Picks and Pans Review: A Girl's Guide to Chaos

UPDATED 02/15/1988 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/15/1988 at 01:00 AM EST

Cynthia Heimel

Hysterical, hilarious, a laugh riot, witty, ribald, sidesplitting, knee-slapping, a real stitch, a yuk a minute: These words are among those that should—but do not—apply to this compilation of brief essays and a play (the title piece) based on Heimel's columns for Playboy and the Village Voice. A reservation: To call something a play suggests character and plot development. Chaos is a play only in the sense that it has been spoken by actors at a theater. Heimel's tiresome opus is made up of the loud, screechy yammerings of Cynthia, Cleo and Rita, who are looking for love and/ or sex in all the wrong places. The alleged humor is often based on non sequiturs: Cynthia observes that "we don't know where to turn or what to think. We lie in bed in the morning, desperately searching for a reason to get up. We often wonder if we're in the mood for a sandwich or not." Women talking openly about their sexual desires is perceived as humorous in itself. Actually Heimel does achieve something notable with Chaos. In a 72-page script she manages to offend women (via her three main characters), heterosexual men (they're viewed as wimps or cads) and homosexuals (limp-wristed sissies). "Feeling peckish," says Cynthia, recording one gruesome day. "Go to the grocery store. Notice two cute guys. Follow one to frozen foods, where other cute guy is waiting. 'Shall we have lima beans tonight?' first guy asks second guy. Second guy bursts into tears. 'You know I hate lima beans,' he sobs." There is one very smart, funny treatise on dating: "Men like high heels right? I can't walk in high heels. Well, I can try. For a really important date I can just see myself spending $250 on a pair of drop-dead heels. This time will be different, I'll tell myself, this time I will be able to walk. But after an hour the ball of my foot will cramp up. I know it and I'll hobble...I won't be able to say, These shoes are crippling me and if I don't take them off this minute I'll be maimed for life!' Because then he'll know I just bought them, that I bought them to go out on a date with him." Too little, too late. (Fireside, $6.95)

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