Saturday, May 20, 2006

I'm only here for a muffler

To the old guy in the Midas shop: What is it about me holding a book and reading says "Please tell me about your life"? Wow, your wife once locked your front door and had to have someone take it off the hinges to get back inside? That is un-fucking-believable. I can't wait to tell my friends that story. I'll be the hit of every party I go to with that little narrative gem.

So, let me point something out. If someone is in a waiting room (no matter where it is) and they have their nose in a book, it means they don't want to talk. The only acceptable interruption is to ask what they are reading and what they think of it. Beyond that I don'’t care.

Alright, I'm being a little harsh. I guess it would be acceptable to say one thing to see if someone is interested in conversing, but if the reaction is just a simple "ayuh" and then going back to reading - that'’s not an invitation.

No, I don"’t think Bush is a great president. As a matter of fact I'm one of those idiots who think he should be kicked out of office.

No, "those people" in New Orleans didn'’t get what they deserved. And yes, they should rebuild the city.

No, I don't think illegal immigrants are the real problem. Sending troops and building a huge wall seems a little too East Berlin for my taste.

And no, I did not think the war is worth it.

Let's recap:

Book = no talk
Bush = bad
You = idiot


Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

The only way they get actual words out of me is if they ask what I'm reading. Then I say, "A Book." That usually kills any possible conversation.

If I'm in a really good mood, though, I'll hold it up for a few seconds so they can read the cover.

If they keep trying to talk to me, I only answer in grunts.

"Good book?"


"What's it about?"


I'm reading a book, man, not sitting here hoping someone will come along and ask me for an off-the-cuff book review. Besides, anyone rude enough to interrupt a person who is obviously reading doesn't appreciate books enough for me to want to talk to them.

My favorite waiting room people are the ones who look at you like you're a freak when you whip out a book. They can't imagine why anyone would rather read than stare at the little TV bolted to the wall. After all, remember what the locals said about the Unabomber: "He always had a book with him."

JD Rhoades said...

The late great Bill Hicks used to do a great bit about being in a Waffle House late night, after a show, reading a book and chilling out after the performance. The waitress comes up and asks" "Whatcha readin fer?"


HICKS (TO AUDIENCE): Not,mind you, 'whatcha readin?' but 'whatcha readin...for?'
(TALKING TO IMAGINARY WAITRESS): Well, gee, I don't know, I never really thought about why...maybe so I don't end up working as a fucking waffle waitress, I guess."

I live in a small town in the South, where this sort of thing is pretty much the rule. Since it is a small town, I try to make as few enemies as possible, so I try to be philosophical about it...sometimes I pick up a story, a phrase, or a particular bit of conversational rhythm I can use later.

Sandra Ruttan said...

You want hell, try reading while you're on a train in Europe.

Or driving with my husband.

Or even just being in bed and having Kevin decide to grace me with his presence. He doesn't care if I'm reading. He's decided to talk to me now.

But here's a little trick you might try - headphones. You don't have to have anything on, but when people think you're listening to something and reading, they usually leave you alone.

Either that, or just dress in leather and chains, shave your head and get a gnarly tattoo. It could work.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...


I did shave my head once, but it didn't help me intimidate anyone. I looked like Charlie Brown.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Charlie Brown! LOL! Guess that explains whey everyone is always picking on you.

A. J. Luxton said...

I totally agree with you. "What are you reading?" is perfectly acceptable, for three reasons:

-I like to share my favorite authors.

-It is a social signifier that the person is not a drooling idiot, unlike most of humanity: they recognize what a book looks like, and display interest in it.

-Once in a blue moon, I actually wind up in a good conversation with someone, like if they've read the book, something else by the author! This is pretty rare, but it's worth the momentary interruption.