I wonder about this lately as pickup attempts at the library continue.
And is this a thing now? Men trolling the library for dates?
It cracks me up when they don’t even try to pose with an actual book or lurk outside on the benches.
Much as I think it’s a turn on to see an appealing man at the library, a true bookworm will always have a better shot because I am still that girl who stands outside the library waiting for it to open. To fetch a book I ordered that didn’t make Kindle. To pluck through staff picks for ideas. To shop the makeshift lobby bookstore.
It feels like home.
So, why would my heart skip a beat over a non-reader when I don’t even get the concept?
More than I want to be asked if I live around here or if I’m single, I perk up at “What’s the last thing you read?” and “What’s your favorite book?”
Books are gateways.
Books are vacations.
Books are possibilities.
Books connect us.
It is almost orgasmic to read the same book at the same time with a man. Sort of like taking a trip together, it creates an anchor of shared memories and opportunities to bond over subject matter or start talking about compelling fictional characters like they are real people.
TV is not the same. I miss the words and the chance to use my imagination to augment what the author has created.
Neither is social media. In fact, if I discover someone has a cable and a Twitter account, but not a library card, a little WTF thought-bubble probably pops up over my head.
This is loaded with judgment, but I sometimes wonder what is inside the heads of non-readers. Often, I am inhaling two books in tandem. One fiction, one not. Through all of these mini-adventures of exploring the world of ideas and information, books have filled in a lot of blanks for me. About religion, history, culture, travel, science, human nature.
They taught me about sex too. When I broached the subject of the birds and bees with my mom as a preteen, hoping she’d tell me something juicer than my health teacher, she dismissively said, “Sex is for men.” So I went to the library and did “research” for about a month, draping cutesy book covers over the books and then further camouflaging my curiosity by parking in the sci-fi section where I was a known squatter.
This is also how I discovered I preferred a certain type of man: Smart/sexy or cool/nerd. Naturally, my first teen crush was on an assistant librarian. His skin was the color of honey. His body muscled and sculpted under fitted Star Trek tees. He had a black belt, a motorcycle and a girlfriend who favored Chrissy Tiegen, and he was always reading something. So was she. I was jealous, although I am sure neither of them knew I was alive.
With such a deep book bias, I have mostly avoided non-reading men. I didn’t even know there was such a thing until, Pre-Kindle, a guy invited me over for dinner and the absence of a bookshelf caught me completely by surprise. You would have thought I’d been propelled into outer space the way I kept panning around the room, trying to ground myself with that familiar sight and smell of dog-eared books. I still think if you want to get to know someone faster, skip the medicine cabinet and check the bookshelf to see where their mind as been.
He was nice, good-looking and funny, but without books in the background, I was disoriented and dizzy with thoughts I couldn’t process. What did he do with his time? Wasn’t he curious about the world? Was there a learning disability in play? Could he self-entertain? (i.e., what would he do while I was reading?)
With a bit of side-eye, I lobbed questions, questions, questions at him like an anthropologist studying a new species. He had to kiss me to shut me up, but my mind kept coming back to it—WHERE ARE YOUR BOOKS—and although it wasn’t the reason we broke up, it didn’t help.
He does Twitter now, a friend told me not long ago.
I just don’t trust that. Twitter is fun sometimes in a drive-by sort of way. But one book can take you on a whole adventure. Twitter only takes you around the corner.
The last library pickup guy was very cute and full of compliments. Except, again, he was in the lobby, not the library. Checking email, I think. He engaged me, and we had a few minutes of polite chit-chat before he asked for my number. My eyes unconsciously slid to the books-for-sale cart as I shook my head. He persisted until I followed up firmly with “No. I’m just going to save us some time, be honest and tell you I only date bookworms. I need that common ground.”
He gave me an incredulous look, but didn’t try to defend himself. And then he huffed off. Huffed.
The only up-side I can see of a being involved with a non-reading man is that as a storyteller, I don’t have to worry about backlash and whining if I use our doings as material BECAUSE HE’S NEVER GOING TO READ IT.