I mentioned earlier that Covert Affairs is TV crack that I can’t stop watching, and I bet you all thought that I had divulged my dirty TV secret to the world, but I didn’t. I have even an deeper, darker TV secret, for which Robin Sparkles is entirely to blame. Are you ready for this? I love Hot in Cleveland. It is a sitcom devoted entirely to sitcom tropes, but it’s pretty well done for a show that focuses on cliches, and there are always great guest stars (hello, Carl Reiner) or completely random guest stars (a Jonas brother. Don’t ask me which one. I don’t know. IMDB it if your Jonas brother affection is limited to one of them). So when I was in the library and saw Betty White’s latest memoir on the new books shelf, I knew that it was something I needed to read, and I snatched it up before any other closet Hot in Cleveland fans could get their hands on it.
As expected, If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) (Penguin 2011) is completely adorable. The book consists of Betty’s thoughts on a variety of topics in two- or three-page snippets, with a focus on 2010, The Year of Betty White, although she doesn’t call it that, more’s the pity. There are also a LOT of photographs, which is good because I like to look at pictures. It makes it read more like a children’s book, which you know we support here at Rampant Reads. You’ll learn about Betty’s affection for Robert Redford – he wrote her a poem! She didn’t share it, unfortunately, but I suppose she doesn’t want to share all the bits and pieces of her life with the world. I’ll hold on to the hope that she’ll change her mind one day, and I’ll be able to read Redford’s opus. If you are an animal lover, you’ll probably get a big kick out of anecdotes about meeting the beluga whales at the Georgia Aquarium (rhymenocerous, take note) or the way that random people bring their dogs to meet her when she’s working on location. The story about her becoming an honorary forest ranger made me tear up a little. She was so excited about it, and she looked really cute in her hat. She got to meet Koko the gorilla on multiple occasions, so now Koko knows her and has named her Lipstick, which might be one of the coolest things ever. I don’t even like animals (step back, animal enthusiasts. I don’t hate animals, nor do I want bad things to happen to them. I just don’t want them on my lap), but I think I’d like to have a gorilla christen me with an appropriate nickname. I’d go around telling people to call me Ginger because Koko does. Or whatever she decided to name me. Betty, perhaps you should consider going by Lipstick all the time. Of course, I can see where you might be concerned that people would think you were a member of Vanessa Huxtable’s band The Lipsticks, and Claire has made it perfectly clear how unacceptable the amount of makeup and lack of clothing inherent in being a member of the Lipsticks is, so it’s probably safer to stick to Betty so that there’s no confusion. (Sidebar – why did Bill Cosby not get Betty White on The Cosby Show? Maybe he tried and she declined. I learned that she declined SNL all those years because she didn’t think she was New York enough. Perhaps she didn’t think she was New York enough for The Cosby Show, either. If that’s true, then it is a very unfortunate state of affairs because by now we’ve seen that her performance on SNL was epic. I would think that Betty White + Bill Cosby = Comedy Gold. I suppose we’ll never know.)
I’ll leave the rest to you to discover. Betty touches on topics like awards, acting, friendship, aging and her day-to-day life. She tells you what to send her fan mail about that will guarantee an answer (don’t abuse this one). The whole thing reinforces my impression that she is a delightful woman. Plus, she wrote the entire book out in longhand, which I find especially impressive since my writing style is not conducive to that AT ALL. I hope you’ll enjoy this memoir even if you are not a Hot in Cleveland fan, closet or otherwise. At this point, it’s practically un-American not to love Betty White.