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Life is full of funny stuff

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily

You gotta love a guy who’s been booted off Match.com three times.

At least someone should.

In his latest tour de force, “Watching Grandma Circle the Drain,” local author Allen Smith takes a hilarious look at the stuff of life: dating, sex, technology, entertainment, health and fitness, money, pet peeves, fast food, getting old and solving problems.

Smith asks the questions without pretending for a minute to have any solutions. He’s also the author of “Ski Instructors Confidential,” and he didn’t answer many questions in that one either, but he had a great time asking the questions.

“There’s a lot to laugh about in life,” Smith said.

“Watching Grandma Circle the Drain” is a series (not serious) of essaid and observations, written in bite-sized vignettes.

“Sometimes I look at it and wonder, ‘How did I come up with THAT?!?'” Smith laughed. “I’m in the shower when I get all my good ideas.”

Like most humorists, he’s at his best when serious topics cry out to be lampooned.

This is a book for our time.

Material usually springs from some kind of frustration. Most of the stories are things that happen to him.

If you want to be single for life, try his online dating tips in “Expelled from Match.com.”

The essaid are titled things like: “The Breast of Times,” “The Great Sperm Audition,” “Watching Grandma Circle the Drain” and “Intercourse and Horneytown.”

“All the dating stories really happened to me,” Smith said.

His Match.com profile had the customer service rep howling with laughter, just before she kicked him off.

“Isn’t that what women want: a man with a sense of humor?” Smith asks.

He spent an evening reading profiles and they all say the same sort of absurd stuff … “I love being inside watching movies … I’m an outdoors person.”

So, to make himself stand out from the crowd, he tried this sort of thing:

“I enjoy interesting outdoor activities like sneaking up on bears and startling skunks.”

And …

“I was born the only Jewish boy in a home full of Mormon women. My mother told me I was conceived in the back seat of a 1943 Peugeot station wagon on her prom night.

Since that time, I’ve become inexplicably drawn to used car salesmen and the smell of cheap upholstery.”

And …

“I was baptized as a Buddhist, circumcised by a freelance Mohel and spent the first 10 years of my life sequestered in a Catholic confessional, so I consider myself religious but not spiritual.”

“Only someone with a good sense of humor would answer it,” he said.

He had six dates from that profile, and ended up living with one of the women for a winter.

‘Me No Speak Good Mexican’

The book leads off with “Me No Speak Good Mexican,” Smith describes his struggle to learn Spanish – even after sitting through four years of college classes and wasting a summer in Mexico.

The problem, Smith said, is that repeating lines out of my workbook like, “Maria esta viendo la television en la casa” (Maria is watching television in the house.) didn’t seem nearly as useful as, “Quisiera mirar abajo la blusa de esa muchacha.” (I’d like to look down that girl’s blouse.”)

Then there’s this phrase so handy for the ski mountain, “jPare o usted se estrellara y matarse con ese cuarto de bano en el aire libre!” (Stop or you’ll crash into that outhouse and kill yourself!).

And it can be a little frustrating when you want to ask, “When do you think the middle class will see signs of improvement in the economic slowdown?” but instead come out with something like, “Can I put my suitcase in your virgin daughter’s ear?”

“For Better or Worse, Boston Marries Himself” is a story in which the subject of that story marries himself, reasoning that no one knows or loves himself better than he does, then divorces himself for irreconcilable difference, suspecting himself of running around on himself.

“Watching Grandma Circle the Drain” is Smith’s second book. He came out with “Ski Instructors Confidential,” in February 2005. It’s in its second printing and remains a local favorite. It is a collection of stories from professional ski instructors around the world, and stretches back to the 1940s.

“This isn’t like that. It has a much wider appeal on lots of topics,” Smith said.


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