He has already begun playing two songs for his family and associates, he said. “I showed my makeup artist the other day,” Mr. Smith said, “and she burst into tears.”                                                                                                                                                ———-from an article about the singer Sam Smith, in the New York Times


“What’s the difference between pathetic and bathetic?” Colette asked.

“Pathetic implies some sharing of suffering, some compassion,” I said. “Bathetic is sitting in the bathtub weeping because you have the most miserable, loneliest life of all.”

Bathtub. Sure. I bet Mr. Smith can dial it up in the shower.

We got talking about Roz Chast’s Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant, a graphic memoir about her parents’ aging and dying. “I don’t know why so many people write about these subjects now,” Mark said, “as if they were the only ones going through them. I don’t need to read about it. I know it in my own life.”

It’s what I feel about most memoirs, an irritation that someone is hogging the conversation. I avoid running with scissors lest I trip and be sliced into a million wild little glass castles. But then, I adored The Liar’s Club. A best book ever. And I loved the Chast book.

Pathetic. How did it get to be such a pathetic word? Hook it with em- or sym- and it shows its true nature, its power of connection.

Bathetic. Careful, Mr. Smith, you don’t slip on the soap.



  1. Hahaha!!! Loved it. I also have Roz Chast
    memoir. Love love it!! Ok back to my bathtub.


  2. Yes. We do “know it in our own life.” But Chast helps us relate with a light heart. Lucipathy?

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