The book started as a title and a first chapter. It’s not the best reason to start writing a book, I grant you, but it does explain a few things–namely, the title and the first chapter. (Post Script: This is chapter 2…. I’m saving Chapter 1 for the REAL book)
My original plan had 152 pages, 151 of which were blank. It had a red cover with white lettering and I was going to change my name to John Collins – that way, my book would be on the shelf beside Jim Collins’ Good to Great. It would give readers quite the alternative. No matter how badly my day had gone, the thought of my book sitting in the store right beside his always made me laugh out loud. Some days, laughter is the only link to sanity, and unfortunately, I was having those days a lot.
To be honest with you (which may be a bit early in our relationship), I didn’t realize that my journey from where I was to where I am today would have changed me so completely – it turns out, the things they don’t teach you in business school can fill a book.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Two years ago, I had only a title, a first chapter and my mental image of my imaginary best friend John Collins. Completely by accident, I discovered that a side benefit of writing a book, or at the very least pretending to write one, was that I could credibly call myself an author (credibility is important, or so I’m told by those who are credible). As it turns out, it is far easier to talk with people at parties when you introduce yourself as an author writing a book instead of as an engineer with an MBA. Both come across as credible people, but the latter tends to be like saying you have a contagious disease that, while aggressive and obnoxious, is manageable most of the time.
As an author, I was interesting. The things I said were made more interesting, and most importantly, I developed an eccentric catch phrase: “This…. will be a chapter in my book!” It was great at parties and I found it to be significantly less dangerous than lighting alcohol in my mouth on fire while a stranger sprinkled cinnamon over the flame, creating the illusion of a volcano. Before becoming an “author”, a flamboyant party trick was standard fare – on especially difficult nights with people who didn’t appreciate my “uniqueness”, I would drop into the splits and perform the human worm across the room for good measure. It certainly livens up a wedding of mostly Spanish speaking guests who spent most of the night listening to speeches they didn’t understand. (Jarrett, I now admit that beginning to strip was a little bit over the top- I’m sorry)
Overall, I found the catch phrase to be far less exhausting and more universally effective at breaking tension, punctuating an event and, most importantly, not ending up in the hospital with a damaged ACL, explaining to a doctor why a grown man was doing the splits at a party.
Ah, the catch phrase. You would be surprised how nice it is to have a catch phrase.
No matter the circumstance, it fits. And amazingly, having one can apparently give you a chance to be the President of the United States. Ask one of your children to pass you the remote and they can’t find it. “You’re fired!” Works perfectly. “Let’s go for a hike.” “You’re fired!”
That’s why they call it a catch phrase.
Again, extremely useful. You can use it while adding some exotic spice to food. Or, less conventional but still extremely effective, you can use it while you vacuum the carpet and your spouse is watching. “Bam!!” Always good for a smile (even though it doesn’t make any sense) no matter how much trouble you got into before you started vacuuming.
But let’s not get carried away. Events don’t always warrant a chapter, so saying it is a bit of an exaggeration.
A person performing Madame Butterfly, loudly, on a public bus while doing an interpretive dance would only get a sentence.
A person on an airplane, twelve rows back, snoring so loudly that the entire plane could hear, would warrant a paragraph. Quite literally, everyone on the plane would shudder in surprise every thirty seconds or so and this man continued to snore. I am not kidding you. I can’t make this up. Until I heard it, it had never occurred to me that this would be possible. It sounded like a pig eating a monkey and it is a sound that will haunt me every day until the day I die.
Being an author, I turned to the person sitting beside me and said “This will be a chapter in my book.” Having not ever spoken to her before, she looked puzzled, reflecting on the event that led to the statement I had made.
“What’s your book about?”
“What the F@&K is Wrong with Everyone Else.”
“Sounds like an interesting book.”