The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge, Germophobia, and Laser Hair Removal

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge, Germophobia, and Laser Hair Removal

by Laurie Notaro


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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Laurie Notaro has an uncanny ability to attract insanity—and leave readers doubled over with laughter. Need proof? Check out The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death and try not to bust a gut.

Join Notaro as she experiences the popular phenomenon of laser hair removal (because at least one of her chins should be stubble-free); bemoans the scourge of the Open Mouth Coughers on America’s airplanes and in similarly congested areas; welcomes the newest ex-con (yay, a sex offender!) to her neighborhood; and watches, against her own better judgment, every Discovery Health Channel special on parasites and tapeworms that has ever aired—resulting in an overwhelming fear that a worm the size of a python will soon come a-knocking on her back door.

In Notaro’s world, strangers are stranger than fiction. One must always check the hotel bathroom for hobo hairs and consciously remember not to stare at old men with giant man-boobies. And then there are the lessons she has learned the hard way: Though it may seem like a good idea, it’s best not to hire a tweaked-out homeless guy to clean up your yard.

The Plain Dealer says that Laurie Notaro is “a scream, the freak-magnet of a girlfriend you can’t wait to meet for a drink to hear her latest story.” With The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, Notaro proves she’s not only funny but resigned to the fact that you can’t look bad ass in a Prius. Don’t even try.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812975741
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2009
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 535,851
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Laurie Notaro was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She packed her bags for Eugene, Oregon, once she realized that since she was past thirty, her mother could no longer report her as a teenage runaway. She is the author of The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club, Autobiography of a Fat Bride, I Love Everybody, We Thought You Would Be Prettier, An Idiot Girl’s Christmas, and the novel There’s a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell. She is currently at work on a plan B (to take effect when her book contract runs out), which includes selling hot dogs at Costco, selling hot dogs from a street cart, selling hot dogs at high school football games, or being the stop sign holder for road construction crews. At press time, she is still married, and she has an adorably disobedient dog that wears sweaters and loves chicken strips. (Clearly, Notaro has no children.)

Read an Excerpt

The Lodgers

It could not have sounded more divine. 

Tall, shadowy pine trees; a bubbling creek with clear, pure water; meadow upon meadow of swaying wildflowers; temperature in the seventies, and a cute little log cabin with a loft at a lodge. 

When my husband suggested we get away for the weekend and celebrate my birthday in the White Mountains, I couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. 

To Arizonans, the White Mountains are an incredible escape a mere four hours’ drive away; to the rest of the world, they’re the place where logger Travis Walton said he got sucked up by a UFO and then disappeared for five days while aliens put things in places unseemly. To me, they were a place with no phones, no television sets, no computers, no fax machines, just a cabin with a wood-burning stove, a feather bed, and a forty-degree drop in temperature, which I especially needed since I had just received a zipper burn on the back of my neck from my dress by engaging in the mortally dangerous activity of going to get the mail while it was still sunny outside. 

When I told my mother about my birthday plans, she simply said, “Must be a popular place. Your sister is heading up there, too, but at least her boyfriend sprang for a fancy hotel. Why won’ t your husband pay for a hotel? Why are you staying in an old shack with a woodstove? How can that be fun? I bet you’ll leave with a nice case of lice.” 

“We’re not staying in a shack. It’s a cabin with a feather bed and a loft,” I said, thinking that she was one to talk. I’ve spent a great deal of time and effort in therapy trying to forget the majority of my family summer vacations. They were spent driving roughly far enough into the desert and away from our house that we couldn’t physically run back to it after it was discovered that my parents had only sprung for one hotel room for the five of us and it was 117 degrees outside, making escape far too sweaty an option. To make matters even more closely resemble the comfort level of Guantanamo Bay, my mother consistently struck a claim for one of the double beds as we entered the room by throwing her purse on it, digging out her bottle of Tylenol and her pack of Winstons, and then sprawling out with her eyes closed and her hand over her head. This not only left the rest of the family one bed for cramped quarters but created an undeniable bounty of opportunity for pinching, slapping, and pushing between my sisters and me and sometimes even my dad, to which my mother would respond by roaring from her yacht of a bed two feet away, “SHUT UP all of you! If you people haven’t noticed, I’m on VACATION!” We were additionally blessed as a slight, cool drizzle fell like mist as soon as we drove into the lodge driveway and then checked in. As I opened the door to the White Mountains cabin, it was exactly as I had pictured it–well, outside of the shag rug and the black fur of mold in the shower. My husband sighed peacefully, put his hands on his hips, and looked around. “A whole weekend of this!” he commented excitedly. “Can you even believe it? Listen. I don’t hear a thing but that slight prattle of rain hitting the tin roof.” 

“Wow,” I said, smiling wide. “To think, four hours ago, the seat belt left a burn so extensive we could have added a side of A.1. and called it dinner.” 

I unzipped my bags and unpacked my array of snack options, then stood gazing out the window at the steady, patient dribble of rain. My husband spread out on the couch and cracked open a book. “This is the life,” he said with a smile before he started to read. 

“Wow,” I said, still staring out the window. “You gotta love this rain.” 

“Yep,” my husband said without looking up from his book. 

“Love the rain,” I added. “Oh, I do, I do. I dooooo.”  

I walked around the cabin, rolled around on the feather bed, and when I was done, it was still raining. 

“What time is it?” I asked. 

“Two-thirty,” my husband answered, and returned to his book. 

“Hmmmm,” I pondered aloud. “Are you hungry?” 

“You just ate a pack of Twinkies, four bags of chocolate Twizzlers, and twenty-two servings of Funyuns on the way up here,” he said, not looking at me. “I got full just by watching you.” I walked around the cabin again, checked for stains on the sheets, and to see if the people before us had left any foreign hairs in the bathroom, because even though my own bathroom may be filthy as a truck stop, I at least know the filth is mine and from where it has emanated. Strange, unknown filth is another story altogether, and I am saddened to report that an errant hair– belonging to neither my husband nor myself–made a rather obnoxious appearance at the bottom of a hot tub in our hotel room and absolutely ruined our wedding night. My new husband, however, was not grossed out enough to refrain from pointing the video camera at it and pressing the record button, leading to an odd and uncomfortable situation later when my family viewed our honeymoon tape, thus forcing my mother to drag me into the kitchen to say, “That in there is a little sick. It’s not too late. The pope will understand. You can still walk away.” 

After not finding any hobo hairs in the shower, I climbed up to the loft and looked at the rain from the window up there. 

“What time is it?” I called from the loft. 

“Two thirty-two,” my husband answered with a sigh. 

“Are you hungry yet?” I asked. 

“Let’s play a game,” my husband suggested. “We could play ‘I’ll Give You a Dollar for Every Hour That You Don’t Speak a Word.’” 

“Hmmm, that’s odd,” I said. “Across the way at the lodge, a person on the third floor just looked directly at me and then shut their curtains really fast, like in a huff!” 

“Why are you spying on people, Mrs. Kravitz?” he replied. 

“Please come down from there before we find out that the person you’re spying on is a sniper.” 

“I’m not spying,” I insisted. “I’m just . . . soaking in my surroundings. I’m taking in the scenery, and discovering who our fellow lodgers are.” 

“You know, this is how Hitchcock movies start,” he warned me. “And then before you know it, I’ll be the one running through a cornfield being stalked by a crop duster because my wife had to spend her birthday peeking in other people’s windows.” 

“I saw something in the window and I looked as an automatic reflex.You know that I am curious by nature,” I said. “If it was a pubic hair, you’d be the one taking pictures of it by now.” 

“And you were the one who said, ‘Don’t worry, my parents will think it’s funny,’” he responded. “Now they look at me like I showed them a movie of what happened in that hot tub before we even got there.” 

“Oh, shut up, they totally thought it was funny,” I said as I climbed down the ladder from the loft. “I’m going to take a walk around the pond, see what I can see.” 

“You mean spy,” my spouse said. 

“I mean see,” I iterated. “There’s a little lake next to the lodge, I’m just going to go down and poke around.” 

“All right, fine, I’ll come with you,” he said, putting his book down. “I don’t want to get a knock on the door in an hour telling me that you’ve lodged yourself in a dumbwaiter or gotten stuck in a tree trying to get a better view inside of someone’s room, Harriet the Spy.” 

As we left the cabin, I noticed a sweet scene near the lake as a young mother lifted her rather new infant up out of the stroller and faced the baby toward the water. “Look at that new mom showing her baby the ducks and the ducklings!” I exclaimed. 

“How cute. Isn’t that cute?” 

“It’s all adorable,” my husband said as he put his arm around me tenderly. 

“Did you just see that?” I gasped as I pointed to the thirdfloor window of the lodge. “The curtain in that window whipped closed the second I looked up there!”  

“I will give you two dollars for every ten minutes you don’t peek into someone else’s room,” my husband said. “Or dessert! I’ll buy dessert!” 

Customer Reviews

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Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge, Germophobia, and Laser Hair Removal 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quick, fun read.
McCreamy More than 1 year ago
I am planning on buying more books from this author. I laughed the entire time!
Angela2932ND More than 1 year ago
Somehow, I felt totally inappropriate, and perhaps immature, enjoying this book as much as I did, but I did, and I might not let too many people other than you know how much I enjoyed it! This book is laugh-out-loud funny! Laurie Notaro's experiences are quirky all in themselves, but it's her perceptions and wit, and how frighteningly close her thoughts are to your own thoughts about situations (but you'd refrain from saying them outloud) that make this book hysterical. Because this book is a set of her reflections, any chapter can be read on its own, and a few of the reflections did make me cringe (not in a good way)--like the bathroom humor, but over-all, it's a nice, non-serious, read that is guaranteed not to strain any brain cells.
GlassLady1 More than 1 year ago
This has got to be the funniest book I have ever read. I didn't dare take it with me for fear of making a fool of myself by uproariously laughing in the Dr office or other places where I usually take a book to bide my time waiting, A must read for the sheer joy of reading something funny.
EvelynBernard on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a gift - I don't normally gravitate to humour. To my surprise, I laughed out loud on numerous occassions. It was easy to relate to the situations described by the author - after all, who hasn't tried a diet, moved, shopped, been on vacation.The chapter about waiting for the treadmill repairman alone makes this book worth reading - I would read more of Ms. Notaro's work.
curvymommy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had been waiting for this book for so long. I'm a HUGE fan of this author, and have loved all her previous essay books. In fact, they are some of the few books that have earned "keeper" status - I don't swap them. This book did NOT disappoint.HILARIOUS!! I was laughing out loud throughout, and I think I actually snort-laughed at one point even. The essay on "It's all good" was so so funny - I'm laughing again just thinking about it. The story of her adventures on a cruise ship - priceless! I could really relate to the whitewater rafting trip. I must be an idiot girl, because the author feels like a good friend to me. :)I stayed up all night (despite the fact that I had to be up at 6am for work, even!) reading this, because I could not put it down. Highly recommended! :) Can't wait for her next essay book!
LisMB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
funny, funny, funny. I probably would not have normally picked this out, but I am a sucker for vintage carnival, showgirl, etc pictures and this caught my eye. So glad I brought this read home. I was laughing, giggling and smiling during these stories. Several times I couldn't catch my breath I was laughing so hard.I really really enjoyed this and bought a copy for my mother and one for a friend.
liblor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As usual, very funny from Ms. Notaro. A little too heavy on the germophobia for my tastes, but I definitely laughed out loud often (and I'm not usually a loud laugher!).
HELLOKITTYISPRETTY on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is SO hilarious. I discovered it from a blog I frequent. I found myself laughing outloud several times (ask Mike). I enjoy her honest writing style, attitude,and humor. On more than one occassion in the book - I've totally identified with her germophob antics and her embarassing moments. If you want a entertaining book after reading a heavy one (like Thousand Splendid Suns) I HIGHLY reccommend it. ps. if you have an iphone - this is one of the free random house books on Stanza. enjoy!
harperhaven on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was ok. There were some laughs and it was a fast read.
agirlandherbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The latest Idiot Girl dispatches from Eugene, Oregon -- psychotic family members, buying a house, water in the basement, and helping a dog cross the Rainbow Bridge, then welcoming another. Don't read this book while drinking or eating -- you'll spew from laughing.
Liabee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very funny vignettes, if a little manic. I cried with laughter on the "C" train while reading about germs and had to put the book away.
Staciele on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even though it wasn't the kind of book I was expecting, Notaro kept me interested and laughing!! I would read more of her stuff. Great for a light, fun read!
butterflybaby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this book as a free download. I read it just recently when my husband and I went on a road trip. It was a great vacation read. Several times I found myself laughing out loud. The chapters are little anecdotes. I think anyone (mostly female) would relate to Notaro's view on things like germaphobia, revenge and dogs.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to Laurie Notaro¿s books back in 2007, when I inadvertently stumbled across a copy of The Idiot Girls¿ Action Adventure Club. Since then, I¿ve read each of her collections of essays (except the one about Christmas), and I¿ve enjoyed them immensely. That¿s why I was thrilled to pick up a copy of her latest.Notaro¿s essay collections are laugh-out-loud funny, and Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death joins her sisters' ranks. By far my favorite essay was the one after which this book was named¿only the day before, I¿d had my very own sort-of Laurie moment behind the wheel of my car (except I didn¿t react nearly the same way as she did). I also greatly enjoyed Laurie¿s story about taking a cruise. I was a little bit put off by the potty humor in this book, but I guess that¿s what she¿s known for. Other than that, though, this book had me rolling in my seat with laughter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Horrible and not funny as was described
D_SS More than 1 year ago
I found this collection of stories very entertaining. I like to read before I turn the light off each night. The stories are just the right length to complete at least one each night.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
some vignettes were quite funny and enjoyable and some were a chore to read though. a married lady with no kids, so i do not have a lot in common. those in the same social situation may enjoy this more than i did.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never read anything from this author before. It is not my usual genre, but it had good reviews and I was looking for something funny for a change of pace. I was very pleasantly surprised. It was a quick read and I think that at one point I actually snorted out loud! It is a series of essayes or reflections on moments of the author's life. Very funny stuff! I think maybe not so much for the prim and proper, but I found her take on things (open-mouth coughers for example) to be my sense of humor entirely. I will definitely look for more from her! -- SPeeD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My husband hates when I read her books because I always stay up far too late dreading and wake him up with my giggling. Love her books!
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