1990 - 2014
Last Halloween, toward the end of a costume party, my friend Joe flagged me down as I loosey-goosily weaved my way through a crowd toward the booze. He introduced me to his friend and co-worker Amanda, who he declared was a serious reader like me. He also told her I wrote. This intrigued her.
What intrigued me was that she was dressed like a lady version of Alex from A Clockwork Orange.
A group of us did shots. As she drank her chaser, her eyes didn't leave mine. I smiled, she smiled. I asked what she was about, and in just a few minutes I was intrigued by a woman who graduated college at 19 and had read all of Dickens. She turned 23 the week before, and she was working as a data analyst, making more money than I probably ever will.
She came home with me that night, two wildly drunken messes rambling about books, by way of a generous ride of a friend. Once everyone left my apartment, she reviewed my bookshelves, and we discussed Kundera. I learned she had tattoos, and her next one was going to be text from the mind-altering masterpiece, and favorite of mine, House of Leaves.
For whatever stupid reason, I didn't follow up for a month. It's a more complicated story than that, but that's the best I can do right now. So on December 1st, I texted her.
- J: Amanda! This is Jake, that mouthy idiot you whimsically decided to spend Halloween with, texting you a month later for...well, no good reason. Random? Sure. But just wanted to say if you're interested in goofing off, talking books and getting drunk, I do alright in those departments. Sending timely text messages...not so much.
- A: Use of the word "whimsically" is just endearing enough to compensate for the lateness. I'll look forward to drunken bookish shenanigans.
- A: "But the music is what's eating away at your hearing. You'll never hear certain pitches because of the music you've loved. You don't think that's beautiful?"
- J: "No, not at all. I think that's dumb. And that might honestly be the youngest thing you've said all night."
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
- In Search of Lost Time (specifically Swann's Way) by Marcel Proust
- White Oleander by Janet Fitch
- The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
- Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
- The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
- Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- Inferno by Dante Alighieri
- Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
- Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
- J: I HAVE NOW ACQUIRED ETHAN FROM AND AM BEYOND CLASSY I THINK
- A: That book might make you depressed instead of classy...however, I'll be sure to sport a monocle and raised pinkies around you henceforth.
- J: Oh...shoot. I think I was always under the impression it was a satire of sorts. Regardless, I need to level up in society!
- A: Nope...I remember it as an exploration of the many ways love can fuck up your life. It's worth a read, though Age of Innocence is my favorite Wharton and might get you closer to satire.
- J: Wow. I misjudged this entirely. Thank god it's short. It sounds like it's going to kick me in the dick until I'm done with it. I do want to read Age of Innocence though. Also, I think The Bell Jar will be up next, so I can just feel bad indefinitely.
- A: Yep, make sure you have a bowl nearby for your tears. The Bell Jar is one of my all-time favorites: I wrote my senior thesis on it in high school.
- J: Damn. I feel like every other high school had senior thesis except for mine. I've always meant to read The Bell Jar, though I think I was pretty sassy when it came to girls reading excerpts from it to m back then.
- A: Why would a girl read The Bell Jar to you? I can't imagine that book being used as anything but a repellant against most boys.
- J: Well, it did seem weird, but I think it was the first intellectual text my female friends grasped and appreciated. Hemingway or Fitzgerald might've been the first for boys? It was during that era of youth where everyone first started having forced philosophical opinions on fucking EVERYTHING.
- J: Darling Lady Amanda! What say you to glorious delirium next Friday evening, whether it be cultured or bonkers? We can finally see that cowboy documentary I know you're so invested in, or we can attend that exhibit opening of popsicle stick structures I know you had your heart set on. Maybe even burn effigies for...well, fuck, I don't even know where I'm going with this.
- A: Heyyy. I have a boyfriend now...but if you'd be interested in hanging out without the hooking up part, I really have been dying to see some popsicle stick art.
- J: It was only a matter of time. You're too rad not to get swept up by some scholarly wisecracker. And, yeah, I'm still down to hang! Let's do it up on a week night then, instead of a Friday evening, so it's easier for me to not get hammered and forgetful. I need more classy art and book talk in my world.
- A: Sounds good! Hit me up next week when you're free :)