I was sitting in Starbucks, waiting for Younger Daughter’s riding lesson to end, and I’d brought along a book to help pass the time.
When the first laugh popped out, it took me by surprise. I checked to see if anyone had noticed, and caught the man at the next table quickly averting his eyes.
A few minutes passed and it happened again. This time my seatmate studiously avoided looking in my direction.
The third time, he quietly packed up his things and left without a backward glance.
You have to understand: I’m not really a laugh-out-loud kind of reader. I’m more of a smiler. When I read something that tickles my funny bone, I mentally tip my hat to the author, engage my zygomaticus muscles for a brief moment, and move on. This time, however, there would be no moving on.
The book that so captivated me was “Diplomatic Incidents” by Cherry Denman, who establishes her expat cred with a breezy, “Many years ago, in a moment of absent-minded self-indulgence, I married a diplomat.” (I’m warning you now: I’m going to be ramming this delightful book down your throats for the rest of my days. Prepare yourselves accordingly.)
By the time it was done I’d racked up 16 LOLs and scared off another Starbucks patron. But Denman is so much more than just a screamingly funny writer. She’s a card-carrying member of the Expat Spouse Club, having stumbled through postings in Hong Kong, China, Libya and Cyprus, raising two children along the way. In other words, she gets it. Only an expat could write something like this:
“I have moved around the world for twenty-five years now and I still cry for three months every time I arrive in a new place. Yet I would not have missed a single day, left out a single experience or not met a single person. Every bizarre incident and every strange accident broadens your heart in a way that living safely and comfortably can never do.”
The entire memoir is studded with gems like that. In fact, it would have been more efficient (not to mention easier on the eyes) to highlight the bits I didn’t find pithy, thought-provoking, or pant-peeing hilarious. Instead, thanks to my highlighting frenzy, the pages are now blindingly, violently yellow. So I’m afraid you’ll just have to get your own copy.