A Written Post About Absolutely Nothing But Losely Related to Reading.

Part One: Into the Subway.

Yesterday, while riding the L Train a very nice older woman stopped me from reading Into the Wild and asked me if that was the book about the people who traveled to Alaska and died.

Well, this does take place in Alaska but it’s the story about one boy who traveled into Alaska and was found dead a few months later.

Oh. That’s not the one. Does he have a son?

The writer? I’m not sure. The boy? Nope.

One of my biggest annoyances is when people assume that their listener doesn’t know something. (Incidentally, I just erased an entire paragraph explaining why and what I do instead. I then realized I was doing exactly what I said I couldn’t stand.) This time, however, I was pretty sure she was confusing two of Krakauer’s books: Into the Wild and Into Thin Air. It’s an easy mistake to make. And so I assumed.

I think you might be talking about Into Thin Air, which is about a group of people who attempt to travel and record a climb to the top of Mount Everest.

No. This is about a climb that takes place in Alaska and a bunch of people die and one of them has a little boy who he calls.

I knew what the truth was but I was done trying to convince this woman. Especially considering she was really sweet and I didn’t want to send rough waves through a crowded subway car.

I’m reading the Kite Runner. It’s amazing. You learn things on every page. I love to read. Don’t you just love to read? I get swept up into the pages of a good book. I love to read. You should pick up this book at the library when you’re done.

Have you ever made something up for no reason whatsoever? I do that sometimes. I wouldn’t go as far as to tag them as lies since, well, a lie seems like something that could potentially hurt someone. The things I blurt out couldn’t possibly hurt anyone at all and I usually only do this with strangers. But sometimes they are entirely untrue. I’ll say them and then I’ll think, “What the hell, Michele? That’s not true? Where did that come from? Who are you?” That’s about to happen in my story.

The library? You know, I work right next to the library. (true) As a matter of fact, I can see it from my window (true) but I never go. I should. (also true) Usually, I’ll just steal books from my husband when he’s finished. (untrue)

I can’t say I have ever stolen a book from Toby Joe. Not once. After I said it, I stopped paying as much attention to the sweet woman on the train and began to analyze myself instead. Why did you say that, Michele? Did you say it because you want to steal Toby’s books once he’s finished reading them? Most of them are political or tech related. You’re more of a culturally non-fiction junkie, or a realist fiction kind of gal. You’re someone who likes a book about loneliness, heartache, love, or hermaphrodites. You don’t make a habit out of stealing tech books from Toby. Did you say this because you wanted everyone on the crowded train to know you were married to a man who also reads books? Was this your excuse behind not visiting your local library? Did you unconsciously want the woman to know you’re married and are no longer available? Why do you care so much about the fact that you made up the fact that you steal books from your husband once he’s finished reading them? Had my lie been true, I guess it would kinda of hurt Toby Joe. No one likes to have things stolen. I concluded that it was a good thing I was actually lying.

At this point, the woman was reading out loud to me. She read a sentence. I don’t remember it word for word but it went something like this:

And, just like that, something can take place during one minute of one day and change your life forever.

Isn’t that wonderful?

It was a little wonderful. It was obvious, but it was a little wonderful. But I concluded that this sentence was surrounded by a bunch of other sentences that lived on the pages of The Kite Runner and that the sentence she just read to me touched her based on what came before it. A foundation, I was not made privy to.

It’s wonderful alright. (slightly untrue) I should pick up that book. (true) I almost did on Sunday. (true) But I got this one instead. (true) I think I’ll hit the library today. (untrue)

I love to read. Yes, you should. Maybe you’ll get this exact book. Maybe you’ll take out this one. It’s very good.

Maybe, if I get that exact book, I can say I started stealing books from you instead of my husband.

What the hell was that?

Well, enjoy your reading. Enjoy your book.

You too. And enjoy your day.

I started reading again. My eyes moved along the words as if on rails. Asleep at the wheel, it took two whole page turns for me to realize that while I was going through the motions, I wasn’t actually reading anything at all.

Part Two: Into the Gym.

Last night, I hopped off the exercise bike at the gym. My heart was pounding. Frank Black was screaming at me from my headphones. He was talking about my ego. A woman wearing a NYSC employee sweatshirt tapped me on the shoulder. I jumped. It occurred to me that I was standing in the middle of the FAST TRACK! isle. I had forgotten where I was all of a sudden. I stopped Mr. Black, mid-scream.

Are you looking for a treadmill? There’s one on the other side.

Me? Oh. No. I just rode the bike. (true) Kind of you, though. (a little too kind, so untrue)

Did I look like I needed to run?

What are you reading?

She bent her head sideways to see my book cover. Her hair brushed over the cover like a fly-swatting horse’s tail.

Into the Wild. (true) It’s good. (true) I’m going to go lift weights. (untrue)

Truthfully, I was annoyed that she was talking to me. I like to be alone while at the gym. It’s hard enough to go every day as it is; being approached by overly helpful strangers is frustrating. I understood that her intentions were driven by kindness, but I didn’t want to chat.

What do your tattoos mean?

Oh great.

They’re stars. (true) This one is a ghost. (true, but vague) I have to go meet my husband. (untrue)

Let me know if you need any help.

Did I look like I needed help? My cheeks were blood red. I looked boiled. I wish I were more like Lance Armstrong. I want a resting heart rate of 30. I want to be fit and trim. I want to envy myself. My birthday is in 11 days. I want to look 5 years younger. I guess I could have used some help.

But I’m pretty sure she couldn’t have helped me with any of that.

I finished my book while riding the subway home.

Part Three: Into the Subway.

Today, on the L Train a woman sat there reading. Her book has had its jacket removed. I had a hard time eavesdropping on its cover. But she had just turned the page, introducing a new chapter.

Restarting Your Mental Computer.

I sat there reading the NYT and tried to figure out exactly what this book might be about. I said it again in my head. I said it over and over again.

Restarting Your Mental Computer.

Computer Your Mental Restarting.

Mental Restarting Your Computer.

Your Restarting Mental Computer.

As my eyes traveled along the words making up a story about how the Supreme Court rejected the U.S. bid to block assisted suicide, I tried desperately to figure out what other chapters surrounded that particular chapter and why she was trying to restart her mental computer. And what the hell is that book about anyway?

Court, 6-3 Says Attorney General Restarted Was Wrong in His Oregon Mental Computer Case.

13 Comments

  1. I think she wanted to know what your tattoo’s mean to you and was failing at an attempt to get to know you better – perhaps she thinks your hot and wants you. Like we all do. :)

    Reply

  2. riiiiiiight.

    If that were indeed true and I had given her the usual answer to when people ask about the stars on my arm, well, by God then cue up the porno music because we’d have had some girl on girl action going on.

    That answer: The pink one represents my love for woman, the blue, for boys.

    But we all know she was just trying to get my ass into shape.

    Reply

  3. To further today’s theme about nothing: One time, Toby Joe was at the local market and a woman with frizzy hair was working the counter. How do I put this? Well, she was really fugly. Anyway, she was hitting on the guy who was in front of Toby asking him about the movies he rented and whether she could come home with him to watch them. He was all, “They’re those kind of movies. So, no.”

    And she was all, “OH MY GOD. I LOVE PORNO MOVIES!” (Ladies, not the way to pick up the guy of your dreams.)

    This guy wanted to get away from her SO BAD he said, “No, they’re porno GAY movies.”

    To which she began belting over and over again, “I LOVE PORNO GAY! I LOVE PORNO GAY!”

    This has become a regular retort in our household.

    So, from now on when strangers start talking to me I’m going to scream “I LOVE PORNO GAY! I LOVE PORNO GAY!”

    Reply

  4. i love this and the heart rate one too. you and i are on similar paths, cardiologically speaking. try bikram yoga. talk about being boiled. but its worth it.
    in class i sometimes wonder what your commentary on the whole thing would be.
    thats it. i think of you in yoga. oh dear.

    Reply

  5. I have a story about Bikram yoga. It includes a lot of sweat, my beat ass, my bare face cheek, and a foreign pubic hair.

    Reply

  6. You lied to that lady about stealing books from me because you secretly wish I would end my self-imposed hiatus from fiction.

    I’ll be heading to the bookstore some time this week, and perhaps I’ll pick up some books you’ll wanna steal…

    Reply

  7. YAY! BOOKS I CAN STEAL!

    But will that mean you might become dumber especially in reference to programming? Because, really, I like that you build me things like this site.

    Reply

  8. oh please send it to me.
    i already have the bare cheek and pube part down pat.
    i think every participant should be waxed.

    Reply

  9. Pat down that bare cheek and pube. Pat it, sweetheart.

    Well, it’s pretty simple. Bikram yoga used to kick my ass into next week and back. I loved it AFTER each class but during the class, it’s kind of like working out in hell. It’s workout purgatory.

    Right after finishing the dreadful standing section of the class, we moved to the floor. I was freaking exhausted. We were on our stomachs at the time and I was sticking to everything. We were doing some seriously painful leg exercises and would rest between poses. I remember really looking forward to the time where you could rest your head on your cheek for a second or two. Well, on this particular day, I lifted my head and there was a massive pubic hair stuck to my cheek. What bothered me, later was that it didn’t bother me then. I plucked the foreign pube from my face and merely placed it back onto the CARPET below.

    I know it wasn’t mine. But that’s all I’ll say about that as to why.

    I never went back to that class which was in SoHo. I did, however, go back to a Bikram class while living in DC.

    I agree about the waxing. Holy crap, yes. Either that, or they should lightly blow torch everyone upon entering.

    Reply

  10. Is Bikram yoga also maybe called power yoga? If so, I’ve done that. 95 degrees and those balance poses killed me. I’m dying to go back and do it again, it’s been a long while.

    Never ran into a pubic hair though. shiver

    Reply

  11. Imagine running into a pubic hair. Sort of like hitting a deer or a speed bump. “Oh dear, Chuck! I think I just ran into a pubic hair!”

    maddie, I’m not sure. But it sounds painful enough to be the same.

    Reply

  12. shrink wrapped
    thats how i feel when im finished.
    but im kind of addicted.
    anyway all the pubes up here are WASPY and blonde.oh and their sweat smells like roses too.

    Reply

  13. when strangers start talking to me I’m going to scream “I LOVE PORNO GAY! I LOVE PORNO GAY!”

    Funny!! that’ll keep ‘em away.

    Reply

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