“Jewish singles dances in the eighties were my guarantee of a lot of free dinners and great stories,” writes Harriet Rose, a stand-up comic and author of the new essay collection I’m Easy, You’re Lucky. Rose is a Jersey girl who’s a little too self-conscious, and a little too smart, about her position as a Jewish girl in the strange land of being single.
In the story “Living el Pollo Loco,” her mother coaches her: “Get a number, move on. If you get three dates, something might come of it”–to which Harriet dryly comments, “I was speed dating and I didn’t know it.” Her adventures range from late-night antics at Jersey diners to moving to L.A. and becoming an accidental stripper.
Through this, she’s constantly propelled forward by two things: The search for the perfect man (she’s still looking) and the unending fountain of her mother’s wisdom. “In a difficult situation, eat a piece of hard candy,” her mother says. “The sucking will take your mind off anything.”
When confronted with social anxiety at a movie premiere inHollywood, she immediately fills her mouth with candies as the woman next to her watches with interest. “Do you want one?” asks Harriet. “Yes,” says the woman. After the movie, when the lights come on, she realizes she’s been co-pigging out with actress Sophia Loren. Constantly embarrassing, but constantly turning her shame into comedic gold, Harriet Rose is a joy to read.