If you are on Twitter and don’t follow @robdelaney, you need to rethink your life. It’s like going to Italy and not eating pizza, or driving through New Jersey for the first time and not listening to Bruce Springsteen, which I’m pretty sure is illegal. Bruce Springsteen is the King of New Jersey, and Rob Delaney is the King of Twitter.
Delaney is more than a hairy Twitter King in a green speedo, however, and he recently wrote a fantastic book called, “Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.”
I just finished reading it, and now I want to hug people who look sad, call my mom to tell her I love her, trespass on creepy abandoned property, tickle a kitten, and be a better, funnier person.
Here are 10 reasons to read the book:
10) You Will Learn French
As someone who was educated mostly at Catholic schools in western Canada, my French knowledge consists of the random words I learned off of cereal boxes and the phrase “je peux aller à la toilet?” which got me out of French class. For this reason, I was thankful that Delaney graciously titled the chapters of his book in French.
Many of the French words he uses are similar to their English counterparts, such as “la curiossite” and “la sexualite,” so it’s not too hard to figure out what he’s saying. Rob studied abroad, in France, during his junior year, and while living with an 85-year-old French woman who made him wear nice sweaters to dine with her, Rob learned him some French. And now he’s sharing it with us! What a good guy.
9) You Will Get A Workout.
An abdominal workout, because of the laughing. You might also pee a little, involuntarily, while your pants are on. I was reading this book in public and a disheveled woman with a toddler walked up to me and demanded to know what was making me giggle so hard. “ROB DELANEY’S BOOK, MADAME,” I replied. Madame means Mrs. in French, so already the French I learned reading this book is making me more respectable.
I didn’t think it was possible for Delaney to be funnier in long form than he is on Twitter and doing stand up, but he is. He is an incredibly talented, funny man.
From childhood tales of microwave eggs-perimentation to illegally bungee jumping off of the Manhattan Bridge, every story he tells, no matter how strange, serious or in some cases, gut wrenching, is knock-me-in-the-boob-and-call-me-Martha hilarious. The book is like his best tweet stretched out like a massive Charleston Chew of words to cover 187 delicious paper pages.
8) You Will Cry
There’s a saying in Italian, ”I laugh so I won’t cry.” That might be a saying everywhere, but I heard it a lot in Italy, probably because where many of us visit laughter and sadness from time to time, those nutty Italians are actually always either laughing or crying.
Children also live within this extreme. They have the ability to laugh maniacally with crazy-faced glee, having the best time of their entire lives, and the very next second, fling themselves on the floor in utter devastation because they didn’t get to eat chocolate. It’s the same emotional tick tock in Delaney’s book.
Sometimes, while reading it, you will feel like an insane Italian child who just ran head first into a table and is now cry laughing while watching Topo Gigio and eating gelato.
I had tears streaming down my cheeks during the gut punch sad parts about his struggles with alcoholism, depression, rehab, and living in a halfway house, but I was still laughing. I’m not evil, it’s just that Delaney’s a wizard who knows how to make you laugh while you cry. It’s strange, but it feels kind of good. Like magic tears are washing over your heavy heart.
Delaney gives us a full spectrum analysis of various forms of shit in his book: baby poo, adult man poo, throwing of poo, bird poo, depression poo, Hepatitis-A poo. There’s a lot of poo, and it’s glorious.
I always say you’re not true friends until you can talk about poo. Rob Delaney is a true friend.
6) You Will Be Grateful
At one point, Delaney finds himself in jail with two broken arms, busted up knees, sitting in a wheelchair, naked save for a hospital gown, with his cut up face covered in blood. He had been driving drunk and crashed his car into a building.
His rock bottom was dramatic and severe, and it made my heart hurt for him and made me think of everything we have to be grateful for.
I’m grateful that Rob for made it through and wrote such an awesome book, and grateful for my life, too.
5) You Will Appreciate Your Family
Even though he’s a great big furry man with a dirty mouth, Rob Delaney is what my mom would call, and has called, a “nice boy.” He’s actually sweet as sugar, and his book reeks of a man who loves and appreciates his family very, very much. That sincere vibe definitely makes you think about the people you love.
He mentions loving his little sister so much that, as a boy, he’d get excited to see her when she rounded the corner of their elementary school, even though he’d just seen her that morning. That story gave me warm fuzzy feelings of sibling love and I just wanted to squeeze my little sister.
4) You Will Think About Your “Do Over” Moment
Delaney writes, “The worst thing I ever did in my whole life is when my mother made me a birthday cake for my 13th birthday, and I refused it.” The story of a teenage boy’s assy kneejerk reaction to his mother’s loving gesture is one of my favorites in the book. Not because I’m glad he was mean to his mother, quite the opposite. We all have those moments when we acted like little goobers that we wish we could do over, and do differently.
Mine happened on my 11th birthday. My mom comes in my room carrying a massive box. I’ve been asking for, dreaming of, and being a general annoyance about rollerblades for the past six months. Mom smiles as I open the box with the possessed fervor of a raccoon digging through a full trash bin. It’s a pink bathrobe. I was such an asshole. I didn’t even pretend to like it.
I straight up refused to wear the bathrobe. Forever. My parents probably couldn’t afford to buy me rollerblades, or maybe they thought they were insane death traps on wheels. Either way, I was a little jackass and wish I could go back and be appreciative. A part of the deal for parents is that your kids break your heart again and again, which I know is true and I know I’ve done, but that one was real bad.
Reading this story will help you figure out your own do-over moment. If you don't have one, congratulations, you’re a better human than both Rob Delaney and me.
3) You Will Think About Mental Health
There is almost a full chapter in Delaney’s book about an impromptu field trip he took with his mom and uncle to the long abandoned Danvers State Hospital. He details the history of the place as they explore it. In the 20th century, it was infamous for performing an insane amount of lobotomies. It reads like a funny horror story where the unseen monster is the failing of the mental health industry before they “knew better.” There’s even a graveyard full of unmarked graves.
Other stories touch on mental health issues, too, but the way he describes the achy, horrible nothingness anti-feeling of severe depression made me shudder.
Despite the fact that he’s a very funny man, I nearly cried the first time I met Rob after one of his shows just a couple months after my own experience with clinical depression. I thanked him for writing his Vice column on depression because reading it was a bit of a roadmap for me when I was going through a rough time. His book works the same way: an eloquent, funny bear hug in a book.
I hope you’ve never and will never experience depression, but we’re all fucked up in one way or another. I’m glad Delaney shared his fucked-upness with us in his book because human beings need to reach through the ether to help and empathize with each other sometimes, and that’s what this sort of open, honest discourse on mental health does.
2) The Word “Penisette.”
Delaney uses this word describe his infant son’s newbie little man member, but I know the term definitely applies to some grown men I’ve met. Poor guys.
Penisette sounds more respectful and fancy than baby penis or pencil dick. Thanks Rob!
1) You Will Make A Friend (Kind Of)
Since I like circles, I’m going to make this one full. The reason I like Springsteen so much, and mention him wherever possible, is because he makes music that is very real, relatable and enjoyable, yet soul churning and buzzing with emotion inside. After reading Delaney’s book, I like him for the same reasons. He feels like everyone’s best friend. A real Ponyboy Curtis.
The book is so conversational that you might finish it and think, “I want to shout out my new best friend Rob.” You can do so, because that’s what Twitter is for.
You’re not real friends of course. Like, if your car breaks down and you need someone to pick you up, you probably shouldn’t depend soley on Delaney, but he’d help you if he could, and he totally wishes you the best.