Way to Go, Smith

Way to Go, Smith

3.5 2
by Bob Smith, Balvis Rubess

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A multiple-week Advocate bestseller, Openly Bob won the Lambda Literary Award and unanimous applause from reviewers across the country. Bob Smith's observations on life as a happily adjusted gay man offered a refreshingly witty dose of nineties reality. Now, after breaking up with his longtime boyfriend, Tom, Bob takes us back to figure out where all the trouble began… See more details below


A multiple-week Advocate bestseller, Openly Bob won the Lambda Literary Award and unanimous applause from reviewers across the country. Bob Smith's observations on life as a happily adjusted gay man offered a refreshingly witty dose of nineties reality. Now, after breaking up with his longtime boyfriend, Tom, Bob takes us back to figure out where all the trouble began--his hilarious, hyper-normal (and hyper-strange) family life. Here you'll meet Bob's comically unsympathetic grandmother, who treats his carsickness by stuffing him between his brothers in the backseat: "Bob only throws up because he's near a window and he can." You'll hear about his first teacher crush: "McGaffin was an odd mix of manly and fey; his five o'clock shadow could plunge a room into darkness and yet his handwriting was better than the samples offered in our textbooks." And you'll witness Bob's first brush with fame: His reaction to health filmstrips made him the only boy in the fourth grade who could faint from the sitting position. Moving, ironic, and tinged with recognition, Bob's new collection is at once bittersweet nostalgic fun and a testament to the unquestionable gifts on a highly original comic writer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This second installment in gay comedian Bob Smith's autobiography (Openly Bob was published in 1997) features the occasional laugh-out-loud line and twinge of insight, but for the most part reads like a series of stand-up routines that never made it to the stage. While focusing on the minutiae of Smith's growing up, his quirky family, his coming out and his falling in love with a wonderful man named Tom, Smith's first book sustained a sprightly, entertaining tone. Here Tom and Bob have just broken up. Although Smith's humor is, as usual, tinged with rue (when his mother asks if Tom left him for another man, he notes, "Boy, did that piss me off. My mother still didn't think that I was capable of ruining a ten-year relationship all by myself"), the material is not very compelling. Smith is best when detailing small emotional moments: his descriptions of bonding with his widowed mother over being single have a resonance missing from the rest of the book. All too often, he relies on the old one-two style of comic timing, which works on the stage but feels weak on the page ("When my grandmother made sandwiches, she always buttered the bread first, which explained why she was always on a diet"). In relating his attempts at dating, his memories of his first crushes and how he finally met someone he likes, Smith captures some telling moments in the process of reclaiming one's sexual self after the loss of a relationship, but for the most part does not re-create the zest or emotional warmth of his first book. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.06(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Wolf Whistling in the Dark

Tom moved out in December. When I made spaghetti for the first time after he left, I discovered that he had taken the large metal serving spoon and had left me with the large metal slotted serving spoon. Smiling at his attempt to be scrupulously fair, I asked myself, Why did he split up the set? Then my smile faded as I fruitlessly searched in the drawer for a ladle. Feeling slightly annoyed I thought, But he took the better spoon. He took the all-purpose spoon. How am I supposed to use a slotted spoon with spaghetti sauce?

After finding a wooden spoon, I reached for the salt, overcome by the fear that I would find it gone and the pepper shaker in tears. I envisioned Tom gathering our belongings together and then painstakingly dividing the coupled possessions as he prepared to move out. As the TV and VCR begged us to reconsider, Tom would have ignored their cries of protest while separating the oil cruet from the vinegar cruet. When a childless couple divorces, it's always the possessions that suffer the most.

If I had called him on it, Tom would have reminded me, "Bob, I asked you about the kitchen stuff and you told me to divide everything fairly. You didn't want to be bothered-you were too busy writing. You left it all up to me." Tom was right. I hate to be bothered. At times I'm a small unfriendly nation, a principality smaller than Monaco, that takes inspiration from the early flags of the American colonists which featured a rattlesnake and the motto Don't Tread on Me. The national emblem of my country is a squashed mosquito and my motto is Don't Bother Me.

Inmy search for a ladle I was pleased to find that Tom had taken the spaghetti tweezer, a one-piece aluminum serving utensil with two long arms that ends in spatulate hands with stubby fingers. It looks like a prosthetic device for chefs who have lost an arm in a mincing accident. The spaghetti tweezer is just an overbred fork with the same drawbacks as an overbred dog or cat. It has a designer pedigree but is riddled with inherent flaws that made its upkeep as labor-intensive as owning an Irish setter with a leaky bladder.

Making excuses for the spaghetti tweezer as if it was a beloved pet, Tom would admit. "Bob, you just have to get the hang of it." To which I would reply, "I don't want to have to read a manual to learn how to operate a simple kitchen utensil." Whenever Tom drained pasta in the sink, it would irritate me when he opened a drawer to look for the spaghetti tweezer, especially if he already had a fork in his hand. It was almost like the spaghetti tweezer needed to be taken out of its kennel for some exercise. Primarily I resented the spaghetti tweezer because while Tom got to play with it, I was the one who had to take care of it.

Since Tom likes to cook-an assumption the lazier person in the relationship always makes about the person who's fixing his dinner-he usually prepared dinner and I usually washed the dishes. Washing the spaghetti tweezer was a chore because the prongs become clotted with gunk that has the adhesive qualities of Super Glue.

I've never believed the idea that most gay men can be neatly divided into tops and bottoms in the bedroom, but Tom was definitely a kitchen top and I was clearly a kitchen bottom. (A porn movie for couples in long-term relationships should always include this line of dialogue: "I'm going to make a big mess and you're going to clean it up! Yeah, clean up my big mess!")

When Tom moved out, he departed with the replacement spaghetti tweezer, as I had deliberately thrown out the first one. We had fought about something that day; I honestly can't remember exactly what, or why I wanted to punish him, but I can vividly recall my retaliation. There are instances of my own adult immaturity that remain as clear in my mind as if they were significant childhood memories. Hours after our quarrel, as I scrubbed the starch-encrusted tines of the spaghetti tweezer, the scouring pad kept catching again and again. Suddenly I became incensed and tossed the stupid thing in the trash can. The vehemence of my reaction surprised me, but I've found that in the limbo dance of pettiness, I'm always able to go a little bit lower.

Copyright � 1999 Bob Smith

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