Life is full of annoyances. People who chew with their mouths open are annoying. Little dogs with high-pitched barks are annoying. I’ve even been told that I’m annoying. But it took me a long time to realize that individual words could be annoying.
Scribit has a list of words that bloggers and websites shouldn’t use because readers find them annoying. To be honest, I don’t know what a Scribit is; I just accidentally found this list (I’m pretty sure Scribit doesn’t know what a Dysfunctional Literacy is either).
Most of the words on the Scribit list don’t bug me. I have no reaction to the word moist (supposedly the most hated of words). I say slacks a lot because I wear slacks a lot, and I’d rather say slacks instead of trousers, no matter what a list says. I understand that awesome is over-used, but a lot of that is hyperbole, and most people understand that awesome doesn’t really mean awesome anymore. I understand why irregardless is on the list, but I understand what people mean when they say it, so that doesn’t bug me either.
The list didn’t include any racist words. I think racist words (which I won’t use) are universally hated, except by racists, but everybody is afraid to use racist words, even when they’re talking about racism because they don’t want to be accused of being racist. I don’t even read Huckleberry Finn in public because I don’t want to be accused of being racist.
But once I started thinking about potentially annoying words, I realized there was indeed a word that I hate. There is a word that makes me cringe whenever I hear it.
AND THE MOST ANNOYING WORD (in my opinion) IS…
Over the years, I’ve come to hate the word share. In school it meant giving up something I owned for somebody else who probably didn’t deserve it. In my professional life, it means giving my coworkers the chance to get credit for my ideas.
I guess I should explain.
I once had a boss that used to say share by extending the sound over two syllables (shay-air) in a nasally tone at brainstorming sessions. I cringed whenever she said “Shay-air,” and it didn’t help that I was usually the first person she called upon. I think she enjoyed watching me say “Uh…. Errr….,” with my face turning red.
I felt bad when this boss got demoted (or laterally moved), but I didn’t shay-air my sentiment with anybody else because she was unpopular and had added a bunch of unnecessary and counterproductive procedures to our jobs.
Now whenever I hear the word share, I hear shay-air, no matter how the word is uttered. It’s like the fingernails on the chalkboard (which might be a bad example because that never bugged me).
Now that I think about it, I don’t even like the concept of sharing. I’d rather just tell somebody my idea than share it. I’d rather just let somebody borrow my stuff than share it. In some cases, I’d even give my stuff away before I share it. At the very least, I’d buy somebody the same thing that I have instead of sharing mine.
Very few words have both an annoying concept AND an annoying sound. Because of this, the word share is in an annoying league of its own. Maybe it’s just me.
I don’t know. Are there any words more annoying than share?
And please don’t share your ideas with me. Just tell me what you think.
I knew I had no chance romantically with Danielle, the hot chick in a clingy black t-shirt. She was way out of my league. So when she unexpectedly said she was coming up to my apartment, my goal was simply to not embarrass myself. I had been sick when we first met and hadn’t made a good impression. I had fumbled through my explanation when I told her why I had her undergarments. And now when we walked into my apartment, the first thing she saw was a giant roach on the wall.
It was the cockiness of the roach that ticked me off. Here it had two humans staring him down, and it just stood in place as if it had paid the rent.
“You going to do anything about that?” Danielle asked quietly.
I sighed and strode to the kitchen, grabbed a can of bug spray from a cabinet, and shook the can as I approached the roach.
“You know you can just use a shoe,” Danielle said.
“That’s for savages,” I proclaimed, aiming the can at the arrogant roach who hadn’t yet moved. But when I pressed the nozzle, it bent to the side and released no spray. It was too full to get nothing. If there had been nothing, it would have a sppfffft sound. I didn’t even get the sppffft sound. I would have peeked inside the nozzle to see what was going on, but I’d watched enough cartoons to know how disastrous that could be.
Danielle pointed to my feet and mouthed the word “Shoe.”
Instead, I smashed the can against the roach. It dropped to the floor and remained still.
“You still should have used a shoe,” Danielle said, her arms folded.
“I spent my own money on this worthless can,” I replied, dropping it into my waste basket in the kitchen. “It’s going to kill a roach one way or another.”
Now that the roach was gone, Danielle looked around the apartment. She glanced at my television and vcr sitting on a low wooden table. She eyed the two bookshelves filled with hardcover classic literature bought from used bookstores. She shook her head at two old couches that I had purchased from some guys moving out just as I had been moving in. This looked like it was an apartment for a college student, not a young professional.
“What do you do?” Danielle asked, looking at my shoes again. There was a contrast between my clothes and my furniture.
I started walking down the hallway to my bedroom. I hoped Danielle would stay in the living room, but she followed me to the end of the dining area. I really didn’t want her to see the bedrooms.
I told her what I did for a living. It was a boring job, and people usually yawned or nodded while saying something like “That’s nice.”
Instead, Danielle said, “You must make pretty good money.”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Then what do you spend it on?” Obviously, it wasn’t on furniture.
“My student loans are paid off. My car’s paid off. So now I’m saving for a house.” I was talking loudly because I thought she’d be hanging back in the dining area, but then I realized that Danielle was a couple steps behind me, so I lowered my voice. “You can stay right there while I’m getting your stuff.”
“But I want to see what’s in your bedroom,” she said, tilting her head and sticking her lips out.
“A bed and a dresser and a walk-in closet.”
“No, the other one.” Ah, the second bedroom was a mystery to her. Really, it was just stacks of books piled up because I was too cheap and lazy to buy more shelves, and there were a few thousand comic books in long white storage boxes.
“I’m sorry,” I explained, shutting the mystery bedroom’s door just in case Danielle got too bold. “Even I don’t want to look in there most of the time.”
“Not even a peak?” she asked with a whisper.
“Just stay right there,” I said as I went into the main bedroom. I left that door open so I could see out of the corner of my eye if Danielle got too curious. I stepped into the walk-in closet and grabbed a shoe box from the corner shelf. When I presented the shoe box, Danielle was where I had left her in the hallway and the second bedroom door was still closed.
“Shoes?” she said, but the box was too light and when she shook it (I laughed when she did that and she frowned at me) there was no sound. Then it dawned on her. “Are you serious?”
“I’m sorry. I thought you’d want me to keep them seperated from my stuff,” I said. “Maybe I should have had them gift wrapped.”
I hadn’t wanted to simply hand Danielle her three undergarments back. That would have just seemed classless. She scooped the panties out of the shoe box and handed it back to me. For some reason, that almost offended me. “I’ll… I’ll walk you out,” I said.
“Thank you,” she said. I didn’t know her well enough to judge, but she sounded sincere. She walked slowly so that I couldn’t help but almost catch up, and her arm brushed up against mine again. My imagination had to be messing with me.
When we reached the living room, Danielle stopped and faced me. “Have you read all of these?” she asked, pointing to my bookshelf.
“Yes, of course,” I said. I had read a few of them completely, but I had at least glanced through all of them. I had read enough about each one to hold a quick conversation before I’d need to change the subject.
“You’ve read Moby Dick?” she said.
“Yes. I didn’t enjoy it, but I read it.”
“You’ve read…” She squinted at a large volume at the top of the shelf. “You’ve read The Brothers K… The Brothers K….”
“I don’t know how to pronounce it either,” I said. “When I get to those long Russian names, I just change them to Smith and Jones in my head.”
“I like books,” Danielle said. “But I didn’t go to school… college.”
“So, what do you do?” I asked.
Danielle paused and narrowed her eyes at me. “I dance at Nero’s.”
I didn’t know why, but I knew this was a pivotal moment. Nero’s was a topless club, one of the most prominent in the city. It wasn’t as sleazy as most, but still, it was a topless club. Danielle studied my face, probably judging me by what I was about to say. Mentioning Nero’s would usually bring a smirk to my face, but I quickly tightened my mouth. I had to think of the right response, nothing too patronizing. The silence was about to turn awkward as I thought about what to say. I really needed to think of something to say.
“You probably make more money than I do,” I declared, somehow maintaining my straight face.
Danielle gazed out the patio window to a view of the apartment across the sidewalk. It looked exactly like mine.
“I have some good nights,” she said quietly. Then before I could change the subject, she turned to me again with a startlingly wide smile. “Jimmy, it was nice to meet you.”
She extended her hand (the one NOT holding her undergarments), and I was relieved that she wasn’t going for the insincere hug. I hate the insincere hug. As we shook, she said, “You’re cute. And you’re fun to talk to.”
“Thanks,” I said. She called me cute? And fun to talk to? I get complimented for several things, like being cooperative, reliable, and a good listener, but being fun to talk to was a new one. I had such a difficult time grappling with that that Danielle was out the door before I could get an appropriate response out.
I muttered a lame “It was good to meet you too” but I don’t think she heard. She was already halfway down the steps. I watched as she power walked in her tight jeans and black t-shirt down the sidewalk back to the parking lot. I couldn’t even enjoy the view because I kept wrestling with the last part of our conversation. Nero’s? Cute? Fun to talk to?
Once I cleared my head, I realized that she talked to guys for a living. She probably told every guy she met that he was cute and fun to talk to. I told myself to get over it. I might have been cute on a good day, but I probably wasn’t fun to talk to. Besides, I wasn’t going to see Danielle again. I didn’t go to topless clubs. I didn’t have anything against them except they were expensive. I couldn’t save my money if I was blowing it on strippers and overpriced beer. Danielle was a hot chick who wore clingy t-shirts (when she wasn’t working), and we weren’t going to see each other again.
As far as I knew, that was the end of the story.
To be continued… Yeah, it’s not the end of the story. That’s why I issued the warning.
To read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.
The problem with writing about legal stuff is that it’s boring. I was planning to go to law school once, but when I worked at the law school library as an undergrad, I saw lots of really tired, bored students who could barely find a copy of the Federal Register when the volumes were already in proper numerical order (because of me).
Even though legal stuff is boring, it’s often really important. Boring stuff is usually really important. It’s why people who handle important stuff get paid lots of money; it’s so boring that the rest of us don’t want to deal with it.
There are several boring legal issues in the literary world right now. The United States Justice Department is suing Apple for collusion on ebook prices with publishing companies (who have already settled). Publishing companies and authors are suing each other for the rights to make electronic versions of books from decades ago. And now self-published authors are jumping into legal battles by suing a self-publishing company for (allegedly) not doing what they were supposed to do (read here for a little more information).
There are going to be a lot of boring details in this lawsuit. What was the publishing company supposed to do? What did they NOT do that they were supposed to do? What’s the proof that the publishing company didn’t do what they were supposed to do?
The company getting sued is Author’s Solutions. Any company that that has the word solution in the title is probably going to cause a lot of problems (don’t sue me, I’m just kidding around!). I don’t trust a company that has Solutions in its name, just like I don’t trust a company that starts off with AAA just to be first in listings. Maybe I’d trust a company that starts with ZZZ, but I’d probably want some references first.
Since I’m a writer, my impulse is to root for the author plaintiffs. I can see how a self-publishing company (especially one with the word Solutions in its name) would be unethical and offer service after service to milk as much money from authors as possible. However, I also know that writers (but not all) can sometimes be whiney and blame others for their lack of success. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough facts to know which way to lean.
When I was younger, that wouldn’t have mattered. I would have chosen a side, defended it, doubled down if necessary, and impugned the character of anybody who disagreed with me. However, I’ve learned that NOT having an opinion for a while actually makes life easier.
My advice for this (just as it is for MOST political/legal issues) is to not have an opinion for six months, then come back and see what’s going on.
A tough issue for any self-publishing author is how much (if any) money to spend. We writers might complain about how traditional publishing companies suck (because they won’t accept our books), but at least these companies invest their own money so that authors don’t have to. I’ve never invested a bunch of my own money on my writing, but I imagine that it takes some of the fun out of writing, especially if the self-published book isn’t successful.
If I were a self-published author who had spent hundreds (or maybe thousands) of dollars and wasn’t happy with the services I paid for, I’d be angry too. I don’t want to be angry when I write. Anger sometimes can help me accomplish certain tasks (I can fold laundry like origami when I’m angry), but writing isn’t one of them. Since I don’t want writing to become a source of anger for me, I probably won’t spend a lot of money on self-publishing.
Seriously, I originally meant to write an insightful piece about literary lawsuits, but it was just too boring. I guess I ramble when I’m bored.
Despite being a writer, I’m not a good conversationalist. Talking to regular strangers is difficult enough for me, but this situation was really awkward. I’d been holding on to this hot chick’s underwear for almost a month (not literally holding it), and she was walking with me to my apartment to get them. In the meantime, I had to talk to her.
Politics and religion were out of the question. We’d already discussed football a few weeks ago. I refuse to talk about the weather. That left… silence?
I figured the hot chick in her clingy black t-shirt would want to keep a slight distance from me as we walked through the apartment complex parking lot. After all, I was a strange guy (from her point of view) with her undergarments. If I had been her, I would have thought of myself as a strange guy; I would have kept myself a couple arm length’s from me. But she strolled right next to me. She walked so close to me that our arms touched. I didn’t mind. It was a cool feeling, her smooth brown arm brushing up against my sleeve, but I thought she’d want her space.
When we reached the sidewalk, I stepped to the right edge, and she took the center, and our arms kept brushing. This couldn’t be right. I thought about moving off the sidewalk altogether, but that seemed too much. If she were determined to brush up against me as we walked, then that was her issue, not mine.
“I’m really glad I ran into you,” I said. “It will be good to get your undergarments off my hands.” I paused. “Not that I ever had them on my hands… or on any part of me. I mean that I want to be absolved of all responsibility for your undergarments.” I paused again. “I don’t want to feel responsible for your clothes.”
“I know what absolved means,” the hot chick said gently.
Ouch! Sometimes I over-explain things that don’t need explaining. Here I was worried about the hot chick thinking I was a pervert, and instead she thought I was condescending. At least that was the lesser of two evils, but not by much. I needed to change the subject.
“Hey, thank you for running my clothes through a second cycle in the dryer,” I said. “That was very thoughtful of you.”
“Oh, that,” she said, lowering her voice. “Some fat mom was giving me the evil eye when I took my clothes out, so I started a new cycle just to piss her off. I hope you made her wait.”
There had been only one working dryer at the time, so starting a new cycle would have meant 40 more minutes of waiting for the mom.
“Yeah, I got there late,” I said. In reality, I had taken my clothes out maybe five minutes after the hot chick had left, and the fat mom had grabbed the dryer right away, but I didn’t have the heart (or fortitude) to tell the hot chick in a clingy t-shirt that she had paid for the fat mom’s dryer cycle. She was better off not knowing.
“I probably shouldn’t have done that to her,” the hot chick said. “My friends say that I’m too vindictive.” She nudged my ribs with her elbow. When I made eye contact, she gave me a toothy smile, the first real smile of our conversation. “That means evil.”
I couldn’t tell if she was kidding or not, so I just nodded. “I don’t see you around much. Do you live here?”
“Kind of,” she said. “But I’m moving out. Like I said, some crazy shit’s going on in my life.”
“Crazy shit?” I asked, fishing for clarification.
“Crazy shit,” she repeated, meaning that she wasn’t giving out any more information.
“Crazy shit,” I said, acknowledging that I understood.
I thought she was going to say “Crazy shit” again, but instead she said, “You live in one of those two-bedroom apartments?”
My place was in an eight apartment unit with four apartments on each side. My apartment was an upper level, and we had just reached the stairs leading up to my entrance. “Yeah,” I said.
“How much do these run?”
After I told her my monthly rent, she asked, “How do you and your roommate split that? Those second bedrooms suck.”
“I don’t have a roommate,” I said, motioning her to walk up the steps before me.
“Interesting,” she said as she brushed her arm against me again. “What do you do with the extra room?”
I kept my answer as vague as possible as I followed her up the steps. “Storage. I have a lot of stuff.”
“What kind of stuff?” she asked.
We had just reached my door, and I wasn’t ready to answer her question yet. “Hey, I usually introduce myself before I let strangers come into my apartment,” I said. “My name is Jimmy.”
‘I’m Danielle,” she said, extending her hand. We shook. Her grip was firm and dry. Mine was a bit clammy, so I kept the handshake short and hoped she didn’t notice.
I unlocked the door and let Danielle enter first. I was about to explain why my apartment was so sparsely furnished when Danielle exclaimed:
“Jesus Christ, that’s a big roach!”
At least I wasn’t going to have to explain my furniture situation. And I didn’t have to worry about making small talk anymore.
To be continued!
And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.
It doesn’t take much to make people believe that I’m a well-read literary type. I put a bunch of thick hardcover classics on my bookshelf in my living room, so all my guests assume that I’ve read them. I’ve memorized a few quotes from literature to make me sound smarter than I really am. And I make sure not to talk about football around my intellectual literary friends.
So when I heard there was a list of the 20 most well-read cities in the U.S., I thought, what would it take to make a well-read city? After all, if I can fool my intellectual literary friends into thinking I’m well-read, what can a city do?
Being well-read is a trait that a city would probably want to have. When other city lists come out (fattest city, city with the most crime, highest taxes city), most cities don’t want to be on those lists (except a couple cities are proud of their high taxes).
After a little research (because a little research is all that I’m willing to do), I found out what the four factors were in being on the Most Well-Read City list:
1. Book sales
2. Magazine sales
3. Newspaper sales
4. Amazon Kindle sales (This list of well-read cities was compiled by… Amazon. I guess that’s important.)
Magazines count as being well-read? I feel cheated. All these years I spent finding used, yellowed hardcover editions of classic literature so that I could be considered well-read, and all I had to do was put a bunch of Newsweek and Playboy magazines out there. If you count comic books as magazines, I could have put my complete collection of The Avengers out there, and I would have been considered well-read by all friends and colleagues.
Newspapers also count? I didn’t even know people bought newspapers to read them anymore (except in the bathroom). Evidently, clipping coupons and looking for store sales makes a person well-read. All those years, I could have been saving money instead of pretending to read big books.
To me, the fact that Amazon used its Kindle sales as part of its criteria (while ignoring digital sales from other booksellers) invalidates its own list. If Barnes & Noble comes out with its own list, cities that have lots of Barnes & Noble stores might be the Most Well-Read Cities.
It’s not that Amazon has put out a highly flawed, publicized list that chaps my hide. It’s that I spent years of effort convincing my friends, peers, and coworkers that I was well-read. Now Amazon has changed the meaning of well-read and made all that effort wasted. That really ticks me off.
Now just because Amazon has redefined well-read doesn’t mean their version has to stick. We traditionalists (even a fraudulent traditionalist like me) can still influence what well- read means and what it doesn’t. What characteristics go into being well-read?
- Does any book count?
- What books are worth more than others?
- Should newspapers and magazines count?
- If digital books count (and they probably should), shouldn’t ALL of them count (not just the ones on Kindle)?
- Should the digital-only books count as much as traditionally published books?
- What kind of scoring scale should be used to rate the varying kinds of literature?
I probably don’t have the right to be upset. After all, I’ve always faked being well-read. It’s the well-read literary types who have actually read the classics that should feel cheated. Or should they? Is all reading considered equal?
That’s probably for people much smarter and much more well-read than me to decide.
I’ve always loved the dictionary, even if I’ve loved it for the wrong reasons. When I was a kid, I liked to look up dirty words and laugh at the definitions. As I got older, I appreciated the giant unabridged dictionary at the back of the library. It was always attached to a table or podium so it wouldn’t get stolen (who’d steal a dictionary?) or dropped (yeah, I could see that happening, and a kid gets squashed, and a parent sues).
Anyway, the guy who runs the Oxford English Dictionary (the formal position is called Chief Editor) is retiring after 37 years at OED and about 20 as Chief Editor. 37 years is a long time at any one place. 20 is a lot at any one position, so I hope they at least get him a big thesaurus as a parting gift.
In the BBC article reporting this retirement, the retiring Chief Editor chose a few words as examples of what he does, which is to figure out word history. The selected words were pom, Etaoin shrdlu, and New Model Army.
Even though the history behind these terms/phrases may be interesting, I was turned off by my lack of familiarity with them. How can I be interested in these words if I never use them? That’s not a complaint against the Chief editor. That’s simply my reaction.
As an American, I probably wasn’t the author’s intended audience anyway, but these examples probably would not inspire people NOT interested in the dictionary to become interested in the dictionary.
To help out, I’ve chosen three simple words, each with an interesting history. Despite my past fascination with profanity and vulgar words, I’ve chosen three common words that aren’t dirty, profane, or vulgar. Since I’m American, I’m using a Merriam-Webster Intermediate Dictionary, an abridged version that my kids use at school and at home.
Short Version: Nice used to mean “stupid.”
Nice comes from the Latin word “nescius” which means (or meant) “ignorant.” In the 15th century, the English word nice meant “stupid.” By the 16th century, the meaning of nice had changed a bit to “finicky.” Then by the 19th century, nice had come to mean “pleasant” or “agreeable” which is still one of nice’s most common meanings.
Short Version: Snob used to mean “a guy who made shoes.”
Snob used to be an English dialect word for cobbler (a person who makes or repairs shoes). Snob then came to mean “a common person” since cobblers were thought of as common or lower class. Then snob became “a lower class person who pretended to be upper class or imitated the mannerisms of noble people” (kind of like how I used to pretend to have read literature that I really hadn’t). Now snob is “a person who looks down on others.”
Short Version- Travel used to mean “to torture” (kind of).
Travel starts from the Latin (of course) word tripaliare which meant “to torture.” The French word travailler also meant “to torture” but also meant “to work really hard”. The Middle English word travaile meant “to work hard” but also “to travel” (maybe because travelling was so difficult… and this was BEFORE airline screening). Travailen eventually split into two different words, travail for “hard work” and travel for “to go on a trip.”
See how easy that was? I spent five minutes with a dictionary and learned a bunch of word history. Maybe next week I’ll spend five minutes with a thesaurus.
Even though I try to be tactful, sometimes there is no easy way for a guy to say something to a woman. It’s tough to tell a lady she has bad breath. It’s impolite to tell a female she has a booger dangling out of her nose. And I had no idea how I was going to tell a hot chick in a clingy t-shirt that I’d been holding on to her panties for the last month. But I was determined to do it.
I was returning home from work on a weeknight when I saw her. I was parking my car in the tenant’s covered section in the middle of the lot, and as I glanced to my right, I spotted a hot chick in tight jeans. I wasn’t sure if it was the right hot chick, but the jeans looked like they belonged to a hot chick.
Side view glances can be misleading, so I stopped my car in mid-turn into my spot so that I didn’t sideswipe the car next to me while I was checking her out. Sure enough, it was the hot chick, in tight faded jeans and a black t-shirt. She opened the trunk to a red sports car about 10 car lengths from me in the diagonal guest parking section. She bent over, but I was too far away from her to enjoy it, and she picked up a box, threw it into the trunk, slammed the trunk door shut, and power-walked away into the labyrinth of sidewalks through our apartment complex.
I was pretty sure it was her (long, wavy dark hair and light brown skin), but her body language was different. In the laundry room, she had strolled leisurely (until she had found out that there was only one dryer and I had already claimed it). Now she was darting around on a mission. I carefully resumed parking, and as I was shutting off the engine, I saw the hot chick already returning to her car.
Whatever was going on, the hot chick walked with purpose. She threw another box into the trunk, slammed it shut, and stormed back toward the driver’s side of her car. I didn’t have time to think about what to say. I jumped out of my car and ran toward her, yelling:
“Hey! Hey! Excuse me! Hey!”
She turned toward me in a defensive stance, both fists tight, her eyes narrowed right at me. “What!” she said.
I stopped. I even backed up with my open hands in the air. Her sharp tone kept me from checking her bra status, which would have been difficult with her black t-shirt anyway. I maintained eye contact. Yeah, this woman had flawless brown skin and curves perfect for jeans, but she was also angry, and it’s not a good idea to get caught checking out a pissed off hot chick.
“Hey, I’m the guy you shared the dryer with a few weeks ago,” I stated carefully.
“What are you talking about?” she said, not blinking. This close, I could see that the edges of her eyes were red.
I took a step back and said, “I’m the guy with the monotone voice.”
She squinted even more, but looked at my tie and then my shoes. When we had met in the laundry room, I’d been sick. I had worn rancid casual clothes, was unshaven, and probably had a nasal stream flowing to my upper lip. This evening, however, I was in my professional attire: long sleeved button down shirt, tastefully colorful tie, khaki slacks, and polished dress shoes. My hair even looked good, gelled back enough to have life but not so much that it seemed slick. When I dressed up, I was probably in the top 50% of my age bracket appearance-wise (I was in my mid-20s back then), but I had to work to get there.
This hot chick, on the other hand, was top 1% without even trying.
“I remember you,” she said, but it took a moment. She dropped her hands a little.
“I wasn’t at my best, that day we met,” I explained. “Anyway, you left some clothes… well, underwear… in the dryer, and I still have them.”
“Jesus Christ, that’s what this is about?” she said. “I thought you were a mugger or some pervert pretending to be a photographer.”
“No, I’m not a pervert photographer,” I laughed nervously. “I just have your panties…. I mean, undergarments. I’ve kept them since the other day.”
“The other day? That was a month ago,” she stated.
“Three weeks and four days,” I said, looking away. “I promise, I didn’t know I had them. I was sick, and didn’t fold my laundry for a few days. I just didn’t want you to think I was the kind of guy who would keep your underwear.”
She didn’t respond. I felt really uncomfortable, so I changed the subject. “Those guys who say they’re photographers, I was wondering, are they really photographers?”
“I don’t know,” the hot chick said. “I always tell them to fuck off.”
I was surprised at her language, but then I remembered how she had over-cursed in the laundry room. The good thing about the pervert photographer topic is that it was even more awkward than talking about women’s undergarments, so I went back.
“Let me go get your … items,” I said. “They’re okay to wear. I mean, they’re okay for YOU to wear. I promise, I didn’t wear them or do anything weird with them.”
“This is funny,” she said with just a trace of a smile. “All this shit’s going on in my life, and you’re worried about my panties.”
“Just stay right here,” I said quickly. “I’ll be right back with them.”
She studied my shoes and then made eye contact again. “No, I’ll walk over with you,” she said.
“Are you sure?” I said. “I mean, it’s okay if you do, but don’t get the wrong idea about me when you see all the photography equipment around my place.”
“You’re kidding,” she said, but not as a question. She knew I was kidding.
“Yes, I am,” I said, nodding. I turned around and walked back toward the covered parking in the direction of my apartment. I was surprised when the hot chick actually followed me.
The hot chick in a clingy black t-shirt was coming over to my apartment. And I hadn’t had a chance to clean it up yet.
To be continued! And I promise the hot chick finally gets a name!
The AARP has been trying to sign me up since I was 25, which makes sense because I’ve always been an old man at heart. I like to wear mismatched clothes. I’ve always complained about kids (even when I was one). My left turn signal is consistently on when I don’t intend it to be. I’m an old man except I don’t talk about my medication (because I don’t take any) and I don’t check the obituaries every day to make sure my name’s not in it.
So I stumbled upon this reading list that AARP has about novels everybody should read before the age of 50. This list shouldn’t surprise me. When an organization is as monolithic as AARP, somebody is going to devise a reading list. It’s not the reading list that interests me (though I checked it out). It’s the idea that there are books that everybody should read.
The AARP thinks Lonesome Dove is a novel everybody should read. I read Lonesome Dove (probably when I was 25). I enjoyed it. But not everybody should read Lonesome Dove. It’s long. It’s slow in a few places. It has a really bad sequel (maybe not “bad” but “mediocre” at best). Yeah, maybe a great novel shouldn’t be punished for a disappointing sequel, but I think it should be taken into consideration.
To Kill a Mockingbird was the top book on the list. To Kill a Mockingbird is at the top of many reading lists. If there were a list for novels that were listed on reading lists, To Kill a Mockingbird would be at the top of that list too.
The thing I appreciate most about To Kill a Mockingbird is that Harper Lee never wrote a sequel. She’s lucky (and maybe the world is lucky) that To Kill a Mockingbird wasn’t originally published in 2013. If it had, Harper Lee would have been coerced into writing two sequels really quickly and calling the whole thing The Boo Radley Trilogy. I don’t think that would have been included in the AARP Must Read Novels List.
Even though I like To Kill a Mockingbird, I’m not sure everybody should read it. That’s not a complaint about To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s just that there really is no book that everybody needs to read, except maybe The Bible (just kidding! kind of… not really… a little).
There’s also the idea that everybody should read these books by the time they’re 50. Oh yeah? And what happens if I don’t? Will AARP shun me? I’m pretty sure the AARP’s standard for membership is the ability to pay, not my age or the books I’ve read. I’ve read most books on the list, but the ones I haven’t read (I won’t mention them), I won’t read. They’re just not for me.
That may be closed-minded of me, but I’m old enough to be closed-minded, and I’ve read enough books that I didn’t want to read in my lifetime, and I don’t have to do it anymore, and if I don’t want to read a certain book, nobody is going to make me, even if it’s on a reading list.
See? I’m going to make a great old man.
Now I’m going to go tell some kids to get off my lawn!
The humor in my previous sentence is that the kids are actually on somebody else’s lawn, but I’m going to yell at them anyway.
Sharing an apartment laundry room dryer with a hot chick in a clingy t-shirt was uncharted territory for me. I didn’t know the etiquette. I figured it was polite for me to wait for the hot chick to get her clothes out first, but women in this complex were notorious for letting their clothes sit for hours after the dryer had finished, and I didn’t want to wait around like a doofus for my own clothes in a dryer cycle that I had paid for.
Within a few minutes of lying down on my couch in my own apartment, I reached a decision. The dryer cycle went 40 minutes. I would return to the laundry room in 45 minutes. That would give the hot chick in a clingy t-shirt fair opportunity to retrieve her clothes first. If she hadn’t, then that was her fault, and I couldn’t be blamed for sifting (in an emotionally detached manner) through her garments.
When I returned to the apartment laundry room 45 minutes later as planned, the dryer was still rolling, and a large mother with a couple kids coloring the floor with crayons was giving me the evil eye. I felt the dryer door, and it was warm. The hot chick must have put quarters in for a second run. I reluctantly opened the dryer door because I really didn’t want to sift through the hot chick’s clothes, especially in front of witnesses, but I had no choice.
I pulled out a couple items slowly. They were both mine. Relieved, I peeked my head in, and sure enough, all the clothes seemed to be mine. The hot chick had already retrieved her clothes.
As far as I knew, the awkward moment was over!
I pulled out all my hot clothes and dropped them into my basket. As I ambled away, the mother quickly stuffed her clothes in, ready to milk about 30 minutes of free dryer cycle courtesy of me and the hot chick. She didn’t say thank you, and I didn’t care. My head hurt, my nose was runny, and I tried to keep my coughs from infecting my clean clothes. All I cared about was getting back to my apartment and sleeping the rest of the day.
The next morning, I grabbed what I needed from the basket, ironed what was wrinkled, and went to work. The following day was a Saturday, so I left the laundry basket alone (I had clean casual clothes, alright?). It was Sunday when I decided to hang everything up, and that’s when I saw them.
They were just sitting at the bottom of my laundry basket, like the three tiniest jelly beans that manage to find their way to the bottom of a candy jar. There were three of them, one white, one black, and one red. The hot chick had accidentally left her underwear with my clothes.
I picked up the undergarments (delicately and with the utmost respect) with the intention of returning them to the laundry room. I would just put them on the dryer, and when the hot chick noticed that she was missing them, the female clothing would be there.
Except… she probably had noticed that three days ago. Aaaarrrgh! I threw the tiny shreds of clothing onto my couch in frustration. The hot chick probably thought I had kept her underwear on purpose. She probably thought I was some weirdo fantasizing with her underwear!
I couldn’t even return the undergarments to the laundry room now. The hot chick would have given up on them. And if I placed them back on top of the dryer, the underwear would likely end up in the hands of some other weirdo, one who would do the things that the hot chick probably thought I was doing with them now.
I was determined to return the hot chick’s clothes. It was a matter of pride. I couldn’t have her thinking I was the kind of guy who would intentionally keep her undergarments.
I’d have to keep an eye out for the hot chick. I didn’t know where she lived, what hours she worked, or when she usually did her laundry. The apartment complex was spread out over almost an entire block, with several laundry rooms and parking lots and even a couple swimming pools. The hot chick could be anywhere.
So for about three weeks I was on the look- out.
During that few weeks, some other stuff happened. Football season started, so I spent Saturdays and Sundays hanging out at sports bars or at friends’ houses/apartments. I went on one disastrous date (short version is that she was a friend of a co-worker, and since the co-worker’s friend read a lot of books the co-worker thought we’d get along, and it should have had potential because the woman was pale with long straight hair and big glasses, but I during a conversation I confused Hamlet with Macbeth, and after a cross-examination, the woman figured out that I was an intellectual/literary pretender). My best friend proposed to his girlfriend, and she said yes, so I was going to be a best man in a wedding in a different state.
The point is that the hot chick’s underwear wasn’t the top priority in my life, but I was still looking for the hot chick in a clingy t-shirt, just in case.
Eventually, I saw her again. And of course, it led to an awkward moment.
To be continued…
The great thing about ebooks is that I can buy them without going to the bookstore (that’s not so great for the bookstores, I guess). The problem (besides bookstores going out of business) is that not every book I want to read or reread has been made into an ebook yet. Even though millions of books and novels have been made available electronically, even more millions (pure speculation on my part) of older books haven’t.
Most popular modern books are available electronically (read a more thorough explanation here). The classics are already available (often for free). The classics are well-known, and there’s a demand for them (and their copyrights have expired). But what about older books that people have forgotten?
There are a lot of issues (most of which I don’t fully understand) behind digitizing an old forgotten book. If the novel has been completely forgotten, then there’s no demand, and turning it into an ebook would be a waste of time and effort. If the authors of forgotten books are still alive, then their publishing contracts will say nothing about ebooks (because they hadn’t been invented yet), and there’s the potential for a legal fight about who (author or publisher) gets how much of the digital profit. The possible legal cost might not be worth the profit that might or might not happen by making the novel an ebook.
It can get complicated. For whatever reasons, there are a bunch of books that I read years ago that I would love to see made available as ebooks.
DISCLAIMER: I buy books from Amazon Kindle and haven’t tried the other services (like Nook and something else). If the following novels are indeed available, please let me know.
The Darkness and the Dawn by Thomas B. Costain
A lot of Costain’s novels are available as ebooks, but not this one. It’s a fairly simple story (that might be why it hasn’t made it into ebook form yet) about a Roman slave during the time of Attila the Hun’s invasion. I read this as a teenager and a couple times as a young adult. It’s sanitized historical fiction by today’s standards, but I’d still love to read it again, and it’s difficult (not impossible) to find.
Bloodstone by Karl Edward Wagner
Besides Robert E. Howard’s Conan books, the Kane series is the best sword & sorcery of the 1960s and 1970s. If you don’t know what sword & sorcery is, think The Game of Thrones without all the soap opera crap. An anti-hero fighting monsters and sorcerers while seducing scantily clad women with no morals with lots of bloody sword battles in between. It takes a great writer to create a world and then kill almost everybody in it and still make the reader care what happens, but Karl Edward Wagner did that (for me anyway).
I had all the Kane books (including the short story anthologies) until about five years ago when I sold them. Ugh. I shouldn’t have done that.
Massage Parlor II by Jennifer Sills
My first literary porn. Before I could get my hands on Penthouse Forum, I somehow got a copy of Massage Parlor II. And I took it to school. And I passed it around. And it never got picked up by a teacher. This was the kind of book that kept me from getting picked on during my teenage years. I was the kind of kid that should have been picked on at school (yeah, I know that nobody SHOULD get picked on, but you know what I mean).
I was quiet and I read a lot. But when you bring books like Massage Parlor II to school (and can also talk about football), it negates other potentially damaging traits (like reading a lot and wearing glasses and occasionally participating in classroom discussions).
Cheesy historical novels like Arena and The King’s Cavalier published before 1960 (see above picture)
I lived near a used book store when I was a teen and bought a bunch of cheap paperbacks (that I wish I still had). Most of these were historical novels, usually about the Romans or Medieval times. These books are probably just as good as the cheesy historical novels that get published today, so it would be great to have them available. Authors like Samuel Shellabarger and Jay Scotland usually wrote historical page-turners, and I managed to keep a few of them, but I’d like to read more without having to deal with (sometimes shifty) booksellers (who send out books with missing pages or detached covers). Put these up for a few bucks as ebooks, and I’ve got a summer reading list.
Of course, this list isn’t complete. Every book lover has an old yellow-paged out-of-print favorite that isn’t available electronically yet. What old novel would you like made into an ebook?