I was out with some co-workers the other night and it was a little depressing. One of them had heard that I am “a big reader”, so he was chatting me up about his favorites.
Had I read Gibbon? No.
Voltaire? No. *
Euclid? No. **
I was feeling pretty uneducated. Oh-so-ignorant. An imposter. Unwashed, too, but that was probably more of a pyschological thing.
Reader Guy smiled. “I guess you’re more of a literature lady.”
“I guess so.”
“Have you read George Eliot?”
“George Eliot’s wonderful!” My mouth was watering to discuss Middlemarch.
“I read The Mill on the Floss.” Reader Guy told me. He must have assumed I’d read it because he told me the ending. “It was so disappointing to read that long book and [spoiler] at the end.”
Just before we all left the bar, Reader Guy told me that when he’s home in Canada in the summer, he’ll go out and live in the forest and come to town once a week to shower at the gym, get groceries and visit the library. Kind of like Thoreau, I wanted to say, but knowing about Thoreau and Walden seemed so weak and lit-wimpy compared to actually having read Euclid, Virgil and Spinoza.
Since that night, I’ve been walking around muttering to myself: “I haven’t read anything. I’ve never read anything.”
Funny how things happen just like that. In an instant, my entire literary life fell into the cracks on the floor of the bar and was mopped up along with the spilled, stale beer suds. My bookworm mojo’s gone.
*Actually, I did read Candide, but not for fun and pleasure as Reader Guy indicated that he had done. Points off for me because I only read it because it was a World Literature II assignment when I was in college.
** Hell, no! Isn’t Euclid a math guy or something? Shudder.