Let's look at the entire experience surrounding my reading of Scaachi Koul's essay collection One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, shall we?
So then I brought it home, and I started reading the first few pages, and I wasn't loving it, so I started skipping around in it. I got as far as page 139, to the essay titled "A Good Egg." And here's how it begins:
"'DID I TELL YOU,' I bellowed into the yawning chasm of existence, on the first day of a new month of a new year, of renewed body and refreshed mind, 'THAT I AM DOING A CLEANSE?'
Before Hamhock [her boyfriend] and I left for our trip to Thailand and Vietnam, I knew that my body would be taking a beating because I have no self-control. We were going to a part of the world where beers cost a few bucks and you can still smoke indoors, so I figured I'd give my liver a head start by avoiding alcohol for the month of January. Dry January, they call it, an attempt to start the year off right, to cure your body of what you did over the winter holidays, to be a better person...My trip would be self-indulgent enough, complete with what the locals call a Bucket of Joy: ice, Red Bull, Sprite, and rum or whisky. It's a death wish served in a frosty pail, and I was going to drink all of them." (pp. 139-140.)
And my immediate thought was, God help me, I can't read essay collections by people in their twenties anymore. And I stopped reading it, but left it in my bedroom.
That was two weeks ago. And I've not touched the book since. But tonight was a particularly trying night in the household, as the juniorest CRjr has taken to not wanting to go to bed and makes the stereotypical 800 preschooler demands at bedtime: tuck me in. I need more milk. I heard a scary noise. You didn't tuck me in. And so on and so forth. So finally, because I was about to lose my temper, I left Mr. CR to corral Jr. (I'm a giving spouse like that) and went to our bedroom and shut the door. And then didn't have anything to do. So I picked up Koul's book again.
And this time, for whatever weird reason, I picked the book up almost exactly where I had left off. And the rest of that essay is about Koul going to college, and drinking, and the friends she made who were also drinking. And sometime later in the essay there's this. Please forgive me if I quote at length, but I don't want to truncate it:
"But girls don't actually get to drink like boys because boys do things to girls when they drink. When I was a teenager, the world told me that a girl is responsible for her own body if she's raped or assaulted when she's drunk: that's her fault, it's on her to not get so drunk she stops being fun and starts being a liability. My parents always told me drinking was risky, that it opened up the recesses of a man's brain and made him primal and territorial. Of course that's bad, we were told, but it's up to you to keep yourself safe. For the first few weeks at the hotel [where she stayed in improvised university housing], when I was invited to different parties in different dorm rooms, when older students offered to buy drinks for me, I attended reluctantly, in bulky clothes and with unbrushed hair. I refused to let anyone touch my drink, no one could open a beer for me, no one was allowed to offer me a cup, even an empty one--I'd bring my own. I was learning how to be fun, sure, but the threat loomed: one of the guys here can take it away from you in a heartbeat, and it'll be your fault." (pp. 143-144.)
And I thought, oh, God, I guess I have to read essay collections by twenty-somethings.
The rest of the essay just struck me as so sad. I won't tell you more about it, other than to say everything I read about being a woman these days (especially a young woman) just makes me feel really bad for both young women AND men. So: downer. But I still may read the rest of the collection.*
*If nothing else, I will have to read her essay about women and online trolling, that is discussed in this review. Sigh. Another reason to feel sad.