When I was around 10-years-old, I kept seeing this book next to the magazines in the grocery store:
Do they still sell books in grocery stores? Next to the magazines? My local grocery store doesn't have magazines, it has preserved, salted plums.
Anyway, 10-year-old Louise was intrigued. I loved how long and weird the title was, and in my head, I KNEW I'd look cool carrying that book around.
In retrospect, I don't know if "cool" was the first thing that came to mind when people saw a fresh-faced kid reading about the trials and tribulations of being a middle-aged housewife on vacation.
My mom endured me BEGGING for this book for weeks. Finally, when we went on our semi-annual family road trip to Vancouver, my mom bought it for me. I was elated.
I read the whole thing in the car, and then read it again. I'm not entirely sure I understood the majority of what Bombeck was getting at, but it didn't matter, I laughed and laughed. I read passages over and over again, delighting in the odd ways she chose to describe normal things. For the first time, I started committing to memory how someone made something funny.
Honestly, I remember very few details of the book, I'm not even sure if I'd still find it funny — the first chapter was something about Papua New Guinea, something about cruise ship buffets and maternity underwear, how oblivious her husband was. It was all stuff about being a mother, a wife, and a woman, stuff I just didn't know all that much about when I was 10.
But it didn't matter. Something in the way Bombeck told a story made the aspiring storyteller in me giddy.
What was the first book that made you really, truly laugh out loud? What book, whether you totally understood it or not, made you think, "HOLY SHIT! I discovered funny"? What book made you realize how hilarious words could be?
Whatever you think of Erma Bombeck now, she's the woman that helped me discover funny.