Ten Questions: Deb Durst and Jill Rubin
Local gals explain the game – sort of
By Kate Morgan

Deb Durst and Jill Rubin like to say they are complete opposites. Durst, of Voorhees, is the life of the party – a sharp-witted Philly girl with a sarcastic streak. Maple Shade’s Rubin, much quieter, is a self-proclaimed shopaholic. But they both share a love of satire, and that becomes apparent in their first book, “There’s Lipstick on My Pigskin!”

How would you describe the concept behind “There’s Lipstick on My Pigskin!”
Deb: Basically we took football terminology and defined it in a female voice. We came up with funny definitions, innuendos and jokes based on traditional football terms. It’s really a crowd pleaser, because the definitions range from funny plays on words to totally inappropriate dirty jokes. Everyone has their favorites. Some readers, men in particular, tend to refer to it as “the perfect bathroom book.” They leave it in the bathroom and get a good chuckle whenever they pick it up. It’s not a book you need to read from cover to cover in one sitting.

You say you’re total opposites. How did two such different people become friends?
Deb: We met years ago at work. When we first met, I avoided Jill at all costs because I truly believed that work is work, and your personal life should be separate. We were both in marketing at the time and our industry was going under quickly, and we were going to be let go. We bonded immediately, because I think we were both looking for something to hold onto. We got through it together.

Jill: She avoided me. She would stand me up. She did it multiple times and every time I would swear, “This is it, that woman will never become part of my life.” Shocking that we should turn into besties. We’re very different, but we’re the same in terms of the things that matter, like honesty and integrity.

How did your friendship translate into you becoming writing partners?
Deb: I love sports. I grew up in a sports family, but Jill does not know a volleyball from a basketball. Once, I was watching a football game and the announcer said a football term and I started to laugh in my head thinking, “Oh my gosh, that could mean something else. I have to tell Jill.”

Jill: We found ourselves on the phone every day, laughing at each other and telling stories, coming up with new ways to define these football terms.

You seem like proud hometown girls. How much of the tone of the book is a product of your upbringing?
Deb: I’ve been in Maple Shade for 22 years, but I was raised in Philadelphia. You can’t grow up there and not be a sports fan. So I provided the grit, and Jill provided the sparkle, the fashion. It’s “Sex and the City” meets sports.

Jill: Well, I grew up in Cherry Hill, and there’s a lot of shopping. That’s probably my favorite pastime. When it comes to sports, I’m clueless, but in a mall, I know what I’m doing. Our personalities are definitely coming through in the book.

When do you write?
Deb: Right now we have two more books in the works, both in the style of “Pigskin,” but about different sports. The next one is hockey. It’s a lot of work but we don’t work on them every day. Sometimes it’s like four days straight that’s all we do, and then we take a little break.

Jill: Deb is the driving force. She sends me terms and tells me I need to write this many definitions; it’s my homework for the day. And then I think and think all day, and as soon as I think I’m not funny anymore I have an epiphany at three in the morning.

It sounds like the book came pretty naturally to you. Was the process smooth?
Deb: I know we make it sound like we were just messing around and then – ta-da – we had a book, but we really did our homework. Jill is a research maven; you give her something you’re not quite sure about, and before you know it she’s got all the answers.

Jill: We should probably mention that Deb has a degree in microbiology and I have a degree in biology, so we’re no strangers to research.

This is clearly a book written by women for women, but do women really need sports terms explained in this way? Do your readers ever feel patronized?
Jill: I think when they meet us and find out we’re definitely on the feminist side, then any feelings of being patronized don’t come into play at all. We’re both extremely independent women. We’re all for women and women’s rights.

Do you have any male fans?
Deb: Men really enjoy it! Actually, believe it or not, the majority of the people coming to the book’s website are men. It’s a 60/40 split. A lot of men already know the real definitions of these football terms, so when a male picks up the book and starts flipping through and sees a term he knows but then reads our definition, he starts to laugh.

What do you hope your readers, male and female, take away from the book?
Jill: Just a chuckle. In this day and age there’s a lot of seriousness. We’re both very philosophical – we realized that if you don’t look at the world with some humor you’re going to be crying every single day. There were days when I worked 18 hours and then someone comes in and says, “Oh, that’s nice, you’re being let go.” You can’t mentally prepare for that, it really is devastating.

Deb: Life’s too short, and it’s your attitude that really determines where you are and how you feel. If we can make somebody laugh and feel better, that’s when I feel touched. We went through some rough times when we lost our positions. You get the fancy clothes and cars and trips, and then when that rug is pulled out from under you it’s an awful feeling. Laughter was our medicine. It got us through. I hope this helps somebody get through something.

What’s your favorite definition in the book?
Deb: We go back and forth about this all the time. The one I tell people to flip to when they first open the book is “chain gang.” We define it as: “A group of Jersey guys in an uptown Manhattan nightclub.” You can just imagine them with chains around their necks and shirts unbuttoned to their bellybuttons and the greased back hair and they just go, “Yo.”

Jill: My favorite is a bit more risqué, probably not the one you’d want to talk about to a perfect stranger. But when you pick up the book, you’ll have to guess which one still makes me laugh every time.

 

December 2014
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