People Are Unappealing: Even Me is a collection of humor essays that made me laugh out loud on the train at least five times and — possibly more importantly — Sara Barron’s promising publishing debut. You might have also caught her work on Showtime’s This American Life, NPR’s Weekend Edition, or NBC’s Today Show, where Ms. Barron was featured in a creepy dating segment about matchmaking moms. After the jump we chat her up about FUPAs (yes, we went there), the ghosts of boyfriends past, and her homo dad — her description, not ours.
1. A lot of people think view Manhattan as the fifth main character in Sex And The City. Were you intending for FUPAs to play a similar role in People Are Unappealing?
Sara Barron: For those NOT in the know, let me explain the FUPA: it’s an acronym for Fat Upper Pussy Area. I’ve had one to call my own since hitting puberty in 1991 and she and I (I named her Mona) MONA and I have been on quite the journey together since then. She’s as important a figure in my life as say, my neurotic Jewish mother. She’s made me the woman that I am – figuratively AND literally. I had no choice but to prominently include her.
2. Many of the stories a very… confessional. Was there ever a moment when you/your friends/your family felt afraid that you were revealing too much?
SB: I write extensively in the chapter titled “First We Have to Learn to Love Ourselves,” about my Grandmother’s masturbatory habits, namely that my younger brother Sam once found her dildo stuffed into a tube sock. Did such a reveal to the masses upset Grandma? Sure. But only slightly.
3. Have you had people try to become your friend after reading the book?
SB: Yes. It happens primarily with young women who claim that they also experience the crushing impulse to tweeze errant armpit and pubic hair. That’s a subject I cover in the chapter titled “A Little Bit of Mania,” and you would’ve believe the number of emails I’ve received with a subject header reading, “OMG! We are the same! I tweeze too!”
4. Why did it take you so long to become a writer? If you could go back, would you still have majored in acting in college?
SB: No. I’m sorry about the forthcoming kill-joy-ness of this one, but the fact of the matter as far as I’m concerned, is that you’re screwed in the acting ‘biz’ as they say, if you couldn’t also double as a model. Which I could not. I cannot. I’m a 6.5 with makeup on, a 4 without. If I could do it all over, I’d have stayed on the career path toward literary smut. I wrote a 50-page dirty story when I was eleven (“He humped me real wildly with his wiener”) and I wish I would’ve seen that through. I wish that I was now gainfully employed as a staff-writer at Penthouse. Do they provide health insurance, by the by? I imagine myself contracting the herpes by simple virtue of sitting in one of their office chairs.
5. I died over you calling your musicals-loving dad a homo because I call my own father Gay Dad. What made him more proud: Watching you play Sakiko in West Side Story or having a daughter with a published book?
SB: My homo dad was made happier by the book publication, I think. I think that it was fun for him to say something other than, “My daughter waits tables in pleated slacks and orthopedic shoes.”
6. If you had to spend your life with either Randall (the tiny dancer), Elijah (the water sports fan), or Josh (the hand model), who would you pick?
SB: Randall. While it’s true he dumped me faster than a curry dinner back in 1996, his double-stacked-soup-can endowment — and I realize this only after having been around the block a few times — is not the sort a gal should walk away from.
7. Is the masturbation hospitalization story true?
SB: ‘Tis. I masturbated so aggressively when I was seventeen that I scored a case of carpal tunnel syndrome. My mother, a hypochondriac, was convinced I’d suffered a brain aneurysm and rushed me to the emergency where I was fitted for a wrist brace.
8. If you were adapting People Are Unappealing into a movie and couldn’t play yourself, who would you cast as you?
SB: Bobcat Goldthwait
9. Have you been back to an Olive Garden since getting fired?
SB: Duh hecky, as the kids say. Despite its other transgressions, the free Olive Garden breadsticks are wonderful.
10. Have you seen that episode of 30 Rock where Tina Fey meets Oprah? Is what you imagine would happen if you met her more or less embarrassing?
SB: I don’t know how Tina Fey handled meeting Oprah as I cannot, at present, afford a television yet and I’m terribly confused by Hulu. As for me, I’d surely get the runs. I know I would.