Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Confessions of a Reader

Filed under: The Confessional — Laura Moncur @ 6:57 am

People who don’t know me want to talk to me. I was sitting alone in a fast food restaurant and I could see him out of the corner of my eye. He was waiting in line to order his healthy sandwich with less than six grams of fat. He wasn’t staring at the menu. He wasn’t staring at the rack of potato crisps and fat-filled snacks. He wasn’t staring at the dim-witted lady behind the counter who made my sandwich so efficiently that I was grateful for those rare people like her. He was staring at me.

If an idiot were to tell you the same story every day for a year, you would end by believing it. Horace Mann (1796 – 1859)

I have been spending my lunch hours reading “The Summing Up” by Somerset Maugham. I had already enjoyed my Seafood and Crab sandwich (not under six grams of fat, mind you) and was having trouble reading because the guy in line was staring at me. I casually took a sip from my straw and looked him straight in the eyes. I was trying to tell him, “Leave me alone. I don’t know who you are, and I don’t really care what you have to tell me.” That’s not how I usually handle things, but I was an unescorted and married female. I’m not supposed to talk to strangers. My glare didn’t matter, though, because it didn’t work. He was so excited to talk to me.

“Have you read ?The Razor’s Edge’?” I shook my head and replied, “No. I think ‘Of Human Bondage’ is his best. ‘The Moon and Sixpence’ is good too, but it’s heartbreaking.” I’ll give him an essay question answer. That should make him leave me alone. No such luck. “Yeah, but that’s the best kind of story to read when you want to cry.” Wow, this guy wants to talk. “Well, I run a quotations website, so I’m reading for quotations. It’s a different kind of reading. This guy is great for quotations.” The dim-witted counter lady finally got his attention and he reluctantly turned around and ordered his sandwich after mumbling something positive. I sighed with relief.

If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people. Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941)

After he left, I congratulated myself for turning on the school-marm attitude and scaring him off. After writing this, however, I regret it. I asked for advice. I wrote my weblog and asked the universe if I should dare to read another book. When the potential for an answer came, I scared it away. I should have said, “No, what is it about?” Instead of fearing him because he was a man and probably a pervert, I should have asked him my question, “I find his work disturbing. Should I dare read another book? Is it worth it?” Now, I’ll never know. He was so aching to talk about that book to someone that he was willing to talk to a stranger. I guess now I have to read it. I owe it to the stranger because I judged him unfairly.


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