Authors: Aisha Tyler
EDICATED TO MY PARENTS,
WHO RAISED ME TO BE BRAVE.
the fact that much of what I write about in this book has been cribbed from my life
experiences, this is not an autobiography.
I am self-involved, but not so self-involved to think that my life merits comprehensive
documentation. I will wait until I am an old and tragic drunk for that. (Or until
I make the terrible mistake of cheating on my husband with an appallingly young backup
dancer. I absolutely do not intend to do this, but it would surely merit some pompous
and tearful introspection.)
I talk about real people in this book, and real occurrences. That being said, everything
here has been retrieved from the annals of my spotty and highly unreliable memory,
and for all I know, may be complete fabrication—due either to severe retrograde amnesia
(the early throes of which the Internet assures me I am in), or, more likely, my intense
desire to have lived a life more thrilling than the one I’ve shambled rather aimlessly
through thus far.
For that reason, please do not take this book as any kind of documentarian portrait
of my life, or try to use excerpts from this book to judge me, my family, my childhood,
my friends, or as example of the broad and inexorable decay of Western civilization.
All names have been changed or omitted, both to protect the innocent, and because
I can’t remember who the fuck most of these people are anyway.
Furthermore, it would be spectacularly futile to try and use this as an evidentiary
document with which to convict or exonerate criminals, figure out what happened to
the Lindbergh baby, uncover the truth about the Kennedy assassination, or divine where
Jimmy Hoffa may be buried.
If you take this as gospel, you will be sorely disappointed. This book is not a salacious
tell-all full of celebrity secrets and tearful confessions. This book is just a book;
one I hope is serviceably funny and relatively free of grammatical errors.
My hopes and dreams for this book: I hope it will be amusing. I hope it will be entertaining.
I hope it will make you laugh, and maybe make you think. I hope that it will be the
only book you ever read by an African-American comedian/actress/television host/podcaster/gamer/intense
lover of pancakes with such a lush and heady surfeit of fine curse words.
I hope this book will inspire you to be yourself. I hope this book will encourage
you to follow your dreams. I hope this book will impress your friends when you display
it prominently in your home, preferably on a coffee table or in the bathroom next
to that dog-eared (and unread) copy of
that you put there to intimidate your guests as they pee.
I hope, all else failing, that this book will provide a stable surface upon which
to place a refreshing beverage when you are watching television.
Above all, I hope that you, like me, will embrace your fears, learn from your failures,
celebrate your victories, and run headlong into (metaphorical) danger. Get up, go
out into the world, and do awesome shit.
I’ll be here on the couch if you need me.
“It is through being wounded that power grows and can, in the end, become tremendous.”
“Holy crap that fucking hurt.”
not a psychologist, but I do know some shit about people.
This is not a boast. This is just the truth.
If you were to question why the hell I think I can write a book about human failure
and its power to transform people with the strength of its sheer awesomeness, I would
have to plead no contest. I am uniquely unqualified to pontificate on the behavior
of others and its significance. My undergraduate degree is not in psychology, or human
behavior, or sociology, or even anthropology. My undergraduate degree is in government,
with a double minor in environmental studies and drinking shit.
I have no letters after my name.
I possess no qualifications to indicate I have any special or unique insight into
the human condition. I have spent no amount of time studying socio-cultural norms
or human behavior. I’ve never even gone through therapy.
What I have done is been a person—for quite a while now, in fact. I think of myself
as an expert on being human, especially as I have never been anything else. So while
I cannot speak to the experiences of others, I can talk a whole hell of a lot of shit
about myself. And since I am human (last I checked, anyway; it’s entirely possible
I’ve been body snatched or am a blissfully unaware assimilate of The Borg),
I am more than willing to extrapolate wild and totally unscientific conclusions from
my personal experiences and apply them to the human race as a whole.
So, upon this ill-considered and alarmingly flimsy foundation, let me present the
concept of the self-inflicted wound—its origins, nature, structure, and subsets.
To commence, there is an axiom that applies pretty universally to the human psyche
when it comes to spectacular failure. For expedience, and because it sounds awesome,
let’s call it
The Tyler Fuckup Principle
It goes like this: when something goes terribly wrong, the human mind instinctively
casts about for something
to blame. The mentally unpalatable concept that we might have massively screwed up
is so difficult for the mind to grasp, so utterly cognitively dissonant, that we immediately
—that there is no way this could have occurred without negative outside influence.
As a result, our own failures are always, by their very nature of being “failure,”
someone else’s fault. When one is undone—sprawled across the cold tile of a public
bathroom in a pool of one’s own vomit, or shivering in the back of a taxi in a pair
of urine-soaked skinny jeans with no money for cab fare and a dead cell phone battery—much
like a wobbly toddler or an unhinged politician, one immediately looks for someone
else to blame. God. Your parents. Ex-girlfriends. Undocumented immigrants. Marvin
in Human Resources. China.
This is natural. This is the way the mind works. “I know I am standing in a pool of
milk and broken glass, but that is because someone pelted me with milk bottles. I
have spilled this milk myself! I am
We do not take responsibility for our actions, not because we are weak willed or
devoid of character, but because we are just not wired that way. Even tiny children
know it is much wiser to point at that
kid rather than step forward bravely when asked, “Who ate the cookie?” Children are
not taught this, and contrary to the claims of the Parents’ Television Council, they
do not learn it by watching cartoons or interacting with atheists. It is just something
. Deflection is in our genes, much like a predisposition to retain abdominal fat and
a love of crunchy orange foods. It is just how we are.
We are born this way.
With a self-inflicted wound, one is clearly both perpetrator
victim. The damage is so severe and spectacular as to be unavoidably apparent to
others, and when one casts about for someone to blame, one finds, to one’s great chagrin,
that there is no one to blame but oneself. The self-inflicted wound, whether physical
or (much more common) psychological, is a demon entirely of one’s own making—a self-conjured
gorgon pulled from the netherworld, if not voluntarily, then at the very least unbidden.
Eventually one has to wake up and smell the metaphorical blood;
you did this to yourself.