Excerpt

 

Introduction

 

When I was young and spry, I stayed up late every weeknight to watch the Late Show with David Letterman. I never missed an episode, but one of his skits always stuck with me: Letterman runs up to random strangers on the street and asks them a series of rapid-fire questions. “Where are you from? What do you do for a living? How are the hot dogs in Kentucky? ARE YOU WACKY ON THE JUNK?” The responses varied from startled blinks and stammering to confused chuckles, until he got to one guy who just shook his head as if to say, Oh, yeah, I’m definitely wacky on the junk.

When I initially got the idea to write this book, that phrase stuck in my mind, and the more I wrote, the better it seemed to fit. Also, I just love David Letterman. So the title stuck.

My name is Kathy. I used to pronounce it “Kaffy.” Learning how to pronounce my name properly was the first order of business when I was in speech therapy. I’ve been to a few types of therapy in my time, some more successful than others, but I am happy to report that I can pronounce my name. I find it makes for more confident introductions.

To say I’m a sensitive and emotional soul is a study in understatement. It’s like saying Joseph Stalin had “a bit of a temper.” My disposition is as much a part of my genetic code as my blue eyes. Were you ever to visit the inside of my head, I’m 98 percent sure you would immediately start looking for the emergency exit—and I wouldn’t blame you.

I’m fifty-three years old. I’m a paralegal, a wife, a mother of three, and a lover of music, art, nature, laughter, and food. I’ve spent the past nineteen years working for four attorneys who specialize in child abuse cases. Unsolicited advice: don’t do that. Four attorneys is about three attorneys too many, and for someone whose opinion of the human race was already pretty low, the job has only served to verify my suspicions. Perhaps I’d have a better outlook if I took up flower delivery.

I live in Richmond, Virginia—a historic city with great restaurants and breweries, a beautiful river, an amazing art museum, great live music, and a top-notch annual folk festival. Richmond, locally known as RVA, rocks—but for God’s sake, don’t tell anyone. We don’t want everyone and their brother moving here.

What follows herein are stories—some poignant, some of the sorts of things everyone goes through, all told through the voice of someone who often feels like a foreigner airdropped onto the Island of Life—with no survival tools.