Entertainment » Books

I Don’t Care About Your Band

by Kyle Thomas Smith
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Feb 2, 2010
I Don’t Care About Your Band

Have you ever been turned off by someone who came on so hip and heavy, only to adore them soon after they dropped their insufferable shtick? That's the kind of relationship I had with Julie Klausner's book I Don't Care About Your Band, which tracks Klausner's never-improving love life from ages 15 to 30. Klausner is a gifted writer, comedienne and performance artist who's at her best when evincing her vulnerabilities and who's at her absolute worst when copping a Sarah Silverman/latter-day Margaret Cho, ain't-I-one-edgy-bitch bluster. Both sides come out in full style in this tell-all dating memoir, which goes from bothersome to much, much better (in delivery, if not mood) as the author ages alongside her story.

In some ways, Klausner offers I Don't Care About Your Band as a kind of corollary to Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo's He's Just Not That Into You, the 2004 mega-bestseller whose curt title and philosophy, Klausner feels, offer scant consolation to the glass-hearted women (and gay guys) who seek love's fortunes but perennially find themselves alone after wild nights - sometimes transfixed by the sight of the hooker money that last night's Don Juan left on the dresser. Nothing wrong with that! Who among us hasn't raged at the sight of hooker money on our dressers? Problem is: her stories indicate that she's fallen for just about every trick that Behrendt and Tuccuillo warn about, though she still reserves the right to bitch.

You practically have to have a PhD in contemporary pop culture to pick up on all of Klausner's allusions, but her more standard references hit the spot for even us generalists. For instance, she astutely observes that she and many other women are tragically playing the part of Miss Piggy in a world of Kermits. Klausner notes that Miss Piggy was "hugely feminine, boldly ambitious and hilariously violent"...and forever pining for her fair Kermie. Meanwhile, instead of surrendering to Piggy's overtures, Kermit would repair to a faraway lily pad, where he could strum his guitar like a goddamned hipster or run full-speed away from Piggy's amorous clutches like the commitment-phobes infesting Julie Klausner and Carrie Bradshaw's New York. From a young age, Miss Piggy became Klausner's reigning archetype as she embarked on her odyssey through the tantalizing realm of men who wouldn't meet her adoration halfway: "Just as I strove to emulate Piggy - resplendent in feather boas, lavender mules and rings over opera gloves - I wonder how many guys from my generation looked to Kermit as an example of the coolest guy in the room."

In these passages, where she shows the soft of her belly and details her daredevil missions to find the One, Klausner is a sympathetic narrator.

Yet, especially in the first half of the book, Klausner goes for outré gold but ends up sounding like Samantha Jones trying to shock the ladies at brunch. She says of her "outsider" status at her hippy high school in Scarsdale: "Nobody in their right mind would have tried to fuck my mouth; they'd be too scared of getting their dicks bitten off." Or how about this bit where the with-it Jewess gets all contrarian about the Holocaust: "[He remembered] how I made a joke about the Holocaust being fake....because the Holocaust is totally fake and most of the time people think I'm joking about it." She never qualifies this statement, but what's important is that "he'd gotten me onto the floor, flipped me over to all fours, pushed my panties to the side and started aggressively lapping my ass with his tongue like he'd been thinking about doing it for the last six years." These moments are more likely to make you roll your eyes than wince at her oh-so alarming candor, which is unfortunate since Klausner's wry wit is so much better than her bad-ass posturing.

In fact, in many ways, Klausner picks up where Sex & The City (the series, not the book) left off by showcasing the many breeds of guy a sexually adventurous young woman is likely encounter en route to settling down. She deftly describes the feckless Brooklyn hipster, who fronts as a sensitive artist but treats his girlfriend like a groupie; the play-baby whose life is in ruins at 40 by dint of his own passivity and capriciousness; the two-timing sociopath who feels sorry for himself for messing up his life and everyone else's; the Vegan who likes the taste of his own semen; the long-distance romance with a MySpace Romeo who makes no real effort to move to your town despite your pleading; the cultural illiterate who you think might have more redeeming qualities; the guy who gives you an STD and blames it on you for being the kind of slut who'd sleep with someone like him; and of course the string of one-nighters who don't call, text or email the next day.

Fortunately, now that she's hit her thirties and is actually enjoying a long-term relationship, Klausner has turned a corner in her life. She suggests that by the time you've reached her age and have taken enough scrapes: "You don't feel compelled to go out with guys who smell like bad news, and you don't have to do things you know will not be fun, like hauling your ass to a gig for some band you've never heard of so you can spend three hours on your feet, switching your purse from shoulder to shoulder." It's also at this point that one comes to the crux of self-respect: "[Y]ou have to decide if you want to keep going out with guys who don't think you're great, or if you like yourself enough to hang out on your own." Eureka! But isn't that what Behrendt and Tuccillo kept saying in "He's Just Not that Into You?"

Kyle Thomas Smith is author of the novel 85A (Bascom Hill, 2010). He lives in Brooklyn with his husband and two cats.


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