It is appropriate that I’ve Had Bigger and Other Things My Wife Said by Michigander extraordinaire, Jeff Rice, was published on April 1, 2014. It is a book of pranks in which everyday is April Fool’s Day. Jeff Rice tries to get his new bride, Julie (pictured below), to say common, but often outlandish phrases through foolish antics. Phrases include “Are You Wearing Underwear?”; “You Smell Like an Old Lady”; and “That’s What She Said.”
I met Jeff Rice at a sprawling mansion in a Detroit-area suburb. I parked my compact Toyota amongst the Rolls Royces and the Maybachs (yes, plural) that were parked in the driveway. Jeff greeted me wearing his signature look: an over-sized black t-shirt; baggy black jeans; a cock-eyed, flat-billed hat; and a giant clock hanging from a gold-plated chain around his neck. We sat in wing-backed chairs in front of an expansive fireplace while we discussed the art of his craft. Not! April Fools! We corresponded via email.
Michiganders Post: The premise for your book is very funny. How did you come up with it?
Jeff Rice: I never intended for this to be a book actually. I had always wanted an excuse to write on a semi-daily basis, but lacked the motivation. This blog gave me a topic and the forum to hopefully find an audience. The idea of getting my wife to say a phrase without her knowledge appealed to me because it was a challenge, and keeping her from finding out added to the adventure.
MP: Which phrase gave you the most trouble?
JR: “I Am So Bored.” It took me two tries to complete. I didn’t expect it to be that difficult compared to some of the other phrases. I guess, in the modern age, boredom is a thing of the past.
MP: Were there moments when your wife, Julie, should have picked up on something that slipped, but she didn’t?
Honestly, there were a lot of moments. Contrary to what many readers might imagine, I’m not as animated in the evenings as I was when completing these challenges. I often fall asleep on the couch prior to 9:00 p.m. There were also the moments when people tried to “assist” by bringing up the blog in conversation around Julie. I don’t think, despite knowing my maturity level, that Julie ever imagined I would do anything this childish.
MP: Would you have done anything in your first year of marriage, including this book, differently?
JR: No. In the first three months of our marriage, I grew a mustache and began this blog. I wouldn’t recommend doing either. But marriage is all what you make of it, and Julie and I do what we can to make it fun and keep things interesting. Sometimes that means screaming at each other, and sometimes we just yell at each other. As for the blog and the book, I reflect on it sometimes and think I should have kept it going in some capacity, even once she discovered its existence. We have a daughter now, so perhaps that is the avenue that I will explore next. I just need to teach her a few new phrases first!
Part 2: Midwest Lint
MP: In addition to being a writer, you are also a t-shirt kingpin. How did your t-shirt company, Midwest Lint, come about?
JR: Midwest Lint came about as a way for a group of friends to have some local t-shirts for us to wear. We noticed that the majority of the Flint and Detroit t-shirts focused on the negative aspects of the cities. We didn’t want to celebrate the fact that Detroit and Flint had violent statistics tied to their reputations. Instead, we wanted to focus on the positive aspects – places we remember growing up, local sports teams, and quirky catch phrases that people in Michigan will enjoy.
MP: Which designs have been your most popular?
We have two that are consistently fighting for the title of “most popular” design. “Autoworld” and “I Still Call It Pine Knob” seem to touch people with a hint of nostalgia. Also, during the college football season, the Wolverine fans have purchased a large number of “Hokeamania” and “Hail Yes” shirts.
MP: Which design are you most proud of?
Being a Spartan, I am most proud of the “Dantonio Banderas” design. It was the first design we ever offered, and the sheer ridiculousness of it still makes me laugh.
Part 3: Michigan
MP: If you were Governor for a day, what would be your first action?
JR: Since it’s fresh in my mind, I would declare Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers as a state-wide holiday and give everyone the day off.
MP: Do you think the Upper Peninsula should be its own state?
Absolutely not. It’s a beautiful addition to Northern Michigan that adds to the uniqueness of our lovely state. Also, come on, where else can you get fudge like that?
MP: Which Great Lake is your favorite?
JR: Fife Lake. I enjoy spending time during the summers on that lake, and it’s great!