Last night I went to a Minnesota Public Radio event with Gail Collins, my favorite New York Times columnist, and MPR host Kerri Miller, whose sultry voice wakes me up many a day. Gail is on a book tour for When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, which I now own a signed copy of. But I’ll get to that in a moment. I want to let you in on some juicy tidbits about NYT columnists for a moment. First, Gail revealed, they do write their own titles! They just have to be short. Second, when Gail and David Brooks write their weekly back-and-forth “Conversations,” they blog back and forth. I was kind of hoping for IM’ing, but I suppose it’s a bit more substantive than LOLs and emoticons. Third, Gail is short like me!
So after the chat with Kerri Miller and the Q&A with the audience (which ended up with some audience members offering their willingness to embrace or eschew the term “feminist”), Gail cheerfully sat down for a book signing. I was quick on my feet, so I ended up being third in line, which meant that I got her while she was fresh. (Also, I have stood in extraordinarily long book signing lines before — over an hour for David Sedaris — so it’s nice to be up front, for once.) Here’s a reconstruction of our conversation:
Lauren: I — er — [MPR girl interrupts Gail with silly question; I attempt to regain composure; try again when I have Gail’s attention] I just want to say that I love your columns. And I think you’re funnier than Maureen Dowd.
Gail: [blanches — maybe she doesn’t like Dowd? In any case, they are the only two NYT columnists who intentionally try to be funny, so I thought it was a fair, and accurate, comparison. Suck it up, Lauren, try again!]
Lauren: And you really humanize David Brooks.
Gail: [smiling; I have redeemed myself] He’s really the sweetest human being.
Lauren: He sounds like it when I listen to him on NPR. In his columns, he’s just so [don’t say boring!] serious.
Gail: Who should I make this out to?
Lauren: [spells name, watches Gail inscribe her book]
Gail: Well, it was nice to meet both of you [I’m with my boyfriend, who has remained wordless throughout this exchange].
Lauren: You, too! Good luck on your book tour!
So, Gail, if you Google yourself and find yourself here, I wasn’t comparing you to Mo Dowd because you are the only lady columnists; you are the only funny columnists, now that Bill Kristol has been dispatched back to Fox News.
I’ll give y’all an update once I read Gail’s book.