Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is no gouda

Life has suddenly taken a rather dramatic turn (for the good, fret not), which means things will be slightly frenetic for a while. I'm kind of having to maintain a fa├žade of calm while inwardly jumping up and down like a demented rabbit, squealing huzzah and pumping the air with my fist, and this is also cramping my style. As a consequence I won't have much patience for blogger-battling over the next few days, particularly on the photo front.

However, just to throw something out there, a while back (too lazy to link) there was a post in the Guardian blog about chatting up people reading books on public transport. At the time, I thought, "Interesting idea, but has ramifications." Then took a look at what I was reading (Christopher Moore's Blood-Sucking Fiends) and thought, "Perhaps not the best totty-luring material." At which point I got distracted by medieval justice and that was the end of that.

But a few days ago I sat next to an elderly man on the metro reading Le Petit Nicolas and smiling in appreciation at certain passages. And so the discussion popped up in my head again. For one thing, it seemed a bit of an unusual reading choice and for another, when I know someone has enjoyed a book I've liked, I feel like there's a potential for some kind of connection.

Of course, having been on the other side of the booker/bookee experience, and being possessed of a fairly healthy dose of reserve (I'd give it a nationality, but apparently I've always been like this) I also know that down that path lies the fear of stalkerdom and all kinds of assorted creepiness. And so the elderly man was safe from my attentions while I began to wonder about how the choice of reading material seems to say so much about a person. But that's a blog for another day.

4 comments:

Candy said...

I have a pretty funny Le Petit Nicolas story, involving a conversation a very, very drunk man struck up with me on the bus about eight years ago.

I had discovered Le Petit Nicolas in French class the year before. Having fallen in love, I promptly bought all the books in the series and started working through them, my trusted Mini Hachette at my side, and for several weeks, I had nothing but Le Petit Nicolas books with me on the bus ride to the University.

One day, I noticed that the man sitting in front of me kept turning around and staring at my book. He kept squinting and squinting, as if he was trying to read the title but was having a difficult time. He was middle-aged, with greasy light brown hair and a face full of scruff, and he stank of sour sweat and cheap malt liquor. He weaved as he sat. If he wasn't three sheets to the wind, I'd say at least two were and the third was quivering and ready to fly any second.

Finally, he couldn't stand it any longer. He didn't quite ask me the question I was expecting, though--not directly, anyway. "Hey, where you from?" he asked.

"I'm Chinese Malaysian," I said, setting the book aside. He looked confused, like most people do when I give that answer, so I explained how I was Chinese by ethnicity and Malaysian by nationality.

He took a moment to digest this information. Then he pointed at my book, and said "Is that in Chinese?"

"No, that's French," I said.

The poor man looked like his head was going to explode. Seriously. You could've hidden whole regiments in the furrows of his brow. After a few more moments, he looked at me and asked, somewhat pitifully, "Why are you reading a French book?"

The devil in me said, "Because I like it," without providing any further explanation.

He opened his mouth, like he wanted to say something more, but then he shook his head and turned around.

Apparently, this is how you confuse a drunk: Present him with a Chinese Malaysian girl living in America reading a French book.

Candy said...

Good grief, write one long-winded comment, kill the entire blog. I didn't know my verbosity was so toxic.

*sulks*

azteclady said...

*waiting patiently for EAP to come back*

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Hi Candy & azteclady.

Nope. Still here... er... there.

Candy - d'you reckon that the old man on the bus was so inspired by you that he cleaned up, moved to Prague and now travels around on the yellow line, reading LPN?

Right. Ten minutes to do a v. quick update.