originally published November 2011
Syndicated humor columnist and author of five previous books with
titles like You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning, Celia Rivenbark's says her secret weapon is having her fourteen-year-old daughter to update her website.
"My daughter will be studying, and I'm like, 'what is wrong with you? Snookie is in trouble!' she jokes, before turning serious. "I'm consumed with pop culture. If my People Magazine is one hour late, I'm hunting down the mailman and it's not pretty."
Sitting down with Celia makes an hour feel like five minutes. Abandoning my boring questions, I decided to sit back and listen.
"It's so shallow, I know," she said, "But Snookie pulls me in. Studying? I never studied. I had one hundred eighty kids in our graduating class and I was 90th. I did just enough to get by. My daughter, she's the most responsible member of our household. She just signed up for sign language club. I'm like, 'Oh honey that's really admirable.' But I'm thinking, Is cheer-leading out of style completely?"
Maybe there's some other motivation, like a cute boy?
"I asked... Don't think I didn't ask. 'No,' she said, 'Mommy, I think it could be really great because that way if there are deaf kids at high school I could help them talk to the teacher,' and I'm like, "Who are you and where did you come from?"
What are you working on?
"My next book, already under contract, is a funny look at etiquette. I'm thinking of calling it That's Not a Salad Fork, You Stupid &*#$."
Plans for the holidays?
"I pay no attention to Christmas. It's a big pain. No, actually, we always go to my mother-in-law's. Stockings hung by the chimney with care and home-made coconut cake."
Tell me about your big break?
"My first book Bless your Heart, Tramp was published in 2000, and I sold it out of the trunk of my car wherever two or more gathered. Nan Graham and I wrangled a gig on the John Wayne radio show and happened to mention our signing in Charlotte. We were used to five people showing up, but this place was packed. After that everything changed. We both sold a load of books which led to an agent calling to ask if she could represent me. In two weeks, she sold it and had me under contract for another."
"I did okay. Not bad for a high school diploma, right?"
Have you found your dream job?
"No, I always wanted to write program synopsis for the TV Guide. I would quit all this in a second if they'd have me. But I'd tell them what I was going to do. I'd write about Dexter. A lovable serial killer, what's not to love? And, Mad Men, of course. And Breaking Bad; the absolute best!"
Read anything good lately? Books, fan mail?
"There are a few books I can remember weeping because I didn't want them to end. The Stand was one. The Corrections and Prince of Tides were others. I absolutely wept because I thought I was never going to read anything better. But, then I did. Luckily, with my newspaper column, I do get more positive feedback than negative, which is nice, because when you think about it, most people don't say "I'm going to write a letter saying I really enjoyed that. Most people are like, I hate her, I want her to die in her sleep, you know, and then they write the letter."
Want to read what she can't print in her humor column? Check out You Don't Sweat Much, For a Fat Girl, online at www.celiarivenbark.com .