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Thursday, May 5, 2011

What’s Wrong with Room-Temperature Gin?

Some people buy tools. Others buy shoes.

I buy books.

My sister is staring at the stacks of them on the floor of the living room.

“What?” I say.

She picks one up. “Are these your I’ve-read-these piles or your I’m-going-to-read-these piles?”

“Those are the unread.”

She shakes her head. “You’re never going to die, are you?”

“Don’t you read?”

She shakes her head again, chuckles. “Not like this.”

She puts the book down. “What are you reading now?”

“I just started White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov.”

“Gesundheit.”

“Thank you.”

“And what did you read before that?”

“Why do you ask?”

She shrugs and tilts her head to the left, a movement reminiscent of our mother. “You called that beggar outside the theater a schnorrer.”

I smile. “It was a collection of short stories by Sholom Aleichem. Fiddler on the Roof was based on his stories about Tevye the Milkman.”

“Really,” Karen deadpans.

“What?! The guy acted like he was entitled to my leftover malted milk balls! Why should I give him my malted milk balls?”

Karen stares at me.

“The word fit,” I say, emphatically. “And anyway, so what? I’m reading! What should I be reading if not the books I’m reading?”

“Is that accent you’ve just developed courtesy of the collection of Yiddish short stories, too?”

“Maybe,” I say, evasively.

There is a moment of silence.

“You do that, you know,” she says.

“Do what?”

“Remember when you read The Great Gatsby?”

I stare at her.

“Afterward, you wanted to go clamming or some dang thing! You wanted to lay around the house in period dresses and drink room-temperature gin!”

“I’m sensitive,” I say, perhaps a touch defensively.

“And what about when you read The Kitchen God’s Wife? Isn’t that the book that made you say “Ai-eeee” all the time?”

My eyes shift to the right, then to the left. “Maybe.”

She starts to laugh, and then we are both laughing. “You thought you were Chinese,” she says, wiping her eyes with her sleeve. “Oh, my God.”

“I said I’m sensitive, dammit!”

“Oh, yeah," she says. "Sensitive.”

“I am! Shaddap.”

A decision is abruptly made in Karen’s head, and she grabs her purse, roots around for her car keys. “Hmmm. I’m thinking lunch,” she says. “I’m thinking either deli or Chinese.”

“Ah-HA!” I say. “Now look who’s sensitive!”

She smiles. “Aw, shaddap.”

47 comments:

Yandie, Goddess of Pickles. said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, you have a gift for dialogue.

Nessa Roo said...

Nice! I'm first. I'm also a book hoarder. I have Not Yet Read, Read It You Can Borrow It, and Read It Over and Over Don't You Dare Touch It! And I, too, am "sensitive." Happy Reading!

R. Jacob said...

Ones first love should always be a good book, it will never let you down.

Jennifer said...

Pearl,
Next week would you consider a Tuesday playlist from your ipod? If next week is like this week, then once a week is not enough.

Thanks,
A Devoted Reader

Simply Suthern said...

Wish I had your thirst for reading. I've tried, I just can't do it.

vanilla said...

I am reading A Tale of Two Cities. I can't seem to find an end to my sentences in conversation.

ellen abbott said...

I thought it was The Kitchen God's Wife that had me say 'wah' all the time.

Bossy Betty said...

You tell her to leave you and your friends alone.

Susan in the Boonies said...

I snorted. Snorty, snort, snort.

I've been reading the most fascinating book on pig farming...have I mentioned it?

Drake Sigar said...

I enjoy applying obscure literary references to everyday occurrences and chuckling inwardly too, even if it does have the outward effect of making you look insane.

The Writer Currently Known as Rory said...

My sister is staring at the stacks of them on the floor of the living room.

“What?” I say.

She picks one up. “Are these your I’ve-read-these piles or your I’m-going-to-read-these piles?”

“Those are the unread.”

She shakes her head. “You’re never going to die, are you?”


Yep, I've got them, too, all around my room. Stacks next to my bed, leaning against my nightstand, stacks in front of my TV, stacks on shelves, and stacks on the other side of my bed. My only "read" pile is my collection, 40 books that I know for sure I'll always keep.

Pat said...

You two!

Daisy said...

You caught me! Three more books arrived this week. Presently I'm reading "Cosmic Pilgrim" by Margaret MacIntyre. Next in the new pile is "Quest for the Living God" by Elizabeth Johnson. And every once in a while I give in to the "Library addiction" and indulge in a good murder mystery!
Daisy's Barbara

Leslie said...

This is very funny. My husband picks up accents the way you pick up book personalities. It happens without his knowledge, which can be a little um, embarrassing...especially when it sounds like he's imitating (badly) the person he's speaking to...

Thanks for coming by my blog, and taking the time to leave your lovely comment :)

Leenie said...

Good reading makes great blog fodder.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello:
An absolutely engaging tale which confirms that we do all, in fact, identify with a a good book.

KaLynn ("MiMi") said...

I love being the fly on the wall during family conversations! I laughed so hard I fell off the wall!!

Cotonee said...

I just finished a book about a dwarf in WWII Germany. Now I want to call all little people "zwerg."

Sarah said...

"Sensitive"...that's what it's called! I had no idea. I just thought it was a "phase" or a too-active imagination.

Movies, books, TV shows, they can all make me want to be where they're at or be who they are.

Reading is a must like breathing or eating. How do people survive without a book in hand?!?

Cheeseboy said...

Your sister and I seem to share reading habits. In fact, she is probably even more well read than I. I am half Russian and I've never even heard of that guy you sneezed.

Eva Gallant said...

That was such a fun post. I love to read, too, but my taste is much less refined than yours. Now that I think about it, that may be why you are a much better writer than I!

GYPSYWOMAN said...

OMG!!! sounds WAY too much like my daughters with my piles of books!!! too funny, lady! great post - i always look forward to lightness and escapism over your way and i'm never let down!!! ;) thank you!

jenny_o said...

Funny! And so true about taking on accents and words according to what book was just read!

Caleb said...

Read the title, skipped reading the post, went straight to the comments:

Nothin'.





j/k! (about the not reading part)

laughingmom said...

I was going to ask how you acted after reading a cheap romance novel, but decided that you probably have never read one of those!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

When my pile of "to read" is gone, I believe it will be time to die.

hocam said...

I too am a book hoarder. There is not a free wall space that does not have book shelves on it. My husband keeps mentioning secondhand book shops but I suffer from selective deafness. I enjoyed your post. It was a pleasure to read.

The Writer Currently Known as Rory said...

When my pile of "to read" is gone, I believe it will be time to die.

Immortality, here we come!

lesinfin said...

This was great! And I'm sensitive too, Pearl! Nothing wrong with that :) xoxo

Happy Frog and I said...

I'm definitely using the 'I'm sensitive' line in future. I've settled for 'I'm special' in the past but this sounds better. Another great post as ever, I do love coming over here to visit :-)

Oilfield Trash said...

Pearl you have a great gift!!!

Gigi said...

It appears that I will NEVER die!! If my pile of "to reads" shrinks by even a quarter I'm off to replenish the stock. Stopping to get a new pair of shoes while I'm at it. What?!? Shoes. Books. There are worse vices. Don't judge me.

Karate Los Angeles said...

That sounds like a conversation I would have with my mother. I'm the same way, though, when I read! You know what my worse to admit was? How I acted after reading the Harry Potter series... Talk about an identity crisis.
Ava

Little Ms Blogger said...

Not only do I have stacks and stacks of books to read, I have HUNDREDS of cookbooks and am trying to justify their purchase by trying to cook one recipe from each book I've purchased.

lisleman said...

read well blog even better. What is it about Yiddish that is inherently funny? Get a bagel with your Chinese.

River said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one with this "sensitivity".

On My Soapbox said...

One of my favorite stores is "Half Price Books". I could go on a crazy buying spree in there!

The Inside said...

By the time I finished "Tai-Pan" I could speak Chinese. And when I finished "Watership Down" I found myself happily cursing in Rabbit. ESID to anyone who won't drink room-temperature gin!

HermanTurnip said...

I guess I'm not the only one that quotes books that nobody has read? I feel so much better now! *whew!* I think I'll subtly drop a line or two from "A Strange Manuscript Found In A Copper Cylinder" into my next party conversation, then mercilessly mock whomever doesn't get the reference. Thanks, Pearl! ;-)

EBENEZER ADOKWEI said...

Hi friend,great post you have here.It's really nice to be back once more to your lovely blog.
Hope you good.It has been a while we since connected so I decided to pass by and say hello and also let you know that, I have just posted the "5" steps to mind liberation so come check it up and comment. Will be following you and expecting to share and learn from you respectively.Have a wonderful and fruitful day hoping to hear from your lovely self again. A million thanks in advance.

EBENEZER ADOKWEI
(EBENDY)

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! You've struck a chord here. Come the zombie apocalypse, the dead folk who never picked up a book will rise from the grave as The Unread. Indigo

IndigoWrath said...

And by the way, schnorrer is a fine word. I use it all the time. About myself. So, when can I come visit?

hoodyhoo said...

I've been reading a lot of historical fiction either set in Pre-European America or Henry VIII-ish England. So I'm eating a lot of beans and corn and washing it down with wine. LOTS of wine.

Kristy said...

You must be highly impressionable. Like Johnny Depp. And Madonna. Give them a couple pirate movies or some time in Europe and suddenly they have these accented speaking voices!

Patricia said...

You need a Kindle. Just sayin.

Jhon Baker said...

It would be a far better world if everyone allowed books to influence their behavior. well, the right books unless it was one of those parties.

bettyl said...

How reminiscent of past conversations of my own!