Monday, November 8, 2010
Book #47 of 2010: Gunn's Golden Rules; Life's Little Lessons for Making it Work.
It is much better than what you might expect from a 'celebrity' 'life lessons' book, but of course it is: it's Tim Gunn! He's fabulous!
In addition to containing actual good advice for people who want to be well-mannered and well-regarded (Take the high road. Don't drop in. Be nice to waiters. There should be a lot more thank-yous. And, of course, make it work!), there are also lots of amusing and/or inspirational stories from his life.
My favorite is this: Tim Gunn's father was the ghost writer for J. Edgar Hoover. Tim's family went on the FBI tour each year, including 1961, when Tim was 8. That year, Tim's dad asked him if he'd like to meet Vivian Vance (from I Love Lucy), who happened to be visiting Hoover. So, they went into Hoover's office and met her and chatted a bit. Year later, Tim wonders why Hoover wasn't there in the room, too. He consults experts on Vivian Vance and Hoover and none of them know of a meeting between them. "I'm not saying at the age of eight I definitely met J. Edgar Hoover at his office in the FBI wearing a dress and makeup, only that I strongly suspect it."
I don't know how much you know about what these two looked like, so here's a helpful jpeg:
When I read this section of the book, my first thought was that he was implying a vast conspiracy where Vivian Vance wasn't just Hoover in a dress that day but always. This picture shows that that was not as crazy as it might have seemed...
I'll refrain from telling too many of his stories, but, have to include this one more: Diane von Furstenberg (a famous fashion designer) was at some sort of event where they were serving a lot of alcohol, but no food. Tim offers to leave with her to find a hot dog or something (and buy it, since she didn't bother to bring any money!). They find a diner and she bursts in and yells, "I need a hot dog! Someone, anyone, please bring me a hot dog!"
After they've eaten most of their food, some diners ask for a photo. She declines, but offers her leftover onion rings.
The last celebrity story I'll mention (though not the last of the book) concerns Martha Stewart. Apparently before she went to prison, Tim saw an episode of her show where she said, "Life has few disappointments greater than a room-temperature nut." This disturbed him due to its complete insanity. Apparently he asked her about it later and her response was essentially, "I said that? Well, I wouldn't say it now!"
He mentions that many people disagree with him when he says that, "People need boundaries and rules. Society does, too. You don't flourish if you're left to do anything in any situation." I could not agree with this more. When I have no structure, I completely cease to be a functional human being--my last few months of unemployment involved vast amounts of internet and internet-as-TV time, sleeping until noon-ish most days, eating constantly out of boredom, and not much else. People always say how much they'd get done if they had such large amounts of time, and maybe they're right, but for me, having no restrictions paralyzes me with trying to choose among the possibilities. I think "I could do this. But, I could do that ANY time! I have all the time I want! I can do that later!" and go back to watching every episode of Mad Men* while shoving potato chips in my mouth.
He also re-affirmed for me that it's totally reasonable and, in fact, necessary, for me to wear low-rise jeans. Thanks, Tim!
*Also Dexter, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 30 Rock, the Office, Parks & Recreation, Community, the League, Weeds, etc., etc.