Thursday, November 17, 2016

Book Review: The Mr. and Mrs. Happy Handbook

A Fair Trade Book

Title: The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook

Author: Steve Doocy

Author's Twitter page:

Date: 2006

Publisher: William Morrow

ISBN: 978-0-06-085405-8

Length: 245 pages

Quote: “This is not an advice book per se…what worked for me…may not work for you. I’ve more of a DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME book. We’ve already made almost every conceivable mistake and can save you the wear and tear of being an idiot yourself.”

Fox News personality Steve Doocy also claims that “when the Secret Service accidentally allowed us into the White House…Donald Rumsfeld…pronounced, ‘It looks like you married up, son.’ Then he asked my wife if she was interested in enlisting in the army.” Further, that “my wife and I joined an online dating service to prove that we were meant for each other…she’s still getting e-mailed photos of single men whose photos appear to have been taken at a skinhead convention. Luckily she still prefers bonehead to skinhead.”And, because he’s borrowed a few funny stories from other celebrity couple, “I will neither confirm nor deny whether the story about the can of Pam cooking spray and the rubber wedding dress is about Brian Kilmeade.”

A certain small but vociferous demographic is fairly overtly not meant to buy this book: “The world hasn’t changed that much…since fig leaves and Adams and Eves, although now there are also plenty of Adams and Steves, just not in this book.” For Doocy’s target audience, gender differences are absolute. “Men generally have direct, basic questions: ‘Will this make me gassy?’ ‘Are you sure this won’t show up as porn on the hotel bill?’ Women’s questions are more complicated and fraught with emotional subterfuge…‘Do I look fat in these pants?’” (Doocy recommends answering “No habla ingles.” He has a point. When we ask other women if something makes us look fatter than we normally look, we’re shopping. When we ask our men, we’re already feeling insecure, and we should probably not ask.)

Are you smiling at these quotes yet? If so, you should buy The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook because it’s funny. Some, however, will want it for the celebrity gossip. There's not a tremendous lot of that; what the book contains is also funny.

Doocy tells us that W Bush recommended that couples “Have the wedding on a Tuesday, so it can be a low-key affair. Have a day wedding—they are less likely to feature dancing…Keep the mothers out of it…Make it snappy,” and “to save time the [P]resident offered her the use of the medical staff at the white House to do the blood test.”The advice and offer were given to a White House staffer of Greek descent, whom W urged not to go to Greece for her very own big fat Greek wedding, but the bride did. “[O]nly my ninety-five-year-old grandmother understood a word. She loved it,” the bride told Doocy, who comments, “That’s the way it should be. The bride always has veto power.”

Geraldo Rivera, one year older than his father-in-law, reported being told by his best man (Cheech Marin), “Once she finally gets cranky at forty, you’ll be dead,” but Doocy still comments: “[I]n our hearts, we’re all the same age.”

Donald Trump, not yet a politician, told Doocy he would never get married without a prenuptial contract. In “the world of celebrity,” Doocy comments, “I’ve heard of prenups in which a…woman allowed…only one football game per Sunday. Some stars insist on mandatory sexual positions. And another image-conscious celebrity limited his wife’s weight…” Though Trump recommended contracts for every couple, Doocy warns, “Asking somebody to sign a prenup is dangerous. They will think you don’t trust them…never ask your intended to sign when they have” [any potential weapon] “in their hands,” and “Don’t be surprised if a casual ‘prenup talk’ results in not getting lucky any time soon.”Trump has recently claimed that his first two marriages ended peaceably, but he told Doocy, “I had a very rough time with Ivana. She went after me unbelievably. But I won. The prenup totally held up. With Marla, same thing. I won. If I didn’t have it” [the contract] “I’d have liens…on all my properties. I couldn’t do any of the things you have to do in business.”

With recent books in the “humor” genre, perhaps a more important question is “How offensive?” As this review has already documented, Doocy doesn’t need to talk about body parts or secretions to get a laugh…but he does talk about both. There’s an anecdote, short but not as short as it might be, about a tot who has misheard something about the facts of life and keeps “innocently” repeating a misinterpretation that sounds obscene. There are baby stories: “The baby responded with the biggest grin you’ve ever seen…but that was no smile.” There’s a story about a family gathering at a hotel swimming pool where one kid “accidentally drank too much pool water, and out came a rather substantial burp” which triggered reflexes, which triggered other reflexes, until not just one but six relatives’ “entire lunch made a surprise reappearance…Naturally, they did what any other decent self-respecting american family on vacation would do—they left without telling anybody.”

Well, there’s a lot more wit than gross-outs in this book, but apparently Doocy wants us to know that it’s not because, heavenforbidandfend, he has any oldfashioned mental hangups about gross-outs.

Personally, I don’t believe that even little children are really innocent when they repeat words that sound, or behaviors that look, obscene. Of course they don’t understand why these things make adults so uncomfortable. They do, however, understand that these things make adults uncomfortable. That is why they do them. Little children may not understand how sex works but they know all about torture. I know because I used to be a child. Part of the fascination does come from curiosity, the hope that if the kid shocks enough adults eventually one adult or another may blurt out something that explains the shock factor in a way the kid can understand. Part of it is about payback for all the indignities that being four years old entails. “Take away my crayons so I can’t draw on the walls? All right for you, Mommy-O…I’ve always wanted to know why grown-ups don’t want to talk about the symptoms of indigestion in dogs…at a funeral.”

The more vindictive the child is, the longer it stays interested in gross-outs. People who really never have made peace with their parents, even about the wall decoration issue, much less issues like toilets and babies, grow up to be those tiresome people who chide the people who can be funny without telling gross-out jokes.

Anyway The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook is quite funny; not political (despite the number of Republicans Doocy met while working with Fox), and not religious (although Doocy self-identifies as Catholic several times in the book).  Fluffy, frivolous, an easy book for anyone to laugh along with. If you grew up in a family you can relate to the humor in this book.

It's a Fair Trade Book. Buy a used copy here for $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment, and we'll send $1 per book to Doocy or the charity of his choice. (Separating the shipping charge means that if you want to add Tales from the Dad Side to the package, you send a total of $15 by postal money order to P.O. Box 322 and you pay the surcharge to the post office, or $16 by Paypal to the address Salolianigodagewi will send you and we pay the surcharge to Paypal; either way, Doocy or his charity would then receive $2.)