Cameron Tuttle,
The Bad Girl's Guide to the Open Road
(Chronicle, 1999)

The Bad Girl's Guide to the Open Road is a little pink book with a great big attitude. If you're a girl with a 9-to-5 that keeps you in enough stress to make heart attacks a reality, a girl in a relationship with some guy who thinks dirty laundry is a badge of courage for you, or a girl just struggling to break free from the routine -- this is the book for you.

Cameron Tuttle, the book's author, has a scathingly funny bad girl side that has taken her on the road more than a few times. She shares this wisdom with the more reserved among us, in a format that's easy to follow, hilarious to read and actually kind of useful. Chapters include "Are You My Motor," a guide to the major parts of an automobile engine so that you know what's wrong when it breaks in the middle of Arkansas, "Finding Your Badness," which helps those of us with Good Girl Issues to embrace our inner Road Warrior, and "Clean is a State of Mind," about how to find a shower when you've got no money for a hotel room (not including sleeping with a stranger to gain access to his shower).

Aside from the chapters themselves, the sidebars are great. Tuttle gives us a basic road trip survival kit, and scatters uses for the seemingly strange inclusions throughout to the book. Nerf footballs can be used as exercise equipment. Condoms as balloon animals to make extra money so you don't have to call Western Union -- again. Pantyliners can be post-its, ponytail holders, or tape to hold together a broken muffler. Anything goes for a Sister Road Warrior, out to worship Mother Road.

Across the bottoms of the pages are little hints that designate when, in fact, a "normal" girl should hit the road and become Bad. When you realize you have the same haircut you had in fourth grade, it's time to hit the road. It's time to hit the road when you think a date is just something with a pit. Hit the road when you go to the bathroom five times a day just to avoid working. According to Tuttle, there's nothing that isn't solvable by loading up the car, getting big hair, and heading off down the highway to let your inner bad girl out to play.

The best part, I believe, is the scattering of random lingo -- vocabulary words for the Girls on the Go. Set aside and used in context, these terms will find their way into your everyday life, though nobody but other Bad Girls will understand them. For example: A Brad Pitt Stop is an emergency pit stop to oogle a piece of sweet meat (her term for a nice-looking guy). Doing the Dog is an exhilarating activity -- sticking your head out the window at high speed, much like a German shepherd. Rearview Mirror Perspective is a mood-altering shift in perception when you realize that all the problems in your life are smaller than they appear.

Also included as a bonus: A "Road Sister" bumper sticker to announce your presence as one of the legion of the bad, a guide to small festivals and attractions all over the U.S. that make perfect destinations (for those that have to have one), and bits of wisdom on everything from "14 Ways to Open a Beer Bottle With Your Car" to a test-yourself quiz called "Are You A Road Sister," to lists like "9 Non-Gun Weapons You Already Own" and "8 Tried-And-True Ways To Get Out of a Speeding Ticket."

This book is fantastic for any woman with an inner bad girl struggling to break free and hit the road. Tuttle will pump that bad girl up, get her psyched and before you know it, you'll have a rented '57 Chevy on Route 66 looking for some kind of taboo voodoo with your road sisters. Nothing like the feeling of wind in your hair, the car purring under your seat, and nowhere to be.

[ by Elizabeth Badurina ]

Buy The Bad Girl's Guide to the Open Road from