I made the mistake of thinking I would read only one essay of this book before going to bed… I stayed up till 3am to finish the whole thing in one sitting. It’s been so long since this has happened, especially going into it not even expecting to finish one essay. But Kaling has one of the most conversational, delightful and funniest voices in writing. It’s nearly impossible to put down Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?This book was simply fun, and I unexpectedly learned a lot about various topics such as: female friendships (the essay about Mindy befriending Mavis was one of my favorites), health insurance (& how much Kaling loves it), The Office (& how Rainn Wilson’s so horrible), Irish exits, “and a healthy dose of unfair situations that now seem funny in retrospect, unfair situations that I still don’t think are funny, Hollywood, heartache, and my childhood.”
And since we’re already on topic, Mindy Kaling writing about her childhood and coming-of-age was one of the funniest and relatable things I’ve read as of late. Which is why the title essay was one my favorites:
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Or, How I Made My First Real Friend)
Reason #1 why Mavis is one the kindest souls:
“Mavis said, quietly, “If you want to go with them, I totally get it.”
There was something about the unexpectedly kind way she said that that made me happy to be with her, and not them. For some reason, I immediately thought about how my parents had always been especially fond of Mavis, and here was this moment when I understood exactly why: she was a good person. It felt so good to realize how smart my parents had been all along. “Are you kidding me?” I said. “We have to go home and film this sketch.”
When Mindy first introduced her childhood friend in this book, I was worried that Mavis would only appear this one time, but I’m glad they became good friends.
“There was just Mavis and me, but it never seemed lonely because we never stopped talking.”
“One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about. We never needed best friend gear because I guess with real friends you don’t have to make it official. It just is.”
#truth. I really loved their friendship and was even genuinely upset when they lost contact in college.
“Even though Mavis was my secret friend, she is the only one I hope I see again. She’s the only one I wonder about. I hope she wonders about me too.”
But thankfully Kaling mentioned here that they saw one another again in 2002.
I laughed out loud multiple times during this, but particularly when she talked about babysitting for some rich parents and eating a lot of their kid-friendly food:
“I did it so much that it became a problem. One evening after her bath, Haley pulled me aside, wracked with guilt: “Mommy wanted to know who ate all the turtle-shaped bagel pizzas, and I knew it was you, but I lied and said it was me.” She burst into tears. I hugged her and told her, “You can never tell her the truth.” And then I let her stay up an extra hour watching Lizzie McGuire. Bribes and boy bands. That’s all you need to be a babysitter.”
All About The Office
This was the essay I’d been waiting for!!! And I was not disappointed, especially when she made an actual list of what Kelly and her have in common:
“Things Kelly and I Would Both Do
• Choreograph and star in a music video
• Fake our own deaths to catch a serial killer
• Cry at work occasionally
• Memorize our credit card numbers to shop online with ease
• Drive with our parking brake on
• Go to goop.com every day
• Spend hours following a difficult recipe, hate the way it tastes, and throw it out to go to McDonald’s
• Get upset if we’re not invited to a party
• Go on trendy and slightly dangerous diets
• Hold a royal wedding viewing party”
Also, her fights with Greg Daniels had me cackling.
“What do we fight about? I wish I could say they were big, smart, philosophical issues about writing or comedy, but sometimes they’re as small as “If we do that cold open where Kevin dumps a tureen of chili on himself, I will quit this show.” We did that cold open, by the way, and it was a hit, and I’m still working at the show. I can get a little theatrical.”
That’s one of my favorite Office openings. I still can’t believe she was against it.
“STEVE CARELL IS NICE BUT IT IS SCARY
It has been said many times, but it is true: Steve Carell is a very nice guy. His niceness manifests itself mostly in the fact that he never complains. You could screw up a handful of takes outside in 104-degree smog-choked Panorama City heat, and Steve Carell’s final words before collapsing of heat stroke would be a friendly and hopeful “Hey, you think you have that shot yet?”
I’ve always found Steve gentlemanly and private, like a Jane Austen character.”
(I actually love this.)
Franchises I Would Like to Reboot
This essay… oh man, it was 1am when I started it, and I thought (and still think) that Kaling might actually be psychic… Because this is practically the script for Ghostbusters that came out in 2016:
I always wanted the reboot of Ghostbusters to be four girl-ghostbusters. Like, four normal, plucky women living in New York City searching for Mr. Right and trying to find jobs—but who also bust ghosts. I’m not an idiot, though. I know the demographic for Ghostbusters is teenage boys, and I know they would kill themselves if two ghostbusters had a makeover at Sephora. I just have always wanted to see a cool girl having her first kiss with a guy she’s had a crush on, and then have to excuse herself to go trap the pissed-off ghosts of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire or something. In my imagination, I am, of course, one of the ghostbusters, with the likes of say, Emily Blunt, Taraji Henson, and Natalie Portman. Even if I’m not the ringleader, I’m definitely the one who gets to say “I ain’t afraid a no ghost.” At least the first time.”
How I Write
Last, but obviously not least, is this short but hilariously relatable piece on Kaling’s writing process and being productive.
“The Internet also makes it extraordinarily difficult for me to focus. One small break to look up exactly how almond milk is made, and four hours later I’m reading about the Donner Party and texting all my friends: DID YOU GUYS KNOW ABOUT THE DONNER PARTY AND HOW MESSED UP THAT WAS? TEXT ME BACK SO WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT!”
This really reminded me of Aziz Ansari’s stand up about this exact subject… One of the funniest comedic bits I’ve rewatched about ten times (or more).
But real talk, I was really enjoying my time spent reading this book. Kaling had me laughing out loud in the middle of night, which I will always appreciate. But, as much as I want to, I can’t ignore the fact that I despised it when this book reached a part called “THE BEST DISTRACTION IN THE WORLD: ROMANCE AND GUYS.” I was not into it at all. I have little to no interest in someone dictating for nearly 50 pages what guys, especially Jewish guys (I nearly put the book down after that), or even married people should or shouldn’t do. So I started skimming the essays after I reached that part. I also found that the following parts had lost almost all of Kaling’s humor that I found so damn charming in the first part (I mean, I stayed up till 3am for it).So in order to recover my love, I’ll just try to forget that those parts were included in this book, and focus instead on all that I loved and mentioned beforehand in my review. And so I’m more than willing to pick up her next book, Why Not Me?.