—The New York Times Book Review
“Strikes the perfect balance of brutally honest and laugh out loud funny. I didn’t want it to end.”
—Mindy Kaling, New York Times bestselling author of Why Not Me?
With sharp, timely insight, pitch-perfect pop culture references, and her always unforgettable voice, New York Times bestselling author, comedian, actress, and producer Phoebe Robinson is back with her most must-read book yet.
In her brand-new collection, Phoebe shares stories that will make you laugh, but also plenty that will hit you in the heart, inspire a little bit of rage, and maybe a lot of action. That means sharing her perspective on performative allyship, white guilt, and what happens when white people take up space in cultural movements; exploring what it’s like to be a woman who doesn’t want kids living in a society where motherhood is the crowning achievement of a straight, cis woman’s life; and how the dire state of mental health in America means that taking care of one’s mental health—aka “self-care”—usually requires disposable money.
She also shares stories about her mom slow-poking before a visit with Mrs. Obama, the stupidly fake reassurances of zip-line attendants, her favorite things about dating a white person from the UK, and how the lack of Black women in leadership positions fueled her to become the Black lady boss of her dreams. By turns perceptive, laugh-out-loud funny, and heartfelt, Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes is not only a brilliant look at our current cultural moment, it's also a collection that will stay with readers for years to come.
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|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
2020 Was Gonna Be My Year! (LOL)
A year after Mad Men ended, I started watching it, which is very in line with my brand of “refusing to participate in cultural phenomena so as to not do what everyone else is doing even though I’d probably enjoy the very thing I’m missing out on.” Some of you might be thinking, Being left out seems like a curious brand, to which I respond, “Well, we can’t all be goop.” Anyway, once I started watching, I was hooked. The show is such a master class in fashion, screenwriting, and acting that I didn’t mind that it was no longer the topic of watercooler conversation. In fact, everyone moving on to more current shows made me feel as though Men and its numerous iconic moments were just for me. And one scene, in particular, towers above the rest in my opinion: The Time Betty Draper J’d Off.
I know, I know. The show has won Emmys, Golden Globes, and a Peabody Award. Made stars of Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, and January Jones. Helped define the era of Prestige TV and here I am writing about a masturbation scene, but hear me out, y’all. In the 1960s, Betty (sad, lonely trash) is married to an unfaithful Don (hot, tortured trash). On top of the stress from a fractured marriage, Betty is rundown due to raising their two kids by herself, cooking all the meals, and ensuring her hair is always on point. Sure, she’s a white woman with easy‑to‑manage straight hair, so the struggle shouldn’t be real, right? Wrong. Hair is hard no matter the texture, and seeing as I can barely make a tuna melt without sweating out a professionally done hairstyle that’s been sprayed and pinned into place, I feel Betty’s pain of ensuring the pot roast and her curls are poppin’. Moving on.
By the end of the first season, Betty was becoming increasingly depressed and horny. In the eleventh episode, a fine-ass door‑to‑door salesman showed up, talking about measuring her upstairs windows. Betty knew better than to risk it all for casual sex, so she asked him to leave. Then she started fantasizing about the salesman and j’d off by rubbing up against her vibrating Whirlpool washer machine. I immediately had two thoughts:
1. Damn, the 1960s were rooooooooough. I mean, obviously, because of the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Lib, and all that jazz. But we all forget that vibrator technology back then was most likely terrible, since getting intimate with a giant home appliance was best-case scenario. Like, what else were women doing? A Bruce Lee standing split kick against a belt massager while watching The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, just to feel something?
2. Is this what I have to look forward to if I’m ever in a long- term relationship again? I could feel that lonely and unsatisfied even if my partner is there when I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night?
Suffice it to say, I was very single when I watched this Mad Men episode, and this sad housewife story line only reinforced my feelings of not wanting to be in a relationship. Cut to a year later. It was 2017. I met British Baekoff (my bf’s code name because he’s British and likes to bake), and everything I said prior—’ll never date someone younger than me, I’ll never date someone in a creative field, I’ll never be in a long-distance relationship—went out the window. Here was this super interesting, handsome, charming, quick-witted, funny, infinitely talented British guy who was four years younger than me, a former drummer turned tour manager who traveled around the world with bands three hundred days a year and called Portland, Oregon, home when not on the road. More important, like me, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life. The goal was to tour for twenty years (we met eleven years into his career) then settle down in life off the road.
All of which was fine and dandy with me because I wanted to be extremely single. I’m talking no relationship, no to even the occasional date just to spend a couple of hours with someone new, and definitely no to a situationship. When I entered my prev long-term relaysh, I was twenty-seven, and when it ended, I was thirty-one. I needed to get acquainted with the thirties version of Phoebe and find out who I was without a partner by my side.
Still, when there’s a spark, one ought to investigate it, so I did, cautiously. And lo and behold, a month after meeting BB, we were in a long-distance relationship. Not ideal, but I knew what to expect thanks to movies. Or at least I thought I did: a combination of drama-filled fights, missed phone calls, and romantic getaways. Of course, there was some of that with Baekoff and me, but mostly? It was just a lot of . . . scheduling. Just two people looking at their Gcals and trying to make love work. As hard as long- distance dating was, we did it for a year, then moved in together, hoping the pain of being apart would lessen. And guess what?!
Ain’t nothing changed! I mean, he was still gone eight to ten weeks at a time, working eighteen- hour days. The majority of our contact continued to be stolen moments via texts or me staying up until three or four a.m. so we could FaceTime when he was done working. And when we both toured, we were often in different time zones, which meant that we couldn’t check in every day. Then there was the booking of flights to see each other, which was followed by the unbooking of those flights because one of our schedules changed. Missing each other’s important work and family events. Us not being able to hug each other when we had exciting news to share or needed our spirits lifted—or simply because a little physical contact would have been the perfect way to put a button on a disagreement we resolved—was a bummer. Thankfully, so much of the time he was home was lovely and romantic, and deepened our bond. As a result, I cried harder every time one of us had to leave because the longer we dated, the harder being apart became.
So we tried to cope. Date nights via FaceTime. Sending songs that reminded us of each other. Compartmentalizing our brains and hearts—work is the perfect distraction—and yet the ache remained. We were best friends. So on those days when the absence of my best friend felt truly awful, I’d think back to Betty and empathize. No, I wasn’t getting intimate with a home appliance, but I was lonely. And he was, too. That’s why when he decided to come off the road at the end of 2019 in order to start a travel business, I was overjoyed. After twenty-five months of dating, we were finally going to be together together. 2020 was going to be the year we’d be the couple of my dreams and do all the exciting (fly his mom out to New York, as she had never been to America before) and mundane (grocery shopping) things as a duo. Simply put, Baekoff and I were like, “Pass me those sunnies,” because our future looked bright AF and we weren’t afraid to tell the world.
Remember that person who Crip-walked to “Auld Lang Syne” and said “2020 is going to be our year”? And the friend who texted inspirational quote memes in group chats with the message: “Speak it into existence, boo”? And that homie who, on January 5, did a Usain Bolt–esque victory lap while draped in a “New Year, New Me” flag, which, by the way, is just a picture of Oprah holding a bushel of the healthiest-looking kale and frisée lettuce? Well, I. Was. That. Chick. Bae was that chick. Heck, we were all that chick. And who could blame us? We believed the hype that 2020 was ripe with possibility, so we took turns sitting on the Universe’s lap like it was an underpaid and overworked Santa Claus at Dillard’s and we put in our requests and set our intentions.
Cut to the beginning of March 2020. It was still early days in our understanding of Covid and many of us had no idea just how much it was going to upend our lives. Then, by the end of the month, the world stopped and we were all nothing but a bunch of Paul Rudds during his viral appearance on the YouTube series Hot Ones when he said his now- infamous “Hey, look at us. Who would’ve thought? Not me.” Truly, none of us had a damn clue.
I mean, let’s stop for a second and remember March 2020. If you were lucky, you were going from having a rich life outside the home (work, shopping, running errands, visiting friends and family) to abiding by stay‑at‑home orders. Adjusting to 24/ 7 interaction probably made you wonder how many “faux” shits you could take before your significant other / roomies / family members figured out you just wanted to be alone because at that point, the bathroom was the equiv of an Airbnb oasis in Turks and Cai- Cais aka Turks and Caicos.
If you weren’t so lucky, maybe you were sick or dealing with the loss of a loved one to Covid. Or perhaps you were one of the essential workers—nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals, who are disproportionately Black and brown—and on the front lines, risking daily exposure to save lives for a public that was . . . well, how can I put this?
On one hand, there were grateful, conscientious folk: people opened their windows and stood on balconies, cheering for those aforementioned nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals. Families did drive‑by birthday celebrations for elder loved ones so as not to potentially infect another person who could end up in the hospital, or worse. And there were those who were in the position to follow the stay‑at‑home orders and did.
As for that other hand? I hate to write it, but that other hand included a small number of ignorant older white ladies complaining about hair salons being closed, which resulted in these women not being able to maintain their dye jobs. Some older white men didn’t do much better: They protested the quarantine orders and wanted to carry on leaving their homes for any and all nonessential reasons, such as purchasing Miracle-Gro for their grass.
Really?! Huh. Remember the days when marching and being politically disruptive meant you were reacting to injustices such as oh, I don’t know, racism (Civil Rights Movement; Black Lives Matter), corruption within the Communist Party (1989 Tiananmen Square protests), homophobia (Stonewall Uprising), inmate rights (Attica prison riot), economic inequality (Occupy Wall Street), family detention centers and deportation (2018 pro- immigration rallies across America), gun violence (Million Mom March), oppressive regimes and low standards of living (Arab Spring), and violent crimes against women (Take Back the Night), just to name a few? And now, white dudes were out here protesting ’bout not being able to get mulch whenever they wanted? The gahtdamn temerity. White women were raging against the dying of the light . . . color fading from their hair? MUWHAHAHA. The. Irony. Black women have been judged and disparaged for allegedly caring too much about their hair, yet in none of the news packages on these trifling protests did I see a single cocoa Khaleesi. That’s because Black women were up in the crib with bags of wigs, backup packs of hair, Tracee Ellis Ross’s Pattern Beauty products, detanglers, edge control, castor oil, Pink Oil, wide- tooth combs, etc. We stayed ready, so we didn’t have to get ready. In fact, I was so ready that Bae told me because I was constantly doing my hair throughout the apartment, he got used to finding hair in various corners, so he’s now no longer afraid of spiders. That’s right, a bitch cured his arachnophobia and rocked a glistening and healthy ’fro while quarantined. John Frieda salon could never.
Jokes aside, medical workers weren’t the only ones who faced difficulties during Covid‑19. Some folks were (and still are) homeless. Some were (and still are) living in a domestic environment that made quarantining dangerous. While people such as myself were able to work from home, many others were furloughed or lost their jobs and waited on the ill-equipped federal government to hand out insufficient stimulus packages. School closings forced parents to homeschool—that is, if they were fortunate enough to have a computer, internet access, and enough food for their children. Speaking of food, grocery stores and some restaurants couldn’t close because how else were people going to eat? Amazon, UPS, FedEx, and USPS workers couldn’t stay home because how else would we get the items we ordered? And what about people of color who simply needed to go to the pharmacy or buy groceries and did so sans a homemade mask? Not because they were cavalier, but because, as multiple news outlets reported, some Black and brown men, in particular, felt unsafe wearing a handkerchief or anything that didn’t clearly and immediately read as a protective mask for fear of being thought of as a threat. I mean, when I FaceTimed with my dad, who was in Ohio with the rest of my family, and he showed me the homemade masks he’d hand sewn, the first thing I thought was not, My dad rules; he’s so thoughtful and resourceful, but Thank God they are sewn out of plain light gray material and not bandana fabric so some dumbass won’t think my AARP- ged dad is in a gang or going to rob someone. But what about those POC who didn’t have access to non- bandana material and lived anywhere in America, especially my home of NYC, the birthplace of stop and frisk? They either risked exposure to the virus by being outside without a mask or wore a bandana on their face and hoped they wouldn’t be harassed or worse.
Table of Contents
Introduction: 2020 Was Gonna Be My Year! (LOL) 1
Yes, I Have Free Time Because I Don't Have Kids 21
Guide to Being a Boss from Someone Who Has Been Building a Mini Empire for the Past Two Years and Counting 57
Black Girl, Will Travel 133
Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes 171
We Don't Need Another White Savior 207
Bish, What? That's English?!: A Tale of an American Dating a Brit 243
Self-Care Is Not a Candle and Therapy Is Not a Notebook: How We Are Doing the Most and the Absolute Least at the Same Damn Time 269
4C Girl Living in Anything but a 4C World: The Disrespect 295