Still a funny, that Dave Barry.
A phone conversation with him is like sitting in the audience in a comedy club. In Florida.
Because while Barry may have mined the weirdness of the Sunshine State for his syndicated Miami Herald column and some of his 30-odd books, he is starting to write like a short-fused retiree.
The cover of his new book depicts Barry with one finger pointed, standing behind the title, “You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty.”
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Think he’s joking? Don’t be so sure.
Consider this passage about his 14-year-old daughter having a boy over to watch television “on the exact same sofa.”
“I’m thinking of getting some kind of firearm,” Barry writes, “which every now and then I would casually discharge into the family-room ceiling. Ha-ha! THAT will give Mr. Short Man something to think about.
“Only twenty-seven more years to go.”
Reached at his home in Coral Gables, the Pulitzer Prize winner wasn’t worried about humiliating his young Sophie.
“She is a 14-year-old girl who is going to have to go to college someday, and this is what Daddy does,” said Barry, 66. “She is used to it, and my son is used to it. Their lives are fodder.”
But the book of essays — for which Barry will be in Seattle March 11 at Town Hall Seattle and March 12 at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park — isn’t just about parenting.
It covers grammar, because all that texting is causing us to become a country of unemployable illiterates.
It covers air-travel FAQs, because people are idiots (“Q: When should I leave for the airport? A: You should already be at the airport”).
And it puzzles over what women want, based on Barry’s interpretation of the wildly popular “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
“I think I am the only man who read it,” Barry said. “It’s an amazingly bad book. I know women who are not stupid who read this book, and none of them could give me an explanation.”
What’s worse, the female protagonist, Anastasia Steele, must have been flown in from 1983.
“She was young and didn’t even have email?” Barry crowed. “He gave her a computer that she didn’t know how to use? That’s very normal for a 21-year-old girl.”
Barry’s take-away was that women want a guy who is extremely handsome and has a great body and is a billionaire with helicopters. But no bondage stuff.
“I asked women I know, ‘Do you want a guy who wants to tie you up and hit you?’ They said no. So I came out concluding that I will never understand women.”
That includes the Kardashians.
“They are the cockroaches of celebrities,” Barry said. “They are adaptable. When the earth has gone too close to the sun, there will be cockroaches and Kardashians.”
Ah, but along with the complaining is the quick wit and the Justin Bieber (circa 2010) haircut.
There. I said it.
“I did have this haircut first,” Barry said. “I have always had this haircut. Genetics gave me this haircut. The height of it was 1964.”
Since leaving a 20-year career at The Miami Herald in 2005, Barry has been a stay-at-home dad while his wife, Michelle Kaufman, works as a Herald sports columnist.
He has written several novels for adults, including 1999’s “Big Trouble,” which was made into a movie released in 2002; had a television show, “Dave’s World,” gleaned from two books of his columns; and co-wrote the “Peter and the Starcatchers” series of children’s books, which were made into a Tony Award-winning play and will be adapted for film. He also helped create International Talk Like a Pirate Day and has run several mock campaigns for President of the United States as a Libertarian.
And he has stayed in Florida, the state that never seems to have a shortage of ideas — and stupid people who like to keep dangerous reptiles as pets.
“Some moron thought it was a good idea to have a python as a pet and then they ran out of crack and let it go,” Barry said. “Now we have hundreds of thousands of them in the Everglades.
“And they can all vote.”
May be good for him, if he ever decides to run for president again, on the Bieber-look-alike, stay-away-from-my-daughter platform. Argh.
Nicole Brodeur: firstname.lastname@example.org.