Gene Weingarten
& Gina Barreca,
I'm with Stupid
(Simon & Schuster, 2004)

Gene and Gina talk like an old, married couple.

They're not married. They've never met. But they bicker -- affectionately, mind you -- with the comfortable familiarity of longtime chums. And in their book-length dialogue, they set straight all of the issues, myths, misconceptions and bugbears that have dogged the heels of male-female relationships since the first neolithic couple argued over the color of their cave wall art.

OK, so maybe I'm with Stupid doesn't quite live up to its ambitious subtitle: "One Man. One Woman. 10,000 Years of Misunderstanding Between the Sexes Cleared Right Up." But it comes pretty close.

Gene Weingarten is an author and humor columnist for The Washington Post. Gina Barreca is a professor of feminism and English literature at the University of Connecticut, author and columnist for The Hartford Courant. He's a college dropout, she has a Ph.D. A publishing gimmick brought them together for the purposes of this book. But their conversation -- which took place entirely via telephone and Internet over the course of two years -- touches on some of the many real and vital issues that separate the sexes.

Although serious in content, the book is leavened with good humor. Gene and Gina quibble. They quarrel. They banter. By god, they flirt. (No, not that way. Both are happily married. To other people.) Sometimes, Gene is boorish and overtly offensive. Sometimes, Gina is condescending and overly sensitive. (Proving that, sometimes, the stereotypes are true.) Both of them make excellent points. Both present convincing arguments (and, occasionally, third-party testimony). Both also make missteps, get their comeuppances and take their lumps. And both prove to be gracious losers and smug winners in the fray.

During the course of the book, they engage in pointed discourse on matters ranging from parallel parking and the subtleties of color to the roles of men and women in history, pronouns, perfect vacations and Marilyn Monroe's weight. There is talk of sex, of course, as well as the obvious topics of marriage, infidelity and public restrooms. Gucci has its day, as do car sales, poetry, pubic hair, movies, pornography and sports. And, obviously, there is a raging debate over jokes, varied opinions on the merits of humor, farts and the evolution of the giggle.

I'm with Stupid will make you laugh. It will make you think, perhaps in ways quite foreign to you no matter what your gender. It's smart and clever, irreverent and wise. Read it, then share it with someone you love.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 29 May 2004

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