start a whole new category of anniversaries: “failure anniversaries”). For instance, Beth wanted to know if there was a way to “light” yourself when you’re out in public at a restaurant the way photographers light subjects: that is, to look your best (and as young as possible) should you sit with your back to the window or should you sit facing a window? (For the answer you have to read the book.)
And if you’re somehow technologically-challenged and can’t get the YouTube video to work, here’s a great interview with Beth and someone Laura used to know and like from her old publicity days, Andrea Sachs, from Time magazine. And that’s a great picture of Beth from that interview. Clearly all the research hasn’t aged her one bit. Too bad Laura deepened her naso-labial folds and other laugh-lines significantly as a result of attending Beth’s unbelievably funny reading recently at Brookline Booksmith and while devouring the book at home afterwards.