Lessons From Lucy by Dave Barry. There's a dog on the cover. There's Dave Barry on the cover. The dog looks both wise and dumb as good dogs should. Dave Barry looks like Dave Barry, I guess. The cover says New York Times Bestseller in all caps so it's not like I'm alone in liking this. Nice to be in the in-crowd. And the publisher has put a subtitle on the thing stating that it's about "the simple joys of an old, happy dog" by which I think they're referring to Lucy, but who knows what they think of Barry or how they refer to him around the office. Could go either way.
My friend Faith suggested the book, so I blame her. I've known Faith forty-one years. I remember how, on her fortieth birthday, a family friend hung a sheet or something on her house saying, "Lordy, Lordy, Faith is Forty." I also remember thinking, "wow, forty is old." And now our friendship is forty-one years old, I'm ten years older than that, and I've come around to a whole new way of thinking about these things, which is to say: wow, forty-one is ridiculously old.
The book is good and fun. It's a self-help book, but Barry knows better than that. He also understands he's stating the obvious in the book and that it's okay. Besides, it's not really a self-help book because it's funny. Self-help isn't allowed to be funny. It's not even allowed to approach funny. There are laws in all fifty states and Rhode Island about these things. Lessons From Lucy is a humor book disguised as self-help too obvious to be real self-help and couldn't be self-help anyway because it's funny, all of which is help to my self.
To give just a taste — mind you, this book tastes terrible even with chocolate sauce — discussing mindfulness, Barry reminded me of my good old days working in schools that often helped teachers by forcing them through day-long sessions about things that obviously didn't matter and would be forgotten before the end of September so that we could spend another day-long session acting as though we were invested in and listening to the presentation and definitely not watching the NCAA Tournament on our phones hidden cunningly in our laps.
I was one of the last people to find out about "mindfulness." By the time I'd heard of it, major corporations and government agencies were putting their employees through mindfulness training. I did not view this as a positive sign. In my experience, any trend that reaches the point where large organizations are inflicting it on their personnel has a high statistical probability of being stupid.
I don't remember what the second lesson for Lucy is (there are seven chapters, each with a lesson from Lucy, and (spoiler!) they follow in numerical order) but it served as an excuse for Barry to describe being a member of a precision lawnmower brigade and the band The Remainders (who play, according to Roy Blount Jr. music falls under the heading "hard listening.") I read it in bed last night and am still married because my wife remained downstairs talking with our daughter while I snorted and giggled through forty-four pages and then reread most of it to snort and giggle some more. After I'm done drafting this, I'll read it again and laugh at the exact same stuff and this may go on for days. I think this is a sign of greatness, that I derive joy from things again and again, sucking the marrow out of life as it were. I hear whispers on occasion, suggesting the possibility that I'm just a simple moron. Another thing that could go either way.
But there really is a part of this for which I blame Faith. The epilogue had me in tears. Not laughing, Dave-Barry-is-so-funny tears, but real ones I had trouble seeing through. The last eight pages I had to keep wiping my eyes and try to breathe normally. Also, I got snot on the book. For this, I apologize to the Onondaga County Library System and everyone else waiting to read Lessons From Lucy, but mostly I blame Faith. So should the librarians.
Don't worry, the dog doesn't die. Lucy doesn't even get sick. She's fine. Everybody's fine. Even me. Everyone is good except Faith who has some serious explaining to do.