I love this book because it might be the change we need right now, and the author’s post makes some very good point. Personally, I think laughter is misunderstood, sometimes. Maybe not misunderstood, but it gets to be this unidimensional things. You laugh because you’re happy, carefree, or feel good. Well, I laughed at my grandfather’s funeral, and he was MY person. Laughter can come from very dark places and can be very many things. Sometimes, it really is a medicine, other time is the beginning of hope. Through it all, this book is an unapologetic breath of fresh air.
Careful-ish – A Ridiculous Romp Through COVID Living As Seen through The Eyes Of Ridiculous People by Honey Parker released in October in the comedy, romance genre.
Overeating. Oversharing. Overindulging. Over it all. Video chats. Not enough distancing. Alcohol. What could go wrong? And what are people doing when they think nobody is watching? Meet six friends who are COVID quarantining in The Greatest City On Earth. They struggle to have a social life, pay the bills, hold onto relationships, not go nuts, wipe, find their new purpose and maybe, just maybe, still have sex. How can people in lockdown find so much drama?
All of these ridiculous characters have something in common: a standing weekly cocktail date that they are determined to maintain while being socially distant and, well, careful-ish.There’s the nice Jewish girl and fledgling TV news reporter whose boss won’t stop dumping her purse into her green reporter’s lap. There’s the African-American financial young gun who’s trying to not quit before he gets fired. His white-punk roommate is a mathematician turned chef whose out-of-work antics could drive anyone crazy. The hard-edged Chinese-American floral designer is getting into fights with the socially-distanced supermarket line standers outside her apartment window. Her post-hippie hairstylist/roommate/landlord (who now sports an article in front of her name) keeps getting a special “package” from the parcel delivery guy. And the token ne’er-do-well from the Middle East is setting up an obstacle course in his penthouse apartment. Can he get himself on that ninja warrior show?
Yes, they’re all ridiculous. But in a pandemic lockdown, who isn’t? Who is? And who’s to judge…
The Joy’s Apartment
The door to The Joy ’s apartment flings open so hard, it slams into the wall. Oops. Kimi is standing there, loaded down with a suitcase, two backpacks and an arm full of dying flowers. “Sorry.”
The Joy is standing in the kitchen area. She looks up from her tea mug. Her Chelsea brownstone apartment is eclectic, with lots of color and odd knick-knacks. Really odd. Like the nude mannequin missing its torso. Just limbs and a head, all suspended in their proper place. The “open space” is a clutter fest. Yet, in its odd way, everything seems to have a place.
In her self-protective way, Kimi announces, “This is just for a little bit.”
The Joy says “Lady, you can stay as long as you need to…or a month.”
Kimi scans the apartment, thrown by the visual overwhelm. And perhaps the lack of cleanliness. Kimi carefully picks up a strange object and studies it. It’s a white, baby doll body with a black baby doll head.
The Joy rushes over. “That can’t be moved…or touched.”
Kimi drops the doll. “Sorry. Didn’t know.”
The Joy carefully picks up the doll and whispers in its ear, “Don’t worry, Pinchy. You’re fine.” She puts the doll back in her place and looks at Kimi. “It’s all part of my juju.”
“My juju. Everything manages a particular energy in the place it’s in. You move a piece, you move the energy.”
“So I shouldn’t touch anything.”
The Joy snaps right back to her regular level of happy. “That works for me.”
Something in a corner falls over and breaks. Kimi’s head snaps around. “What the hell was that? Is this place haunted? I can’t move into a haunted place.”
“Wouldn’t that be cool? No, that was The Fred, my cat.”
“Well, the cat just monkeyed with your juju.”
“It’s OK. We needed an energy shift.”
“So when the cat moves something, energy shift. Got it. So much to learn. Where should I put my stuff?”
The Joy heads to a corner of the apartment. “I laid out this whole corner for you.” She waves Kimi over. “Come here. Over here.”
After a long pause, Kimi slowly makes her way through the room, careful not to touch anything. The Joy beams with excitement. Kimi’s new corner has a La-Z-Boy, a frilly lamp, a battered night stand and a mini fridge with a scarf over it. The Joy’s eyes widen. “How about this?”
Kimi takes it in and slowly nods. “A girl could get spoiled.”
Honey Parker has been writing, writing, writing for decades, decades, decades.
She’s written and sold several screenplays which, as per Hollywood tradition, are circling various levels of that place known as Development Hell. A veteran advertising writer and creative director for big agencies in New York and Los Angeles, she eventually co-founded her own creative shop in Park City, Utah. Somewhere in the middle of all that, Honey began doing standup comedy in clubs and on TV, and once claimed the title Funniest Person In Advertising. Her greatest disappointment is that the title came with neither a sash nor cash.
Honey is married to her best friend and business partner, Blaine Parker. Or, as Honey’s father refers to him, “The man who took her off the market.” In their spare time, Honey & Blaine run an ad agency, speak to small-business owners around the globe about profitable branding, and co-host the weekly podcast, CoupleCo: Working With Your Spouse For Fun & Profit. As the most amateur of athletes, they’ve raced together in full and half marathons and triathlons. Honey’s other “accomplishments” sparring with the World Female Boxing champ, a feat for which Honey is most proud that she neither bled nor cried.
Honey is currently based in Park City, Utah where life could be much, much worse.
Is It Okay To Laugh Now?
Since May of 2020, I’ve been asking myself this question repeatedly. That’s when I first started writing Careful-ish: A Ridiculous Romp Through COVID Living As Seen Through The Eyes Of Ridiculous People.
Is it OK to focus on the lighter side of our journey through lockdown? Is it OK to avoid the politics and the science and just shine a light on what it’s like to be human and off kilter?
And, even more recently, it was time to start grappling with this question again as I began writing the sequel. The timeline of Daughter Of Careful-ish spans the presidential election and post-election challenges. Avoiding politics and staying in the zone of being humans in this great nation was even harder. But was it right?
The only I answer I keep coming back to is an all caps: YES.
Not only is it okay to laugh right now, it’s imperative.
So many of us have been through so much. We have friends in the food service industry who have been though the mill. Will their businesses survive? And if they do, will they still be viable?
A good friend who’s a doctor has been on the frontlines, doing ER rotations in Los Angeles. She has shared some of the hardships she’s seen. It’s crazy.
Then, there are those of us who’ve lost a parent during COVID, myself included. It’s so damned hard.
How do we get through today and on to tomorrow?
In our house, we laugh. My husband and I laugh every day. And no, not that demonic laughter you hear from the evil scientist in a horror film. We’re talking real, “That was damn funny” laughter.
That also happens to be how I grew up. Have you ever met someone from a musical family? After dinner, they all pull out an instrument, sit in a circle and start playing? Well, in my family, the music was being funny. My family would pull out the wit and start laughing. Laughter was a normal part of the speech pattern of our home.
Laughter is something I treasure.
Back in late April, my book-club friends in LA were meeting on a Zoom call and I sat in. My mother had recently passed away. Lockdown made it impossible to have a funeral, or for me to be with my father. So, it was a pleasure getting on a call with these fantastic women and laughing. (Yes, cocktails were involved.) It made me feel like myself again. My favorite part of myself, in fact. We all laughed so hard we cried. It was a gift, cleansing and positive.
Let me be clear, that episode gave me no delusions that everything in my life would now be fixed. But all that laughter gave me the energy to press on. It gave me balance.
Since then, each moment of laughter has helped me cope. That, and writing Careful-ish. It became like having an internal gyroscope keeping me upright and stable.
Interestingly, once the characters began developing and started writing jokes for themselves, it was even more energizing.
The bonus is that sharing Careful-ish has proven equally stabilizing for readers.
Since my mom passed, I talk to my father every day. This man who lost the love of his life is living alone, social distancing, and waiting for a shot in the arm. And not every day, but close to it, he finds a way to laugh on our calls. (Honestly, his material’s not bad. For example, me: “Hey, the Eagles beat the Giants yesterday!” Him: “I hate to tell ya, but I could go out, get 10 strangers and beat the Giants.”) And deep down, my dad knows the laughter is going to help him make it through another day.
Laughter equals hope.
There are plenty of people covering the hard stuff. And trust me, I have an opinion on it all. My husband gets an earful. But you don’t need to hear it. Not from me. I can serve a different purpose, one I believe I’m better suited to.
So, I say yes. Laughter is a must.
Even on my darkest days, laughter has helped me. I hope it helps you too. (It’s free, ya know.) Cheers, and stay Careful-ish out there.