Friday, October 1, 2010

Don't Fear the Weirdness

My wife and I bought a book that we both wanted to read. She started it first, which was okay with me, because I was in the middle of another book. As it turns out, I finished mine before she finished the new one. She had been held up by everyday stuff, so it was slow-going for her. She suggested I just start reading the book, too -- she wouldn't be getting back into it for a while.

I couldn't do it.

Yes, I realize this is weird, but I have never been accused of fearing weirdness. Why don't I feel right about reading a book someone else is in the middle of? 

I mean, it is not like eating with someone else's spoon. But it feels that way, a little. (By the way, I have no problem eating off of my wife's spoon. I hope this doesn't spawn an international gag reflex. Then again, perhaps this could become the Internet's version of "the wave".)

I think it may be a manifestation of greed, really. If we rent a cozy little house in Provence for a week, I don't want to share it with another family -- it's our house for the week. Maybe it is the same with the book: I want it to be my intellectual, material and emotional property, alone. For some reason it is okay to share the thing by talking about it afterward -- no problem. But I don't want someone else's filthy little brain-fingers paddling through the book's ideas while I am. (For the record, if my wife had brain-fingers, I am sure they would be clean and sparkly. I'm talking about everyone else. But not you. Just those other people. Keep your brain-fingers clean, I say. But I digress . . .) I want the ideas in the book to be mine alone for a few weeks.

Now, you could argue that there are other people reading the same book at the same time across the planet, but this is different. I'm not talking about multiple copies of the book. I'm talking about that particular book. The tactile object, in and of itself, has meaning to me. See, I have never been a cut-to-the-chase type. Nothing I ever do is about simply doing it. Books are an experience for me, not just a way to gather knowledge or to be entertained. Somehow, they represent more than just a vehicle for ideas -- they're like my tree-fort; my refuge; my Shangri la, if you will (even if you won't). I'm cool with occupying it before and after other people, but I don't want pass them in the hall on my way to the shower.

WHADDYOU THINK: What weird, yet explainable, hang-ups do you have or have you seen?


  1. I can definitely understand that. While you're reading a book, it needs to be where you want it at all times. And I guess I'll be the one to say it...

    Anything that sometimes accompanies you to the toilet is for personal use only.

    You wanted weird...

    I have a strange compulsion to try to make rhythmic patterns out of random sounds. I hate running, not because straining yourself sucks (it definitely does suck), but because I get short of breath trying to breathe to a rhythm. True story.

    ...I'm doing it now.