Roger Loring: Revealing Truth through Comedy in Why Men Don’t Ask for Directions
Roger Dale Loring, author of Why Men Don’t Ask for Directions, is a man of countless insights with a delightful sense of humor. Loring’s book, a new title from Belle Isle Books, shares his unusual perspective and his uncanny ability to make anyone laugh. What makes his work unique is that he utilizes this strength to offer lighthearted social commentary. Why Men Don’t Ask for Directions is a collection of humorous essays that explores a range of subjects. Loring includes observations on everything from the role of psychic predictions in society to the hidden dangers of political campaigns; proving that nothing escapes his scrutiny or his snide remarks.
What has now developed into his trademark humor began as a simple love of laughter that Loring inherited from his parents. On any given day, his childhood home was full of mirth, as the laughter of six children would echo off the walls. Growing up in this environment taught him that “the world has enough problems as it is, so [he should] avoid taking things too seriously.” That philosophy stuck with him throughout the years and has now been incorporated into his prose.
One chapter in his book debates the value of making lists. Loring, a self-proclaimed list addict, writes a list that outlines his plans for each day. His wife is just the opposite; she is the picture of spontaneity and the embodiment of his philosophy to avoid taking things too seriously. She thinks his list making is limiting, so in an attempt at levity he adds “be spontaneous” to his list, proving once and for all that he is not a “computerized robot.”
Below its surface, this exchange reflects a greater problem. He admits that, as a society, “we are too rigid” and we all need more laughter in our lives. While his story conveys this message, he does so in an impressively delicate manner. This ability to convey a point with a dexterous blend of subtly and forcefulness may have developed during his years as a teacher. Loring, a native of Keokuk, Iowa, spent over thirty years teaching in Gloucester, Virginia, dividing that time between teaching elementary school, high school, and coaching basketball. To perform well in his teaching jobs, Loring had to teach his students to think for themselves. He may not have realized it at the time, but his upbringing, paired with his profession, was helping him develop what would become his signature writing style and tone.
“I’ve been writing all my life,” Loring admits, “but I don’t know if I’ve ever been inspired.” Rather, ideas simply come to Loring, for him, it’s the writing process that’s difficult. He says he works diligently on his writing and then he edits his work repeatedly. Whenever he re-reads his work, he tries to think of ways it could be better. To prevent this process from being never ending, he has placed a limit on how many times he looks over his work. The editing process can be frustrating, and Loring offers this advice, “If you like to write, just write. Don’t give up.” He does add a cautionary statement, “if you’re in it to be Steven King, I can’t relate to you. I write just for me.”
Loring never set out to write a book, he quips “I just like writing. I don’t have the attention span to write an actual book.” Loring is more comfortable writing topical essays and, in truth, his voice shines in the short segments. He may not have ambitions to write the next big novel, but that may be a good thing. That means the readers get to hear Loring’s perspective on countless topics and that variety is both lively and engaging.
His passion for written art is refreshing, as is his point of view. He doesn’t write to achieve fame, he writes because he enjoys the act of writing. Humbly, Loring says, “I don’t know what’s unique about me.” After reading Why Men Don’t Ask for Directions, it was obvious what made Loring’s work special. It is not his humor that makes him unique, nor his ability to convey a subtle message, but rather it is the invaluable combination of these two traits. In relation to what the future holds, Loring is still writing and has an idea for another book. He jokes, “writing keeps me out of trouble.”
As for what Loring wants his readers to get from his collection, he simply states, “I want [my readers] to laugh. I want them to smile. I want them to think that [the time they spend reading my book] is time well spent.”