Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Nonreading Boyfriend, 1977.

When I was 15, I had a boyfriend. That was the main thing back then, to have a boyfriend that you could drop into conversations like so much disposable currency. Since I was rather new at this sort of thing, I didn't really do research before signing up to "go steady" with him. We'd been going out for a few days when I found out that he didn't like to read. In fact, he hated reading!

Not only did this guy hate reading, he hated to see anyone reading. On several occasions, when he saw me reading, he'd come up and knock the book out of my hands and across the room! The first time he did this, I was so deep into the novel (INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE) that he scared the crap out of me and I screamed. For some stupid reason, I recovered when I saw that it was dear darling Boyfriend and quickly decided that he was so happy to see me that he couldn't control his exhuberance, which of course was charming and flattering.

After a few more books went sailing across the room, I became less enchanted with his unique way of saying hello. The final straw came when I was reading an older paperback novel (CATCHER IN THE RYE) and the glue on the spine was old and crumbly. As the book flew across the room, it fell apart and loose pages fluttered down.

I forgot about my secret vow to always be The Nicest, Sweetest Girlfriend In The Whole Wide World.

"Fucking asshole!" I sputtered, scrambling to gather the pages and shove them back in the book in the correct order.

"What's your problem?" Boyfriend was genuinely bewildered.

"Well, it's just that...." I paused and tried to remember exactly how last month's SEVENTEEN magazine had said to handle tense situations with tact and grace.

Ah, to hell with it.

"You broke my fucking book!" Broke. Too childish. Sounded like I was talking about a toy. Also, I had that broken-toy whine in my voice. I tried for some dignity. "You destroyed my book. Demolished it."

In another minute, Boyfriend was going to need to put his finger up his nose to keep his brain from rattling around like the last dried bean in a maraca. "What you tallkin like a dictionary for? You think you're so smart, sitting around with your goddamn books all the time, trying to act like you're hot shit!"

"I am not!" Really, I didn't think I was that smart. And I would have never in a million years thought of using books as a way to establish my hot-shitness to the world. Farrah hair? Yes. Knee-high lace-up boots? Yes. Books? No.

"You just can't do that to a book," I pointed out to Boyfriend (?), or tried to.

"Why?" Boyfriend (?) sneered. "Does the ittle book have feelings? Is it gonna cry?"

I personally thought that the book had feelings, but didn't say so aloud. In private though, I had already apologized to INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, A PROLOGUE TO LOVE and GO ASK ALICE for being assaulted. I apologized and made explanations. ("He doesn't like to read but it's because he hasn't found his perfect book yet. It's up to me to find it for him.")

"Reading's stupid," Boyfriend (?) announced. "And you're stupid for reading so much," he added. "That's why you got them glasses. If you quit reading, you wouldn't need to wear glasses, and you know what? You'd look a HELL of a lot better."

I finished gathering all the pages. "I have to go," I said, my voice wobbling.

I went into the bathroom to cry, to comfort my book, and to meditate on my revenge. I wondered if the American Library Association put out contracts on stupid fucking asshole bastard nonreaders! I imagined myself beating him up, then tying him to a chair, then gluing his eyes open and forcing him to read every minute of every day! That'd fix his stupid fucking ignorant nonreading ass! What would I make him read? I smiled through my tears, thinking of the many possibilities.

I wiped my runny eye makeup and blew my nose. "I still have you," I whispered to CATCHER IN THE RYE, hugging it tightly.

Damn, it was going to be such a drag, waiting around for another boyfriend! Oh well, maybe there was a likely candidate in the school library. If not, I could check out a book to cheer myself up.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I had the same problem with an ex from high school, and I promptly ditched him over a copy of Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination. And for some reason, I had the same problem later in my twenties. He'd take the book out of my hand, toss it across the room...and then it dawned on me that I was put solely on the earth to pay attention to him. He got himself ditched too, over a copy of a Stephen King paperback.

Some men never grow up. But there are always more books.

Brian Duke said...

Enjoyed your story. Well written.

One thing though, you kept refering to him as "boyfriend". Go ahead, use his real name. It's not like he'll ever read it... :)

kyknoord said...

Excellent story. Boyfriends are transient things, but a good book is forever.

kewpiedoll said...

people who don't like to read just can't...

Madley said...

Great post...I was 25 when I actually had a roommate who said he didn't like to read. I'd never met anyone like that EVER, and I was shocked.


But then I couldn't believe people didn't love steak either.

Great blog! :)

Anonymous said...

Just blog hoppin' and stopped here.
Had to read all the post. It was great.
Those nonreaders, I tell ya...

Anji said...

I went through the same thing. I'm sure if the house caught fire I'd rescue my books first. I'd never give them away or sell them.