Oh my goodness, this was a fun read. I had no idea who Jessi Klein even was before I read this, but a bookish friend’s positive review on Goodreads made me add her memoir You’ll Grow Out Of It to my TBR. (Thanks, Eve!) I don’t watch Amy Schumer’s show, of which Klein is head writer and executive producer. But it didn’t matter one bit as I raced through these funny, slightly raunchy essays on growing up, living, and loving as a cishet Jewish woman in America. I’m the target audience for this book, I think – I’m two years younger than Klein (we’re solidly Gen X) and reading these essays made me feel like I’d found an equally neurotic, self-deprecating, more hilarious kindred spirit.
Let me share some of my favorite passages with you:
On the three style options available to women as they grow older – 1) You were a Supermodel, 2) You are Rich, and 3) You’re an Eccentric:
This is the last option. And it will be my option. We see these women all the time. They’re not leaning on beauty, and they’re not leaning on money. They’re leaning on character. They wear hot pink tights and high-top sneakers. They wear big glasses and pillbox hats. They looked like they might have once worked at Interview even though they didn’t. Or they look like Betsey Johnson back in the 1980s, but now here in the present and much older. Thy’re memorable and fun. They’re kooky old ladies. When I see them, I feel a little pulse of happiness that maybe I won’t be so sad losing the little dollop of prettiness I was allotted. That maybe the secret to getting old and feeling okay is just buying an enormous silly hat and making people smile when they look at you because they think you’re having a good time.
But maybe that’s not what the hat is about. Maybe the real issue is not so much making other people think you’re having a super-fun time creeping toward death; it’s simply being seen. This is the lament of older women, and ultimately of all old people – that you become invisible. It is especially hard for women, though, whose entire lives have been spend spinning around the idea that if no one is staring at you, you’ve somehow failed. Maybe the silly hat is really a Hail Mary to get people to look at you, no matter the reason.
On the two types of women, Poodles vs. Wolves:
Wolves need to eat more than poodles do (both larger amounts and more frequently.) Wolves wear lip balm. Wolves can’t deal with thongs. Wolves sweat a lot. Wolves are funny. Wolves show up ten minutes early to everything and are always the first ones there and then have to fake a conversation on their cell phone so they look like they know other human beings on this earth. Wolves usually own two bras total, and neither of them matched their tattered old Gap underwear. Wolves lose their virginity during their junior year of college at the very earliest.
On natural childbirth vs. getting an epidural:
But how often do people really want women to be or do anything “natural?”
It seems to me the answer is almost never. In fact, almost everything “natural” about women is considered pretty fucking horrific. Hairy legs and armpits? Please shave, you furry beast. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to remove your pubic hair, that’s also an abomination. Do you have hips and cellulite? Please go hide in the very back of your show closet and turn the light off and stay there until someone tells you to come out (no one will tell you to come out.)
It’s interesting that no one cares very much about women doing anything “naturally” until it involves them being in excruciating pain.
No one ever asks a man if he’s having a “natural root canal.” No one ever asks if a man is having a “natural vasectomy.”
GET THE EPIDURAL.
I read some negative Goodreads reviews of this that reference Klein’s obvious privilege, and yes, she does talk often about visiting spas and fancy stores, but that didn’t bother me for some reason. I mean, I figure someone who’s the head writer of Inside Amy Schumer is going to be buying top end skin care products. Honestly, if I were a successful, famous comedy writer, I’d be buying $250 jars of La Mer too. Klein struck me as knowing that all the stuff she gets to do now is slightly crazy but she’s also kind of enjoying it. I don’t begrudge her that. I appreciated her honesty and her self-deprecating, relatable humor about her own awkwardness in all things “feminine.”
This was when I learned one of the biggest secrets of being a women, which is that most of the time, we don’t feel like we’re women at all.
If you’re a fan of female comedian memoirists, like Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler, you’ll probably enjoy You’ll Grow Out Of It. It’s a funny, somewhat profane, sometimes poignant essay collection that I’m glad I took a chance on.