Wednesday, May 12, 2004

the ourobouros scooter club

At the risk of creating a weird little feedback loop, I'm linking back to a post of 3Jake's where she links to my post linking to hers about people and television... but this is not a self-aggrandizing move. Self-indulgent, maybe. But mostly I'm doing it because she talks about Clifford Stohl, and weird guys walking pugs, and mentions books, and being disappointed when other people haven't read the ones she wants to talk about.

Does anyone else, upon entering someone else's home for the first time, make a beeline for the bookshelf? I've always done it, and I'm not entirely sure why. But I really noticed it last week when I went to a friend's housewarming. Everyone was thoroughly margarita-soaked by the time I got there, the host (who I hadn't seen in probably seventeen years) was doing tequila shots straight from the bottle, and the vibe was most definitely not about reading. But there I was, scanning the travel guides and the language texts and the fiction and the books on linguistics, trying to figure out who my friend has become.

It's not the most sociable habit. People were trying to talk to me, and there I was with my back to the tequila, the devastation that had once been taco makings, the plate of soft crumbly brownies, squinting in the half light at Experiment's books.

I always get excited when there's a match; when they have something I do. As if that means we think or feel the same things. As if it means we will effortlessly become friends, if we aren't already. And I find a house without books a huge warning sign. Which isn't fair to the residents--they might be lovely people--but then, I've rarely had that much to talk to bookless people about.

It can mislead you, of course. Slice had plenty of books, and no attention span. I got sucked in by what he owned, not realizing that he'd read barely any of it. Whereas when I first visited Gingko's parents' home in rural Vermont, I became convinced I had to marry him, because his parents had shelves and shelves of books on every wall in every room. Seriously. They had more books in their bathroom than some branch libraries have in the whole building. Which didn't really mean that Gingko and I were meant for each other, of course, but I was so intoxicated by the smell of paper I couldn't think clearly. And then of course there's LabRat, who I dated for a full year although he had very few books; I had no reason to believe, from his shelves, that we would have anything to share for so long.

I suppose what I am looking for is confirmation that other people value reading as much as I do. I always feel a little funny when someone says, so what do you do for fun? and I say, read. I recognize that (especially on a date, especially on a first date) the question is actually what do you like doing that we could do together?, and that answering that my first passion is an essentially solitary pursuit is not the, ah, most thrilling response. Unless the asker is someone like AX, of course,who had to describe his library to me via e-mail before I would go out with him, or Snufkina, who is as fixated on the Moomintroll books as I am.

Oh, and Jake? I had to read Troilus and Cressida; then I saw it performed. Which was better than reading it, but still a nasty slog. Thankfully the Pandarus was a good actor, and the Patroclus suitably sweet and tender. Which leads, inevitably, to my frustration with the concept of a heterosexual Achilles in the upcoming Troy. But I'm saving that rant until I've seen the film itself.