Rating: •• (Mildly Recommended)
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You can almost hear Bill Cosby’s voice, and his pauses, when you read his new book, I Am What I Ate … and I’m Frightened!! : and Other Digressions from the Doctor of Comedy. Cosby paces and links chapters in this book, allowing readers to savor his humor. Here’s an excerpt, Chapter 7, “Bad at Bouley,” (pp. 51-58):
So I took my wife to Bouley-Bouley, down in lower Manhattan. She knew, of course, that my cholesterol was high. This is generally a very bad time in a husband's life when the wife hears that there is something wrong with the husband. This gives the wife the strength to tell him what to do. I don't know if this causes more love in the marriage, but I know that the wife is in control. And constantly she's saying:
"What are you eating? What is that?"
And I feel like a little boy in school with the teacher scolding me.
Now, Bouley also has a bakery, which was my plan all along. Get near a bakery. Striking distance from a nice baked something with sugar in it.
So we went in the door leading to the restaurant, but you could also see the bakery. And I noticed in the glass enclosure that the Bouley bakery made chocolate chip cookies. And the size of them was absolutely fantastic. I had been looking for that size chocolate chip for a long, long time. You see. Famous Amos—although they are the best chocolate chip cookies you will ever eat—they're very, very small, so you have to put about three or four of them in your mouth in order to get a good taste and feel. And I don't care for the larger cookies although they are tasty and chocolatey.
You have to bite and while chewing you have to hold the cookie so the chocolate begins to melt from the heat of your fingers, making a mess and leaving evidence. But these cookies seemed to be the correct size and would fit into the mouth very comfortably and have that amount already working as you chew—the correct amount of chocolate mixed with the flour and the sugar. And I saw them and Mrs. Cosby didn't.
The maitre d' sat us and the waiter came over and announced that the chef had, in fact, done some marvelous things with a piece of fish. I told Mrs. Cosby that I was going to the bathroom while the waiter explained to my wife what marvelous things had been done to this fish. Something about high altitude and leaving the fish up there for many, many years, and then bringing it back and rolling it in some kind of nuts or something using a family rolling stone. It was amazing. Just wonderful. It sounded delicious.
Obviously, I wasn't going to the bathroom. I went into the bakery. And I walked into the bakery very quickly and I stepped up and the young woman behind the counter smiled and I asked for two chocolate chip cookies. She wanted to put some rubber gloves on but I said:
"Look, dear, I don't have time. The Federales may be coming through any second. Just give them to me. I trust your hands."
And she picked them up and I just pounced on them and stuffed them into my mouth and I chewed quickly. They were delicious. My eyes rolled around and my mouth said, "Thank you so much."
I looked at the girl behind the counter and I said: "How much do I owe you?"
And she looked at me and she said something about that was the fastest she'd ever seen anyone eat them and there was no way to tally whether I had tasted them or eaten them at all so there was no charge. And I thanked her and I went back and I sat down.
When I sat down, the waiter had gone, and now it was just a matter of getting away with what I had done. I tried to be smooth, but my wife had a look on her face that made me waver a little. See, when you're married long enough and when you have been a naughty boy, which I had been, you know that look on your wife's face. And immediately I said to myself, very quietly without moving my lips:
And I was correct. My wife said:
If you are married long enough, you can tell by the tone of your wife's voice when she says your name how deeply in trouble you are from one to ten. Now, my wife is like a lawyer. She doesn't say any- thing without knowing the answer. And so I'm always suspicious. I didn't know how much trouble I was in, but I knew that I had to play it out. I said:
What I was really doing was preparing to carry on this conversation and ask her: "Well, what did you order for me?" But before I could say anything else she said:
"Where did you go?"
I found this to be an opening, which I used to try to deter her from going where I was afraid she was going. So I tried to play on her age and her memory.
"Well, dear, I'm very very surprised and it's sort of sad that you can't remember that I told you I was going to the bathroom."
My wife came back at me—it wasn't cold, it's just that she came back—and she said:
"I know where you told me you were going. I asked you: Where did you go?"
I could only lie.
"Dear," I said. "I went . . ."
I enunciated and crossed the ts.
". . . to the bathroom."
She looked at me and I said calmly:
"I told you that. And that's where I went."
My wife did not blink. She didn't become cold.
She just said:
"Bill. The bathroom is that way."
And she pointed in the opposite direction from where I had just been.
A sort of sweaty feeling came over me. And I bought time—valuable split seconds for my quick mind—which now was in deep, deep trouble—and I said:
"Well. Thisssss . . ."
I made the s sound for at least one second. And then I continued:
". . . is important for you to know, my dear, as you sit here."
And I think it's amazing how the brain can be sent scrambling for an answer while you're sitting there babbling away about something that makes no sense. It does seem to make sense, but if somebody said play that back, the tape would say: We didn't take it down.
"You're absolutely correct," I agreed. "The bathroom is that way, but that bathroom is for the regular people. The celebrity bathroom is that way."
And I pointed in the direction of the bakery, having scored, I thought, big-time. But once again, I should have known that a wife is like a detective. She doesn't ask a question unless she knows the answer. So then she gave me the answer. And I knew
I was in deep trouble because she said my whole name. She said:
"William Henry Cosby Jr. You went into the bakery."
At that point I knew I was done and I was ready to confess. But before I could confess, she added:
"And you bought and ate a chocolate chip cookie."
And all of a sudden, the defense lawyers in my brain went scrambling saying: She's wrong! We've got her! We got her! She's wrong! We've got an out! You did not buy that chocolate chip cookie! So I looked at my wife, and with the swagger of a man who could draw his saber leaving the scabbard rattling away, I drew it out and I said:
"That's where you're wrong, my love. I did not buy and eat a chocolate chip cookie. And I tell you at this table, my love, may God strike me . . ."
At that time, when I said strike, there was a horrible sound of tables moving away from me.
People were dragging their tables away from me. Twenty to thirty people.
"May God strike me dead," I repeated, "if I bought and ate a chocolate chip cookie!"
My wife is a very scientific woman. You cannot defeat her. She looked me in both eyes and said:
"Let me smell your breath."
I was caught. And all I could do was promise I would do better in the future. But the thing about promises is . . .
At which point, Cosby leads readers into Chapter 8, “Promises, Promises.” I am What I Ate has some funny moments, and Cosby lovers will relish this book.
Steve Hopkins, November 24, 2003
ă 2003 Hopkins and Company, LLC
The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the December 2003 issue of Executive Times
URL for this review: http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/Books/I Am What I Ate.htm
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