Wednesday 18 September 2013

How I Became a Jennifer Crusie Dealer

It was Jennifer Crusie's birthday yesterday (the 17th), so in honour of that, I'd like to write a post that I've been meaning to for a while, and tell you about how I became a Jennifer Crusie dealer. (I'll do an actual review her books some other time.)

It all started a few years ago when I worked in the Oil Patch as a First Aid Attendant. Oh, wait, no, I started dealing when I went to school in 2003ish, but I have to go back to the first time that I worked in the OP as an FAA. Because before I became a JC dealer, I became an addict.

When you work on drilling rigs as an FAA, you have a lot of downtime. A lot. Unless you're working on a rig from hell, staffed by idiots who, against the lovely OP adage, "put their fingers where they wouldn't put their penises" on a regular basis, all you had to do was keep a clean FA Room, keep a clean and maintained ETV (emergency transport vehicle), make sure all of your pertinent information was up to date, and play nice with the rig pigs. I mean the men who worked on the rig. (This was usually the hardest job.) Otherwise, you could watch TV (if you had it; see this post), exercise, do correspondence courses, or read. Or sleep.

I read, a lot. When I first started up there, my stints were a three-week max, so I got good use out of my library card. On one pre-work library trip, I was looking for just one more book. As usual, I was vehemently avoiding the "Romance" racks (I like my books well-written, thank-you very much (I had been scarred by a very badly written Harlequin), and at that point I didn't think romance could be).

I spied the shelving cart, and there, in all of it's glorious yellow (JC has some of the best book covers, I swear), was Faking It by Jennifer Crusie. The book was stamped "GF" for General Fiction (thank goodness!), and the blurb on the back sounded funny, so I checked it out. Oh my god I freaking loved it! It is by far one of the funniest books that I've ever read. It is well-written. And when Davy was pleasantly surprised to bounce off a round and soft Tilda, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself reading about a "real" woman; not some uber-fit Twiggy who always had perfect hair and make-up. Tilda is also not a simpering idiot (this could be a whole post on its own, so I'll leave simpering idiots for later), especially when it came to men. I had a new heroine. I also had a new favourite author.

So I go to work, and in between jobs I manage to hit up the local library up north. I find some more JC books (Tell Me Lies and another one, but I cannot remember which one it was). I was excited! They were stamped "ROM" for Romance. Fuck. I actually stood there with abject disappointment and tears brewing in my eyes. No. No. No. I hummed and hawed for at least five minutes before deciding, okay, and I checked the books out. I read them. I laughed. I loved them. I still had a new favourite author! Phew.

(I did have another moment of panic later on when Jennifer Crusie teamed up with Bob Mayer; I love the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, so when I saw one of her co-writes, I bought it. Oh man, was I disappointed. Seriously, it was some of the worst drivel I've ever read. So when I saw Don't Look Down I stood in the store for a few minutes trying so hard not to have an anxiety attack. Deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths. I bought the book, and thank-you, but Bob Mayer can actually write! Funny, funny, well-written book, and worth the leap of faith in JC. Every other co-write of hers is excellent as well.)

On the way home from the job I hit up a Chapters and bought every single JC book that they had in stock, even the ones I'd read from a library. I spent the next few years collecting every new and re-release I could get my hands on. I explored other "Romance" authors, like Sophie Kinsella and Diana Gabaldon. In more recent years I've collected even more romance (I was either pregnant, or, now, have two kids, so a girl's gotta get sex somehow when we're too tired/schedules don't mesh in real life), and I'm probably a bit of an addict, and Jennifer Crusie will always have a fond place in my heart as my gateway drug. I mean author. But this is another story.

Anyway, it's still a few years ago, and I now have a decent collection of books of all genres. I was taking a course at a college, and one of my classmates was deaf. She had an interpreter. Because the coursework was 90% practical practice, the interpreter had a lot of downtime. I noticed that she read a lot when she wasn't interpreting, so I approached her one day and said, "Have I got some books for you!" She was hooked (she aptly described the books as dangerous (in a good way)), and my JC dealing career started.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm back in the OP. I'm carrying with me a Rubbermaid bin full of books. Including my entire JC collection. A fellow FAA loved to read as well, and since we were sharing a house at the time, I happily lent her some books, Faking It and Bet Me included. I hooked another reader.

I've since lent (upon pain of Guido breaking your legs if you don't return the book) or recommended Jennifer Crusie to anyone who needs a good read. Oh sure, I recommend other authors, too, but none are as enjoyable. Or as addictive. But that could just be my opinion.

So, to Jennifer Crusie: Happy Birthday! And, thank-you for being such a great author. And thank-you for only co-writing with other wonderful authors! You rock. Even if your pajamas are being hijacked by old women.


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