Don’t tell my husband, but I think I’m in love with a woman.
I was in New York a couple of weeks ago to see my agent, visit some bookstores, and have lunch with an author who blurbed my new book.
This author, Judith Newman, is a well-known journalist – a writer for the New York Times and Vanity Fair, a ghostwriter for celebrity bios, etc – and I was lucky enough to have her review my first book for People Magazine a few years back.
When that review came out, I was so thrilled by it that I friended her on Facebook and asked if I could buy her a car. (She declined.) And through these past few years, we’ve exchanged an occasional amusing message with one another. But of course, it’s Facebook, where the majority of your “friends” are people whose name vaguely rings a bell, and who you think you might have met over a urinal or standing in line for government cheese.
Fast forward to 2017. My new book was in the publication process, and an important part of any book’s cover is blurbs. The publisher will help by asking their authors, but that’s always a crap shoot, so most of it – like every aspect of publicity these days – falls on you.
Judith had just published a book of her own about her son Gus’ autism and how it impacted her family’s lives, called To Siri With Love, which was a NYT bestseller. She’s one of the funniest writers ever (not exactly a requirement for serious journalistic profiles, but there you go) and the book is hilarious – not something you expect in a story about autism. But it’s also heartfelt and enormously touching. As someone with an autistic nephew, I found the book not only relatable but inspiring. And I laughed my ass off, which is something everyone who deals with an autistic kids needs to do.
So, as I was pondering who to ask for blurbs, I thought, hey, we’re friends, I’ll ask Judith!
Much like most of my major life decisions, this one wasn’t fully thought through. Between her boatload of commissions as a journalist, being the mother of two sons, one of whom is, as mentioned, autistic – and our highly tenuous FB connection, you can imagine what an imposition this was.
Most busy writers would just block you, or take out a restraining order. Or maybe, since you did know each other for five minutes years ago, they’d write a short, kind note saying thank you, but they barely have enough time to get that mole looked at.
But this is Judith Newman.
And after once again declining all manner of gifts as a thank you, she agreed to let me take her to lunch.
We met at The Lambs Club.
I wondered if she’d be like some of the New Yorkers I know – hardened and sarcastic and full of condescension for those who live in the land of palm trees and P. Diddy.
But she was warm. And open. And fascinating.
We laughed a lot. She said she grew up in Scarsdale, which prompted me to tell that old Joan Rivers joke, “What’s a Jewish woman’s dream house? 14 rooms in Scarsdale, no kitchen, no bedroom.”
And we talked about really deep, personal things, which were only interrupted after two hours by my having to meet my husband – who?? – for a show.
Maybe it’s having an autistic son that made Judith so embracing of somebody as big and dorky as me.
Or maybe she’s just built that way.
Whatever the case, Judith Newman, I think I love you.
And when you’re ready, I’ll see you on Tinder.
Let’s keep this just between us.