So. . . on Sunday morning I get up at 4:30 for a long, coast-to-coast flight home. Having already finished reading the books I had packed for the trip, I needed something to do other than Sudoku on the marathon trip home. I spot a bookstore opening up in the Portland airport and I head in for 15 minutes of browsing the shelves and hoping that something catches my eye. It does! There on the bottom shelf is a book titled “Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence” by Paul Feig, the creation of the TV series “Freaks and Geeks.” I’d love to be able to tell you that it was how the title related to my vocation that grabbed my attention. But I have to be honest. I was in one of those moods where I knew that reading this book would be like jumping into a time machine and heading back into my own childhood. So, I picked it up. Then, I couldn’t put it down.
I’ve read lots of books over the course of my life. Many of them have been funny. I’ve read some of those funny books on airplanes. Sometimes I’ve cracked a little smile. Never have I laughed out loud. . . over, and over, and over again like I did on Sunday.
It starts with Feig’s recounting how his last name destined him to a childhood of taunts and nicknames. I laughed. . . not at him. . . but with him. I had a bunch of neighborhood kids morph the combination of my first and last name from “Walter Mueller” to Watermelon. By the time I was 13, there might have been kids in my neighborhood who thought my real name was “Mel” (short for “Melon,” which was short for “Watermelon.”) And from there, this book was all uphill. . . uphill, that is, it terms of getting funnier and funnier with each turn of the page. He hits on everything from the culture of vomit in elementary school, to having a crush on your second grade teacher, to the lunchroom, to sharing a bottle of soda, to the strange things that happen to our bodies, to junior high gym class, to girls, to. . . well, you name it.
I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make this book required reading for Doctoral students, but I can recommend it. In a day and age when most of what we read about adolescence leaves us discouraged, it’s nice to be able to pick up a book by someone who struggled like the rest of us, but somehow made it through with a great sense of humor and some awfully funny memories!
I’m not sure everyone will find this book as funny as I did. Maybe I was just in the right mood. But for anyone who grew up male and experienced their childhood and adolescence in the 60s and 70s, then this is one funny read.