I know Jen Kirkman. A little. She appeared on my podcast twice and was a fantastic guest both times. Kirkman has written a book entitled “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids.” For you longtime fans of my podcast, she did not get the idea for the book after spending three hours in a small room with Carlos, Mike, Sean and me. (Although I am certain Los has inspired many women never to have kids.)
No, this book came about because Kirkman long ago decided she did not want kids, and the whole world pestered her and said things like, “But you should really have kids,” and she was like, “I mean it. I don’t want kids.” And the world was like, “You’ll change your mind someday. You’re being selfish,” And she was like, “How many ways do I have to tell you people? I say it in my stand-up. I say it on Twitter. I say it in person. I don’t want to have any damn kids!?!” So instead of telling everyone to go to hell for the next few years, she wrote a book, which was the better choice because you can’t option telling people “Go to hell!” for movie and TV rights.
I talked to Kirkman about “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself” for a published Q-and-A. You can read it here. I received an advanced copy of the book, and it’s so her. Kirkman perfectly captures how absolutely insane it is to ask anyone a question as deeply personal as, “Do you plan to have kids?”
Kirkman bleeds the world’s lack of propriety and manners of all its nonsense and mixes in her own humor, logic and neurosis. Men and women who don’t want to have kids will find comfort in this book and in knowing they have such a prominent and ballsy ally.
A few weeks ago we spoke for an hour on the phone prior to a stand-up show in San Diego. As so often happens, lots of stuff from the interview, for various reasons, did not make it into the final published Q&A. So I pulled the most interesting tidbits left on the cutting room floor and and shared them with you below.
Our discussion starts with her traumatic reaction to The Day After, a movie that scared the hell out of both of us when we were kids.
When you wrote about The Day After, I was nodding my head the entire time. I was like, ‘Yes, that happened to me.’ I could not stop thinking about nuclear war in the 1980s. Terrified me.
You’re the first person I’ve talked to that referenced that part, and that’s my favorite part of the book.
Oh, is it? I think it’s mine too.
That part of the book was actually another book I had wanted to write before this idea about not wanting kids came up, which was essays about my life growing up and how that shaped who I became. I became a different kind of kid because of that experience, but anyway, that’s kind of my favorite part of the book because I just think that’s when my whole world changed. I was like, ‘Everyone’s crazy. What is going on? This is such a crazy world.’