In her witty new book I Totally Meant to Do That, Jane Borden describes the ways the spoken and unspoken rules of Southern courtesy, which had been dutifully drilled into her during her childhood, failed to prepare her for life in New York. A native Tar Heel now living in Brooklyn, she calls herself a hybridized "hipster-debutante." After a few years in the city, a seemingly innocuous visit back home moved her aunt to send her a book on etiquette. It was then that she realized just how far she'd drifted from her Southern-belle roots.
Borden edits the comedy section for Time Out New York and performs with a long-form improv group, Junior Varsity, which played the N.C. Comedy Arts Festival last month in Carrboro. She has honed a sharp ear for comedy that informs her book's wry tales of maladaptation. In an early chapter, she tells how, just a few days after her move to New York, she realized that the facial pain and headaches she was experiencing weren't due to TMJ syndrome: "No wonder my jaw was sore: I'd been smiling at everyone. In New York, that's more than a dozen times per block, times a ten-block walk, is at least 120 per outing. I had a new exercise regimen after all."
Tonight's reading in Chapel Hill (where Borden graduated from UNC with a degree in religious studies) starts at 7 p.m. She will also give a reading on March 23 at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh at 7:30 p.m. —Marc Maximov