Smacking your head on a low-hanging beam. Ordering an expensive dinner and forgetting your wallet. Neglecting to notice the gaping hole in the crotch of your pants.
Some things just aren’t funny until they’re over. Looong over. And then they’re hilarious.
Bad dates and god-awful ex-boyfriends are like that. They make us curse, cringe, cry … and ultimately leave us no choice but to cackle like maniacs.
That’s how I feel now about the guy I once dated who was hot for my mom. And also the one who compulsively stole pens from drugstores.
And it’s how friends Jessica Hill and Krishna Devine felt after enduring ugly breakups a few years back.
“We were sitting around having cocktails, dissecting our dating experiences, and comparing notes,” Devine recalls. “And we said, ‘We’re ready to get over this. It happened, but we’re going to find the funny part of it and move on.'”
So the gals coauthored a book, Why He’s My Ex, a snappy and acerbic new picture book cataloging the heinous-cum-hilarious things men do that make them Mr. Wrong. They’ll sign the book at 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 26 at Chaucer’s bookstore.
Billed as the “definitive breakup pictorial,” the hardcover uses posed dolls, elaborate mini-sets, and itty-bitty props to illustrate each disastrous dating misstep.
Thus is “He had corpse breath” represented by a tiny, Barbie-sized coffin, and “He called to ask me to bail him out of jail” rendered with a stiff doll in an orange jumpsuit chillaxing on a prison cot. I’m particularly fond of a close-up depicting a fellow who frequents sketchy massage parlors.
The breakup stories are all true. When word spread that the Los Angeles-based authors wanted bad-boyfriend tales, friends and friends-of-friends submitted close to 1,000 funny and so-unfunny-they’re-funny stories: “He cried after sex.” “He always packed a gun.” “He asked me to cosign on his new strip club.”
It took more than a year for the authors, who both work in film, to create all the diminutive sets. The photo shoots, shot in Devine’s cramped apartment, took up to 10 hours each.
“I spent a whole day trying to figure out how to make a mini-walker for the woman in the ‘He’s mean to old people’ scene,” says Devine, who finally built it out of balsa wood, silver paint, gaffer’s tape, and glue.
But if the project was tedious, it was cathartic, too. “It wound up being really fun because we had to be so imaginative. We spent so much time laughing and giggling over little stuff,” Devine says. “Jessica would call and say, ‘I’m coming over! I found tiny lingerie!’ And we’d have a tiny lingerie party.”
Guests at the local signing will get to see the actual dollhouse-scale sets from two of the book’s scenes: “He didn’t visit me when I was in the hospital” and “He sat on my cat and killed it.” They can also have their photo taken with a six-foot boyfriend cutout.
Devine insists she and Hill mean no disrespect to guys in general. “It’s not a man-hater book,” she says. “The whole point was we just wanted women to feel good. We hoped they could read this and relate, or know someone who could relate. So when they pick it up and start laughing, our job is done.”
Both women have cautiously reentered the dating world. “Jessica and I have recently met new boyfriend candidates,” says Devine—who’s also at work on a follow-up book: “Why She’s My Ex.”
“It’s stories from guys,” she says, “which are way crazier. It’s going to be hard to keep it funny, actually. Oh, my gosh, women are nuts. “