Subtitle: Why We Would Probably Be Besties if We Lived Closer and/or I Were More Famous
When I read the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg I was struck repeatedly with how important the words were in a professional sense. I had more moments than I count of YES—how does she know what’s in my head?! And yet, I don’t think Sandberg would love me in any kind of personal way. I’m not really her type.
But Mindy Kaling? I am definitely her type.
As I read Mindy’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) I felt over and over again a similar YES feeling, but this time, it was about the things that I feel in my gut. And that was cool. (No, not the physiological things I feel in my gut. Sicko.)
Even though Mindy Kaling is a petite Indian woman (who considers herself “chubby”—what?!) and I am a tall, un-petite, white girl with an extraordinarily square jaw, I think we would get along incredibly well. And here are 15 reasons why.
1. Because I get what it’s like to be bullied. Especially because of your weight. And especially when you think you’re doing it right.
Take for example the LHS Homecoming dance my freshman year. I was dressed to the threes (in retrospect, it only felt like the nines) in a forest green, high collared, shapeless dress and I had painstakingly “straightened” my hair. (Yeah, my hair doesn’t really do straight…) I had been nursing a crush on a track star for quite a while and was thrilled when he asked me to dance!
Sadly, the highest highs are often followed by the lowest lows and the phone calls started coming in the next day. Several fat jokes to mutual friends later, word reached me. But then he apologized (by note, because notes were all the rage in the late 90s…) and somehow became the hero. A-hole.
I could go on, but it’s all kind of the same and you get the idea. You know who else gets the idea? Mindy.
Mindy related similar stories in her book. She said, “How I continually found myself in situations where I felt I had to say thank you to mean guys, I’m not sure… bullies have no code of conduct.”
Truer words have never been spoken, future friend.
But more importantly, she also said, “Being called fat is not like being called stupid or unfunny, which is the worst thing you could ever say to me.”
Do you hear that US Customs Agent in Houston?! By failing to laugh at a single one of my jokes (e.g., “What are you bringing back with you?” “Just a little bit of sun burn!”) you did call me unfunny, and that was not cool.
2. Because I sweat. A lot. So other people that sweat a lot are not gross to me—they are kindred sweat spirits.
Pretty people always terrify me. Mostly because I’m sure they are going to hate me. But pretty people who sweat?! We will get along just fine. I have bonded with plenty of girls over pit stains or comparing notes on antiperspirants.
Sweat. The great equalizer.
I know Mindy gets this, and I know she would want to be my friend, because she said, “How can you not make a best friend out of a girl who has seen the sweat-soaked pelvis area of your gym pants, daily, and who still chooses to spend time with you?” Right, Stephanie?!
3. Because high school was absolutely not the highlight of my life. And it just keeps getting better.
Throughout her book, Mindy dispenses very little advice, but she does say this: “Teenage girls, please don’t worry about being super popular in high school, or being the best actress in high school, or the best athlete. Not only do people not care about any of that the second you graduate, but when you get older, if you reference your successes in high school too much, it actually make you look kind of pitiful.” Word.
In high school, I was an academic nerd, a band geek, an art weirdo, and the worst girl on the team (yes, every team). But I was all in… and that’s the important thing to remember. (Did you catch the New Girl reference? Kayla?)
I do allow myself one bragging point from high school, though. I was good at dissecting things. Jealous?
4. Because when it comes to friendship, I value quality over quantity.
And so does Mindy.
“One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about. We never needed best friend gear because I guess with real friends you don’t have to make it official. It just is.”
Every friend I’ve ever had to try really hard for hasn’t been real. The friends that just were… they just were.
Mindy is clearly going to be the exception. This post is taking a considerable amount of work…
Also, Melissa and I totally just got best friend gear, so… perhaps I’m a big old hypocrite, but that’s ok.
5. Because I can relate Harry Potter to pretty much anything.
Look at this paragraph:
“We clung to each other with blind loyalty, like Lord Voldemort and his snake Nagini. I, of course, was Nagini. If you messed with one of us, you knew you messed with both of us, and Voldemort was going to cast a murder spell on you, or Nagini was going to chomp on your jugular. It was such a good, dramatic time.”
Yeah, I get that relationship. Excellent reference.
How better to make a point than with a Harry Potter reference?! Did you read my post yesterday? Harry Potter is where it’s at!
6. Because I do not believe that being from the east coast legitimizes a-hole-ish-ness.
In my opinion, and please feel free to hate me for saying so, it’s true that people on the east coast are less friendly than those living elsewhere in the country. (Granted, I’ve never been to Georgia, Alabama, or Arkansas… maybe people there are jerks? I doubt it. How can you be a jerk when you drink nothing but sweet tea all day?) But how seriously obnoxious is it when people use that as an excuse for being a jerk to you? Right, seriously obnoxious.
Mindy’s description? “You know those people who legitimize their sarcastic, negative personalities by saying proudly they are ‘lifelong New Yorkers’? She was one of those.” This is my new favorite phrase.
7. Because if I could eat anything I wanted, it would be 100% kid-friendly garbage.
I try really hard (no, really!) to eat as healthy as possible as much of the time as possible. I enjoy eating things fresh out of the garden (and by “the garden” I mean other people’s gardens) and I like cooking from scratch. But let’s be honest: if I could eat anything without consequence, it would be crap. 100% reeee-fiiiiined crap. And it would be delicious. I hate pretending all the time like, “Ewww Oreos…” and “Fruit Roll-Ups are soooo unnatural….” Whatevs, give me a bag of Oreos and a box of Fruit Roll-Ups and I’ll have them polished off in 15 minutes. Seriously. Mindy agrees: “Kid-friendly food is the best, because kid-friendly simply means ‘total garbage.'”
Delicious, kid-friendly garbage.
8. Because if I like you, I love you and I will get intimate real quick. If you do not reciprocate, I will assume you hate me.
When I was younger, I hated it when people called me “Rach.” Now, I love it! LOVE IT! But it can’t be forced, and I would never ask someone to call me that. But when it organically makes it’s way out of a good friend’s mouth (Abby, Melissa, Ellen, Jess, I’m talking to you here!) it just feels so right! (Was that the creepiest thing I’ve ever written? Maybe.)
But seriously, when you’ve got that kind of natural intimacy with a friend right away, it’s going to be awesome.
I was totally comfortable asking Melissa to teach me how to cut up an avocado the first time I ever met her.
I made pancakes in Jess’s kitchen when she wasn’t even there the day after I met her. And then emailed her to ask her about school supplies… for grad school. (See? NERD.)
Like me, Minday says, “I respond very well to people being overly familiar with me a little too soon. It shows effort and kindness. I try to do this all the time. It makes me feel part of a big, familial, Olive Garden-y community.”
This post is overly familiar, Mindy is going to love it. (Or get a restraining order. Can you get one of those for the internet? I hope not… it would be a bummer if I couldn’t follow her on Twitter anymore.)
9. Because I’m ok with weird, non-mainstream kinds of things so long as they don’t hurt anybody.
Reiki? Tried it. Loved it. Would totally do it again.
Acupuncture? Tried it. Hated it. But I totally get why some people swear by it and that’s cool with me.
Mindy once worked for a tv psychic and I loved what she had to say about him: “If I had to testify under oath, I would admit, no, I don’t believe Mac Teegarden in psychic… I am certain, though, that Mac Teegarden provided an enormous amount of comfort to people who had unexpectedly lost loved ones. I don’t know if it was psychic, but it was cathartic, and therapeutic, and it helped people.”
An important point I feel I need to make here is this: I believe in ghosts. 100%. And Ghost Hunters (NOT the International version– very important distinction here) is one of my favorite shows ever.
10. Because I LOVE romantic comedies. LOVE THEM…
Rom-com is definitely my favorite genre of movie. Oh yes, I have taken a lot of crap for it and I spent some time being seriously ashamed (like after the night I made a big group of girls watch The Holiday and was made fun of mercilessly for it– I get it, Cameron Diaz is a terrible actress, but the Kate Winslet/Jack Black/older guy storyline just slays me and I can’t help it!). In fact, the only thing that gets me through workouts on the elliptical (because running out of doors causes bathroom incidents, as we’ve discussed) are movies recorded off of Lifetime or the Hallmark channel.
Imagine my joy when I read this from dear Mindy: “I love romantic comedies. I feel almost sheepish writing that, because the genre has been so degraded in the past twenty years or so that admitting you like these movies is essentially an admission of mild stupidity. But that has not stopped me from watching them.”
Stupid or not, I love love! And those movies make me feel happy!
11. … especially British romantic comedies…
Bridget Jones and Love Actually. End of story.
Ok, not really end of story because Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Jane Eyre are also favorites of mine. Granted, they are more British romances rather than romantic comedies. But I have to believe that Mindy probably likes movie adaptations of Jane Austen too.
12. … and in British romantic comedies, Colin Firth is the best. BEST!
Seriously, Mindy Kaling spent basically an entire paragraph on Colin Firth. And that was when I knew knew that we would be best friends.
“All women love Colin Firth: Mr. Darcy, Mark Darcy, George VI – at this point he could play the Craigslist Killer and people would be like ‘Oh my God, the Craigslist Killer has the most boyish smile!’ I love Colin Firth in everything… But the role that makes me cry is Mark Darcy, from Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
OMG– I know! “I like you very much. Just as you are.” I DIE at that line! I just adore it so much!
But, Mindy, ponder this for a moment: the Colin Firth story line in Love Actually. He learns Portugeuse for bonita Aurelia! I think Jamie may just edge past Mark Darcy in terms of all time most romantic things ever. EVER. We should really get together to discuss. Perhaps watch both movies back-to-back… just to be sure.
13. Because I hate “because you’re a woman questions” that wouldn’t even be questions if you were a man.
This is actually an important point that I think Sheryl Sandberg, Mindy Kaling, and I can all agree on. We don’t ask male CEOs how they balance their home and work life, we assume that their wife is at home taking care of the kids along with whatever hired help they’ve got to work alongside them. When a woman has a husband and hired help at home do the same thing, she is somehow neglectful and has mixed up priorities or whatever other insults get thrown around.
Similarly, Mindy laments being asked about women being funny:
“Why didn’t you talk about whether women are funny or not?” I just felt that by commenting on that in any real way, it would be tacit approval of it as a legitimate debate, which it isn’t. It would be the same as addressing the issue of “Should dogs and cats be able to care for our children? They’re in the house anyway.” I try not to make it a habit to seriously discuss nonsensical hot-button issues.”
I feel like she should maybe write that in a letter to Sheryl Sandberg so that Sheryl can pull it out of her pocket and read it word-for-word the next time a reporter asks her a dumb question like that.
Women are people, too, after all. Some people are funny, some people are not. Some people are good at business, some people are not. I’m pretty sure in both situations “people” can be either women or men.
14. Because I get what it’s like to be a writer, and my productive-writing-to-screwing-around ratio is very, very low.
I had never really thought about this ratio before, but Mindy describes it well:
“I’ve found my productive-writing-to-screwing-around ratio to be one to seven. So, for every eight hours day of writing, there is only one good productive hour of work being done.”
I write all day and then come home and write some more at night. And I’d say that my ratio is probably about that at work. (I try! Seriously! But things never seem to really come together except for in brief manic spurts!) And blogging, well, some come easy and some, like this one, take DAYS. Seriously, it’s disturbing how much time I’ve spent on this post. This creepy, creepy post. And yet my rapidly rising word count down below suggests that I’ve at least made some progress.
15. Because I hate arbitrary beauty standarsd, but sometimes I adhere to them and I reserve the right to choose which ones and to ferociously defend my right not to observe others.
Once upon a time, I refused to pluck my eyebrows and I was quite vocal about it– if a guy doesn’t like me because of my eyebrows then forget him!
These days, I have literally gone out to purchase new tweezers on a week long vacation because my eyebrows just couldn’t be trusted anymore.
Mindy talks about men waxing their chests and says, “… it just shows so much icky effort to conform to some arbitrary beauty standard. And the standard in this instance is particularly inane.”
HA! It’s true… even about my eyebrows. But I do it anyway. And men continue to wax their chests anyway. (And thank goodness they do because seriously, that made for true comedic gold in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.)
So, I guess this post is actually kind of a book review.
I didn’t actually intend to write a book review, but as I approach the end, it seems that that’s exactly what I’ve done. Mindy Kaling is F-U-N-N-Y funny. And interesting. And I feel like we have kind of similar writing styles, so obviously I found that charming. And if you’ve been reading along with me here for a while, you might just find her charming too.
There are lots of comparisons out there to Tina Fey’s book Bossypants, which is also an excellent read, but they are both autobiographical and this may come as a surprise to you, but Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling are not, in fact, the same person, so naturally, the stories they tell are 100% different and 100% excellent. I would highly recommend them both.
AND, since your DVR has an open slot now that 30 Rock is over, you may want to consider filling it up with The Mindy Project.
So, in conclusion, I think Mindy Kaling and I could be good friends. Fingers crossed she reads this and we can plan a romantic-comedy-watching-junk-food-eating sleepover sometime soon. (Or that she just doesn’t file for that restraining order… I’m good either way.)