After chewing you up and spitting you back out, New York makes no apologies. This was a tough pill to swallow for young Midwestern transplant Laura Clery, who would eventually go on to become the creator and star of the YouTube and Facebook Video sensation, Help Helen Smash.
With just forty dollars in her pocket and the phone number of a man she couldn’t quite remember, Laura packed her bags and set off for the Big Apple. Little did she know the city of lights and dreams was also filled with crammed apartments, grimy public restrooms, and a whole lot of smug strangers.
Laura Clery—the vegan yogi and comedic actress of today—was not always so put together. In her first-ever book, Idiot, she recounts the tales of the broke, spontaneous, drug-addicted lifestyle she lived as a young, impulsive, self-described “idiot.”
From her questionable choices to her heartwarming realizations, Idiot reminds us all that even if we’ve hit rock bottom—or sunk ten feet below that—one day we will finally figure it out. Being a clueless, frantic idiot is all a part of the process.
Read a special excerpt from Laura Clery’s Idiot and watch a video of Laura interviewing her Help Helen Smash character below:
I had one suitcase, one plane ticket, forty dollars in my pocket, and a napkin with Damon’s address written on it. I was off.
Here’s what I DIDN’T have: a cell phone or any kind of plan.
Looking back, I am now fully aware of how dangerous this was. This impulsive girl who hopped over to New York without a second thought is WAY DIFFERENT TODAY. Now, my idea of “dangerous” is binge watching Netflix until two a.m. because I might not get my full eight hours. (Good sleep is better than sex, you guys.)
But eighteen-year-old me was desperate for adventure. Which might just be a nice way of saying batshit crazy. Jury’s still out.
When I climbed off the plane at JFK Airport, I was basically a bright-eyed suburban girl hopping off a plane in the big city, carrying a big suitcase and even bigger dreams!
I was ready for my musical number to start. Hello angry people at baggage claim! Hello strange smells where they shouldn’t be! Hello homeless person squatting on the curb! The kindness of the city was everywhere! A friendly-looking middle-aged man with an exotic accent approached me, offering to drive me to my destination in his unmarked taxi. Shucks, how lucky am I!
I enthusiastically said yes as I politely asked him to watch my suitcase while I used the restroom. As I was peeing (and probably humming show-tunes to myself), I looked around the bathroom stall. Someone had written SUCK A DICK, GEENA on the wall. I suddenly noticed the traces of piss on the floor, the highly questionable brown smear on the stall door. Oh God, it’s disgusting here. Oh God, I let a random man watch my bag. Oh my God, oh my God. I wiped my vag and ran out as fast as I could.
He was still there, bag in hand. Whew. Great! This, of course, was a sign that nothing bad would ever happen to me! I hopped into his unmarked taxi and read the address of my—now wrinkled and torn—napkin, “Twenty-Second and Ninth, please.” Damn, I sounded official.
When we arrived, I asked the cabbie if he would let me borrow his cell phone.
I nervously called Damon.
“Hey! I’m outside your apartment.”
I anxiously waited in the backseat and looked around the busy street. Was that guy Damon? Nope. Was . . . that guy? It suddenly hit me . . . I didn’t remember what the fuck he looked like. He was definitely white. He had black hair. Or wait, was he blond and it was just dark outside? And . . . two eyes, for sure.
A twentysomething-year-old guy with disheveled hair and a beautiful face ran up to the cab, in shock. It was as if HE couldn’t believe I’d actually come. And he was wearing . . . bright red lipstick. Umm . . . lipstick? Now I was the one who was shocked.
“Laura!” he said.
He kissed my cheek, getting lipstick all over it. What had I gotten myself into?
We walked up four flights of seemingly never-ending stairs, and he opened the door to the smallest studio apartment I had ever seen. It was smaller than an elementary school bathroom. No furniture. Just a gross twin-size mattress on the floor.
The studio was decorated with wine bottles, ashtrays, and one green light. Which looks VERY MENACING, I MIGHT ADD.
I tried to diffuse my nervousness with a joke. “You okay? You’re looking a little . . . GREEN HA-HA!”
“What? No, I’m fine,” Damon said with concern.
“I’m talking about the light.”
“Oh, no. I’m not sick. It’s just the light.”
Right. This was going to be rough.
He picked up one of the wine bottles. “Want a drink?”
Oh thank God. Don’t mind if I do!
Soon enough, my drunk, naïve, Midwestern ass thought the green light was very, very cool; the apartment was cozy rather than suffocating; and the Frank Sinatra playing on a cassette player was intentionally hip rather than a random thing that Damon found on the street. This place was awesome!
Excerpted from Idiot by Laura Clery. Copyright © 2019 by the author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.