The Boy

He is not conventionally good looking,
except for those blue eyes.
He wears sandals every day,
button-down, collared shirts.
His hair is a mass of black curls.
He might be Spanish, Lebanese, Portuguese,
but his last name is generic.
I might want his last name
one day, so I practice
scribbling it rapidly,
as if I am signing checks
from our future joint account.
Something slipped from
his pocket one day.
I caught it but didn’t
tell him that he dropped it.
It was a receipt
from the library. He’d checked out
eleven 800-page fantasy novels
but not a single romance.

Return to Chapter 4

Books I Can’t Read

Some books I have tried to read multiple times, but I just can’t make it through them. For this, I am ashamed of myself, because practically everyone else seems to think they are great reads.

I have never read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I slogged my way through The Hobbit a long time ago but didn’t like it and was glad to have “gotten it over with.” I tried several times to read the first Lord of the Rings novel and never could. I put it down, shaking my head in disgust each time. Not because of the author or the book, but because of me. This is such a great book. Everyone loves this series. It’s supposedly full of Catholic symbolism. Why the hell can’t I like it? Even the movies fall flat for me. I saw the entirety of the third one, but it made no sense because I hadn’t seen the previous two. Also, it was Way. Too. Long.

I also tried to read Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, which is supposed to be another great Catholic novel. Couldn’t get into it. Short stories by Flannery O’Connor confuse me, and she’s another great Catholic author. (Actually, short stories in general confuse me. By the time they’re over, I’m like… WTF just happened?)

What’s even worse is books that I did read but didn’t comprehend (or only partially comprehended) because the language was so difficult. Proust comes to mind, as well as certain things by Dickens. How can I call myself an English major if I have such a hard time with these books?

To be honest, I spend a lot of time feeling guilty because I’m not an “intelligent” or “intellectual” reader. I don’t have the mental energy for something complicated, where I have to figure out the meaning behind all the symbolism and hunt for the metaphors that are buried in all these great classics. I have a lot of these kinds of books sitting on shelves in the apartment, but I think I’ll end up donating them. Might as well face the facts. I doubt I will ever read them. (And I need the space for baby and children’s books anyway. Baby Cheep Cheep. Now that’s an easy read!)

Ever started a book you just couldn’t get through?


Pennies Down the Hall

I walked down B-hall,
the one that’s always spiced
with pennies.
Upperclassmen fling them,
trying to catch freshmen off guard.
Every time I see them,
those shining, round,
one-cent moments,
they make me turn my head.
When I think no one’s looking,
I stoop to pick up a few,
they’ll bring me good luck
with him.
I check the years when
they were minted,
looking for his year,
1988, and make sure
it still shines.
I’ll keep the pennies in my pocket,
let them go through
the washing machine,
and try to bring out that shine
the way he shines.

Return to Chapter 3 | Read Chapter 5