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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm Not a Flake. I'm Sensitive.

Some people buy tools. Others buy shoes.

I buy books.

My sister is staring at the stacks of them on the floor of my 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. “The last book 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.”

44 comments:

Vicus Scurra said...

Read Lady Chatterley then come and see me.

willfulresemblance said...

I love that you get so caught up in books - so do I. After reading all of Kurt Vonnegut I now find myself saying - ho hum, so it goes and other little things that present as quirks in his books - also thinking of writing more short stories than poetry. Books are the escape into other worlds, true freedom if you can handle it. - Jhon

Shelly said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I strongly considered getting tatted up when I read the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. I also started seriously exploring us taking a tour of Egypt when I read Cleopatra: A Life.

I've just started American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History and I wondered why my husband started locking up the rifles...

CarrieBoo said...

Love it! I remember thinking I was the karate kid for a while... I mustn't have read the right books, or else the effects have been too subtle to notice. I shall have to pay more attention! Hi-yaaaaaaaa!

Joshua said...

I'm like this with movies. Finding Forrester is why I wear my socks inside out.

Simply Suthern said...

You are what you read I spose.

I read bumper stickers. That explains alot.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Hmmmm...judging by my waistline I've been reading too many recipe books.

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Pearl, this is hilarious. Wonderful stuff. Great dialogue and this is precisely how a sensitive person reacts to input from excellent writing. Suspension of reality. Awe shaddup eh. ":))

Laurel's Quill said...

Sounds like me and my sister. LOL!

Glen said...

I have no idea whatsoever what malted milk balls are? I think I need to find out.

btw - don't, whatever you do, start reading porn...

Austan said...

I had no idea others did this. Hooray I'm just sensitive!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

I'm still talking with a Southern accent after reading The Help. Which is ridiculous, because I'm Canadian, going around saying,"How's your grits, eh?"

Andrea said...

I'm fairly certain my kids will play multiple rounds of Rock Paper Scissors when I die to determine who has to go through my book collection.

For the record, the person would be trying to win the right NOT to have to do it.

What can I say? I gots a lot a books.
(My most treasured are my collection of Harry Potter books purchased in different languages from around the world.)

Jinksy said...

I've just done my homework for next week's creative writing class - I had to write a conversation for two voices, but I've yet to find a book that would have helped me cope with the accent of the second character. What a pity you don't live next door - I could have consulted one of YOUR many books!!!

Symdaddy said...

I gave up reading serious books a long time ago after dropping War And Peace on my foot.

I found another interest and became a Tibialoconcupiscent.

Cindi said...

Love this! I've also got stacks for read and unread books, and am sensitive! I've decorated houses based on books I've read, and truly tried out recipes found in some. I wanted to start a dinner book club where all we read were books with recipes (NOT cookbooks but actual stories with recipes as a "character") and then gather once a month to try the recipes and discuss the book.

Pearl said...

So what you're all saying is that I'm in good company?!

Except for Vicus Scurra. He wants me to join in on the dark side.
:-)

And Symdaddy, who is forcing me to look up bits of words. Dammit, Sym! You know how I feel about thinking before noon!!

Kleinste Motte said...

Reading this post brought a host of memories to my slowly demented brain. I've been there.
Sensitive :)

Belle said...

My daughter identified with Anne of Green Gables and I think she was changed by that book (in a good way).
I used to act like the women I would see in the movies. For some strange reason, I loved Scarlett O'Hara - from the book, even before I saw the movie. She was such a bitch! I think I liked her because she was the opposite of me. She had a lot of guts.

jenny_o said...

This happens for me with books AND with other people's language. So help me, I talk to other people based on how they talk to me. If they're droppin' their g's, I'm droppin' mine. If they're using bad grammar, mine slips a notch too. If they are comfortable using polysyllabic words, I let mine loose. It's like being a chameleon. It helps me feel like I fit in. Hmm. I wonder what a shrink would say about that ... anyway, yes, sensitive seems like a better description than looney, doesn't it ...

Sush said...

You should have heard the list of animals I wanted after reading 'All Creatures Great and Small'. My husband said five kids, two dogs and a bird was all I was allowed. Sigh...

jabblog said...

I pick up speech mannerisms from books and from people I spend any time with. My eldest daughter picks up accents . . .

esbboston said...

Reading can take you to a different place,
And make strange words and sounds,
Come out of your face.

Its fun to read a lot!!

Kevin Musgrove said...

This is why I had to stop watching Tarzan films.

bill lisleman said...

this was a fun post to read

The Jules said...

You are sensitive to sugggestion. You want to buy an Englishman quality European beers and have them delivered to his home. You want to pay for this from afar. You want to PM him for his address.

Is this working?

Gigi said...

Oh Pearl, you are DEFINITELY not alone in this. In fact, I vaguely remember my mother hiding certain books from me when I was younger because I had a propensity to act out things I'd read.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

I read your dialogue in the appropriate accent. It just goes with the words you wrote.
I do this too. My daughter inherited this...both my sisters and my mother have the book buyers addiction as well. It must follow the female genetic code in our family.
How do you find time to write so much and still have time to read all of those wonderful books?

esbboston said...

I own a copy of The Master and The Margarita, I will check on the White Guard to see if it is on Kindle ...

mrwriteon said...

I like the idea of you living the book you're reading. Maybe I should try that. I'll try to finally get through Ulysses but will have to do the entire thing in a day. The Molly Bloom episode will have to move faster than Molly might like.

mermaid gallery said...

the imagination at work is a beautiful thing...way to celebrate the arts!

Vapid Vixen said...

Haha!! I totally heard the Yiddish in my head as I was reading. Oi Vey!!

kt said...

I have read out over 90 authors and have been slowly
rereading my old books (over 500). What is truly frightening or wonderful, I don't really know is that i don't remember a lot of them. I am getting ready to reread "The Third Policeman,'" by Flann O'Brien. I remember loving the book but only remember a few snippets........
by the way....thanks for visiting, and commenting......kt

Daisy said...

I love books! Get so absorbed in a good story that all else is forgotten.

Jocelyn said...

I'm reading DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY right now and have begun chloroforming and skinning young women throughout my fair burg.

Wait.

What?

The Elephant's Child said...

I cannot see any reason why you (or I) cannot be sensitive flakes. It could get confusing if you had two very different books on the go though.

esbboston said...

I will go through times of studying one particular movie for awhile, so I was working on "Havana" and doing abit of Lena Olin and it would drive my wife crazy, but I just played innocent, "What do you mean?"

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Pearl, you are most definitely in good company. I forgot to mention in my last post that I end up speaking differently when speaking to people that have different dialects --English or otherwise--drawls included, but it's even worse than that, I also think in different dialect! Maybe we're not sensitive, just plain weird. ":)

Amy said...

After reading A Moveable Feast I wanted to move to Paris, and do nothing more than hang out in a cafe and write. And I'm not ashamed to admit, I began teaching myself French after reading My Life in France.

Diane said...

Read MY book! Then you can, with confidence, use such interesting words as 'fluters'. 'Veiners'. And the all-important 'V-tools'! Gold!

Kara said...

This cracked me up! I have just finished reading Dreiser's An American Tragedy and had thought to myself, "Gee! It sure would be swell to visit the Adirondack lakes again." Honestly!

HumorSmith said...

Well played young lady! I knew I liked you...I am a book nerd first class. I even go back and read my favorites over and over. I can't tell you how many times I've read the December 1965 Playboy. Um, wait...does that count?

Kristy said...

My brother is amazed at my constant reading. I usually have a few books going at once.