From the break-out star of BuzzFeed comes a collection of hilariously anguished essays chronicling awful and humiliating moments from his life so far, proving “the mantra of his life and career: being a human is hard work, so you may as well make your story funny when you can” (Bustle).
Matt Bellassai has no idea what he’s doing. Well, to be fair, he did become semi-Internet famous by getting drunk at work, making him a socially acceptable—nay—professional alcoholic. He’s got some things figured out. But the rest is all just a terrible, disgusting mess.
This is Matt’s book. Just to clarify, though, it is absolutely not a memoir; Matt is far too young to have done anything worth remembering (though he did win an actual People’s Choice Award for his BuzzFeed web series, “Whine About It,” which is pretty good, if you ask his mother). This is also most certainly not a book of advice; he is too woefully ill-prepared for life to offer anything in the way of counsel. Call this a collection of awful moments that led to his grumbling, blundering adulthood—a chronicle of little indignities that, when taken together, amount to a life of hilarious anguish.
With keen wit and plenty of self-deprecation, Matt reveals how hard it is to shed his past as the Midwest’s biggest nerd, and how he came out to his friends and family (the closet was a bit messy). Matt also wrestles with the humiliations of adulthood, like giving up on love in New York City, and combating the inner voice that tells him to say aloud all the things the rest of us are smart enough to keep to ourselves.
You probably don’t need this book, but let’s be honest—you do. Since you’re already reading, you might as well pull up a chair, grab your glass(es) of wine, and enjoy.
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About the Author
Matt Bellassai is a writer, stand-up comedian, and winner of the 2016 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Social Media Star, which remains his only real accomplishment, besides graduating fourth in his class in high school and losing an election for student body president in college. After the success of his BuzzFeed web series, “Whine About It,” Matt embarked on a solo stand-up career, performing to sold-out audiences around the United States and at least one disastrous not-sold-out audience at a casino in Palm Springs, California. He is the host of the podcast “Unhappy Hour.” Born and coddled in the suburbs of Chicago, he currently lives the poor gay man’s version of Sex and the City, with none of the sex, fashion, or friends. He will almost definitely die alone.
Read an Excerpt
Everything Is Awful
I was six years old when I last peed my pants.
I say this not to brag—although making it over twenty years without pissing my pants is actually quite an accomplishment, to be perfectly honest—but to bare my shame.
I was at my best friend Kenny’s house after school, drinking juice boxes and waging war with toy soldiers. You know, six-year-old stuff. As our battle wore on, my body slowly devolved into the cross-legged dance of the six-year-old in distress, writhing to console the mounting pressure of my bladder. As my soldiers fell in the heat of battle, I crept painfully closer to my limit.
I was dressed in my finest outfit for a school assembly earlier that day, some hideous combination of red, black, and white my mother thought was stylish in 1996. In retrospect, that outfit probably deserved to be pissed on. You can’t put a budding homosexual in an ill-conceived pattern and expect him not to urinate all over it. Regardless, there I was, standing in front of the toilet (I’d managed, at least, to make it to the bathroom), furiously struggling with the buttons of my fancy six-year-old pants. And yes, my mother chose not only a hideous pattern, but dress pants with buttons instead of a zipper, yet another choice that begged for this very outcome. I’d held my composure for as long as I could.
My hands helplessly fumbling at the buttons, I finally succumbed to sweet relief, soaking the plush rug beneath my feet, along with my socks, underwear, and those wretched pants, still buckled around my waist. Some days, when I'm standing in front of a toilet, I can still feel that rug beneath my feet, a moist phantom of my earliest humiliation.
I spent the next twenty minutes silently brooding in that bathroom. They were black pants, after all. Maybe I could get away with acting like this hadn’t happened. All I needed to do was spend the next two to three hours in damp agony, and as long as nobody looked too closely or inhaled too deeply, I could escape undetected.
But I spent too long plotting this out, and Kenny’s mom knocked on the door.
“Is everything all right in there?” (A question that someone only asks when everything is not all right in there.)
I confessed to the accident, and opened the door in surrender. I thought for a moment maybe she’d stick my nose in it, the way my own mother used to stick our dog’s nose in his pee when he pissed where he wasn’t supposed to. But she took the carpet from beneath me and handed me a pair of Kenny’s old shorts to wear for the rest of our playdate, my very own scarlet letter so that all could bear witness to my shame.
That evening, I left Kenny’s house in those shame shorts, carrying my own clothes in a plastic bag, with my head held high, just as Hester walked with her letter before me.
• • •
I couldn’t help but think that I somehow deserved what happened.
Earlier that day, my schoolmates and I were eating lunch in our classroom. The gymnasium we’d normally eat in was closed for the assembly, so we were eating at our desks instead, which felt intoxicating, like we were doing something forbidden. Everybody was already hopped up on assembly energy, but now we were especially animated, fidgeting in our seats, screaming across the room, tossing bits of food when the teacher turned her back.
Austin was the boy who sat behind me, a huge lug of a kid, nearly twice as tall as the rest of us and almost twice as thick. If this were a fairy tale, Austin would be the ogre child we’d all run from when he emerged from his swamp. And I’d feel bad about that comparison, but Austin was kind of an asshole, one of those boys who was friendly only until someone better came along, so I treated him with similar respect.
We were drinking from our cartons of milk, those tiny paper boxes that are nearly impossible to open, made of that kind of thin cardboard that gets immediately soggy after the first few sips. Austin was halfway through a long sip when I turned around and made a funny face—my repertoire of humor in first grade was limited to gurgling noises, knock-knock jokes, and funny faces—and he choked back a mouthful of spittle and milk with a furious scowl.
“Don’t!” he screamed with genuine anger. “These are my nice pants! I can’t ruin them!”
This made me laugh even harder.
Each time he’d pick up his carton, I’d turn around with my fingers halfway up my nose, my cheeks puffed out, and my eyes crossed, and Austin would cry back, “Stop! If I get milk on my pants, my mom’s gonna kill me!”
It went on like this for ten minutes, back and forth, attracting a small audience around us eagerly waiting to see if Austin would ever finish his milk. Until finally, I waited for him to take the largest possible gulp. I turned around at just the right moment with just the right combination of fingers stuffed into the right combination of face holes. Austin lurched forward for a moment to try to stop himself from reacting. And then, all at once, a violent stream of milk exploded from his nose, all down his sweater, and pooled momentarily in his pants before seeping into the fabric.
The audience around us erupted in screams of laughter, and Austin’s own outburst turned from a milky chortle to anguish as he stomped away from us, wailing in protest.
There are a few lessons to draw here, the first of which, of course, is that children are terrible human beings, and I was certainly no exception. (Though, in my defense, Austin grew up to be an even bigger dick, and once said, “I’m fat, but at least I’m not fat and gay like Matt Bellassai,” so I don’t regret ruining his dumb pants, and if I could, I’d go back, do it all again, and then smash his stupid face into that puddle of snotty lap milk before it seeped onto his tiny ogre dick.)
Most significantly, though, this was the first time I realized that comedy could be weaponized. I might not have been the fastest or strongest, but I could spin a joke or pull a face, and bring an oafish menace like Austin to his knees. And yes, perhaps I’d have to make myself look like a fool for the sake of a laugh, but at least it was my laugh in the end, even if I ended the day in a pair of someone else’s shorts, carrying my own soiled pants and underwear in a plastic Baggie.
• • •
I’m not one of those cool New Yorkers who lunched with Nora Ephron, but I like to pretend that I am. I imagine we would have sat for hours at a café drinking coffees, ordering extra croissants when we’d finished the two we’d each already eaten, and smearing them with extra high-fat butter. We’d have been wearing matching turtlenecks and scarves, discussing which wrinkle-reducing eye creams we’d discovered most recently, or which new dessert shop we would try next, or perhaps, after the sixth croissant, whether Angelina Jolie would ever find love again.
I moved to the Upper West Side in part because I idolized Nora’s rendition of it. My studio was only a closet compared to the apartments in the Apthorp, the famous complex down the street where Nora lived for some time. But still, I felt peppy and witty and sophisticated whenever I walked those streets, like a character in one of her movies, waiting for a young, hot Tom Hanks to reach for the same muffin as me at the bakery before sweeping me off my feet and paying off all of my student loan bills. It made my measly New York existence—my piles of takeout containers stacked in the corner, my bathroom without a bathroom door, the stench of burning meats that wrestled its way through the walls from the apartment next door—feel all the more like I was living the life of a scintillating two-time divorcée, a true woman of the city.
Most important, though, living like Nora made it all the easier to find the humor in all those terrible New York moments: discovering mold on the bottom of a breakfast sandwich I’d already half-eaten; falling down an entire subway staircase; dropping an entire container of hot food I’d carefully selected the second I stepped out of the Whole Foods in Union Square.
“Everything is copy,” Nora recalls her mother repeating, which she interpreted as a sort of battle cry. “When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you,” she wrote of her mother’s quote, “but when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it’s your laugh. So you become the hero rather than the victim of the joke.”
What follows in this book is a collection of all of my banana-slipping moments, retold here so that I may, perhaps, be the hero and not the victim of my plentiful embarrassments. Consider it a retelling of life’s little indignities, all the times I’ve stood in front of a toilet, desperately grasping at the buttons of my big-boy pants, when everything goes utterly awry, however cosmically deserved.
This book is my Baggie full of pee pants. And I hold it high as the urine-stained hero.
Table of Contents
Everything Is Awful, and Other Embarrassments 1
On Being an Adult, or I Have No Idea What I'm Doing 7
On the Trauma of Having (or Not Having) Hair 17
On Being "The Big Guy" 31
Rules for a Totally Healthy and Not-at-All-Medically-Concerning Lifestyle 41
On My Old and Fragile Body, or I Feel Bad About My Everything 45
On Near-Death Experiences, or That Time I Choked on a Taquito 53
A Brief List of Things That I Don't Know 65
On Michigan 69
On the Terrors of Nature 89
On Teenagers and Why They're the Worst 97
On My First 100 Days as President of the United States 113
On Terrible First Jobs 119
On My Troubled History with Fashion 143
On Being in the Closet, or Why You Should Never Fall in Love with Your Straight Best Friend 153
On Relationships, or Traits for My Ideal Man 177
On the Sticky Perils of Having a Roommate 181
On Living Alone in New York City 197
On Self-Sufficiency 207
On Keeping a Clean and Tidy Apartment 217
On Not Being the People's Choice 219
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Is it an Illinois thing? A suburb thing? A redhead thing? Italian? Just insane? I don't know what it is, but I felt like Matt's life was mine, and I too felt it was awful. Great read! I seriously read chapters to my friends, and they ignored me. (It was great)