Author: Cynthia Kaplan
I wonder if there is any way I can tell this story and have it seem like I did it in the name of those dolphins that get caught in the tuna nets.Meet Cynthia Kaplan, whose debut collection of personal stories is so much fun to read because of her complete and utter willingness to tell the God’s honest truth.And it isn’t pretty. Kaplan takes us on a hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking journey through her unique, uncensored world, from her first bungled romantic encounters (No, really, what was I supposed to do?) to her terrifying tropical honeymoon. From her first, unsung theatrical experiences at summer camp (I opened the script and saw that I had only one line for the entire first half of the play, and that line consisted of one word, wawa) to a starring role in an independent film (Two months after the film screens in New York, my father-in-law passes away…and it is intimated to me more than once that seeing me locked in an erotic embrace with a black woman hastened his decline.). We also meet Kaplan’s family, almost lovingly rendered in her razor-sharp prose: Her gadget-obsessed father; her mother, who, if you should want to know, is Fine; her eccentric Florida grandmother (I want you to have this. And this. One day. When I’m dead.); her New York grandmother, with whom she discovers she shares an innate sense of spite (Seething is something one can reasonably do for a lifetime, if one is so inclined); her fearless husband, whom she engages in an ongoing battle over which of them is the most popular person in their apartment; and finally, her vengeful, power-hungry, one-year-old son.Kaplan has a wonderfully original voice, almost painfully precise, and yet, it’s a lot like the one in our heads, the one that most of us are only willing to listen to late at night, in the dark, maybe locked in a closet. So what a relief it is that someone finally admits that she is afraid of nearly everything under the sun, including moths; that she is jealous even of people whose lives are on the verge of collapse; and that she has, at times, tried to pass for a gentile (I didn’t like carrying the burden of two thousand years of persecution around while everyone else looked so fancy free.) After reading Why I’m Like This, you might just take a good look at your life, (or at the life of a truffle pig, as Kaplan does), and realize that even though it’s not perfect, it’s yours, and that’s something.