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'Paddle Your Own Canoe': Funnyman Nick Offerman tells his story

"Parks and Recreation" star Nick Offerman reveals his secrets to living deliciously in "Paddle Your Own Canoe." Here's an excerpt.



I am a jackass living in America and living surprisingly well. Let’s make that our jumping-off point. I come by it honest. I am your average meat, potatoes, and corn–fed human male, with a propensity for smart-assery, who has managed to make a rewarding vocation out of, essentially, making funny faces and falling down. I have also exhibited some tool skills and an inclination for eating delicious meatstuffs, and have then been somehow rewarded quite over-handsomely for these tendencies. I grew up literally in the middle of a cornfield in the village of Minooka, Illinois, where I spent a lot of time learning to use intoxicants, chasing girls, screwing around in the woods (mostly without the girls), and serving under Father Tony (unmolested) at our local Catholic church, St. Mary’s. I learned the word nonconformist in fourth grade and immediately announced that I would grow up to become one.

I have a hell of a great family in Illinois, and now some more in Oklahoma via my wife, Megan. I have spent the vast majority of my adult life working as an actor and also, to a lesser extent, as a woodworker. I’m going to run on at some length about the excellent people whom I have called friends, and some others whom I have had the privilege of calling teacher, and, while those parts are all well and good, there will also be some dirty parts, and I believe cunnilingus gets at least two mentions (favorable). On top of all that, and woven all throughout it, I’ll describe my wife, who is just a goddamn blessing to me in a great many ways, enriching my life to such an extent that I can go nowhere anymore without passersby muttering, “There goes that lucky bastard.” I can only make a dimple and solemnly nod in agreement.

Combined with each story comes a delicious principle—advice about living life that I hope you’ll find useful. Of course, my fundamentals may not work for everyone. A beautiful aspect of the human race is our endless variety. Like maple leaves and snowflakes, there are no two of us alike. Therefore, while my tactics involving the cultivation of lush facial hair and the consumption of pork products, as well as those derived from beef, may not be exactly the steps of the path you might tread on your way to “delicious living,” perhaps my techniques will at least inspire you to forge your own discipline, providing you with the necessary skills to blaze your own trail.

Basically, this book boils down to: how an average human dips__t like myself, relying solely on warped individuality and a little elbow grease, can actually rise from a simple life of relative poverty to one of prosperity, measured in American dollars and Italian band saws, sure, but more importantly, laughter, wood shavings, and kisses. The key lies in finding the delicious flavorings in one’s life, no matter how fancy your blue jeans may or may not be. The notions herein are meant to inform, inspire, and engender mirth. Enjoy, please, and thank-you.

From the book PADDLE YOUR OWN CANOE by Nick Offerman. Copyright © 2013 by Nick Offerman. Reprinted by arrangement with Dutton. All rights reserved.