Author Scott E. Blumenthal Thinks He’s a Better Father Than You. He’s Not.
This month, I had the “pleasure” of interviewing author Scott E. Blumenthal about his upcoming parenting manual, You Don’t Need a Hammer, Wrench, or Screwdriver When You’re a Complete Tool: A Dad’s All-in-One Guide to Imperfect Parenting. I assure you that I had zero interest in doing so, but it was either that or some fatherhood conference in Massapequa, NY, and the last thing I need is to listen to a bunch of weenies talk about their feelings for three hours. So interview it was. Easy version. Once the office intern (Alexis or whatever) set up the interview at Barnes & Nobles, all I had to do was show up, hit record on my Samsung, and tell Alexis to type everything up. Easy as pie.
Gary Tanbaum: So, Mr. Blumenthal, what makes you think you’re qualified to write a parenting manual?
Scott Blumenthal: (Laughs.) Well, I’m not, really. You’re a Complete Tool is actually a satire of a parenting manual--a send-up of the “rules” and “wisdom” dads are bombarded with every day. It’s meant as a fun way for dads to sneak away from real life for a few minutes here and there to laugh about the pressures they--
GT: See, that’s what gets me about you people. No one asked for your advice, yet here you are spewing it. (Mr. Tanbaum sighs deeply. There is a long pause.) [Mr. Tanbaum: Should I keep notes like these in here, to give readers a sense of pacing? –Ashley] I think I speak for fathers everywhere when I say the last thing we need is more unsolicited advice.
SB: I agree completely! That’s exactly why--
GT: Okay. Fine. Whatever. Let’s move on, Mr. Blumenthal. (Mr. Tanbaum sighs again.) It says here that you worked as a senior blah blah in children’s publishing for whatever number of years, wrote some random children’s books, won blah blah awards for some random coming-of-age novel, and managed to procreate a couple of times. (Pause.) Congratulations on all that.
SB: Um…thank you.
GT: If you rolled all of that stuff together, Mr. Blumenthal, how much would you say it qualifies you to tell our readers how to parent? On a scale of 1 to 10, let’s say.
SB: Well…uh…a really low number, I guess. But again, I’m not--
GT: Zero, Mr. Blumenthal. The answer is zero. Zee. Roh.
SB: That’s probably true! (Mr. Blumenthal laughs, likely to allay what one can assume is a fair amount of tension.)
GT: Wow. Just wow. (The following is very loud in the recording, presumably because Mr. Tanbaum is speaking close to the microphone.) And this is who we have writing our parenting manuals, people. (Mr. Tanbaum sighs. Volume returns to normal here.) Fine. You know what? Go ahead and do your thirty-second plug. This skinny cinnamon dolce latte cost the magazine five dollars, and it ain’t gonna drink itself.
SB: (Speaking quickly.) Um…okay. The goal of You’re a Complete Tool is to give dads an opportunity to laugh at themselves. To feel better about the highly imperfect job we’re all doing as fathers. I’ll be releasing sections of the book, one at a time, on my website and on Twitter. The first few chapters, including “Bottles vs. Boobs: Which Will You Need More?” will be available soon, as will You’re a Complete Tool: The All-in-One Parenting Podcast for Dads, which I’m doing with Michael Marino, co-founder of The Straight Beef. The first episode lists the six most insufferable types of parents, like the Just-you-wait-owitz, who--
GT: Oh, there’s a podcast, too? Fantastic—the world needs another podcast! Not. (Mr. Tanbaum again speaks close to the microphone) Alexis, next time I’ll take the wah-wah weenie conference, go it? (There is a long, presumably awkward pause. Mr. Blumenthal can be heard sipping determinedly at his beverage.)
SB: Hey, isn’t that the lead singer from Nickelback?
GT: Chad Kroeger? Where?
SB: He just ducked into the New Fiction section.
GT: You’d better not be messing with me, Blumenthal. I’m going over there, and if that wasn’t Chad Kroeger, so help me I’m going to-- (The recording ends here.)