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The Literary Girlfriend: The Meaning of “Sucks”

July 3, 2013
Cover scan of a Classics Comics book

Does Moby Dick suck, or do we just not “get it”? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The local library on Saturday morning was usually noisy with screaming kids running around and a homeless guy talking to himself, but it had quieted down once Danielle started acting up.  Danielle was a walking distraction (even when she wasn’t walking).  Her red t-shirt was too tight and showed curves that shirts weren’t supposed to show.  Her faded cut-off jeans went up too high.  When she fake coughed and sneezed and ate chips too loudly, it contradicted her angelic face.  I had avoided talking to her (for a lot of bad reasons), but she had just cornered me in the back of the biography shelves.

“So, are you gonna talk to me or what?” she asked, one hand holding a book, the other hand on a hip.

“Hi, Danielle,” I said, flustered again.  “I was going to, but I wasn’t sure if that was you or not.”

“Well, now you know.” She took a step closer.

“Your hair is different today,” I said, and it was true.  It looked wet and clumped around her face and neck.  “You don’t quite look like you.”

She brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes.  “I just said ‘fuck it’ this morning.”  Then a mom and her daughter walked by.  “Sorry,” Danielle muttered to them, but the mom just looked the other way.

“I like the look,” I said.  “I just wasn’t sure that was you.  I’m kind of surprised to see you here.”  Geez, I hoped she didn’t take that the wrong way.

“It’s your fault that I’m here,” Danielle said.  “I saw all those books in your apartment, and it reminded me that I used to like to read.  Until I started to hate it.”

I was going to ask her what made her hate reading, but instead she said, “Whatcha got?”

I showed her the Tom Clancy book (I forget which one it was… this was back in 1992).

“That’s big,” she said.

“It’s just military stuff,” I said.  Then Danielle saw the photo of Tom Clancy on the back cover.

“He looks like a dick,” she said.

“Every author looks like a dick when they pose for book covers,” I said.  “Even Anne Rice probably looks like a dick.”

“Who?” she asked.  Then I pointed to the novel Danielle was holding.

“A friend of mine said I’d like this.”  Danielle showed me her copy of Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.  “But I think it sucks.”

Danielle slid the novel onto the top of the biography section.     I wondered how long it would take for the librarians to find Interview with the Vampire in the G shelf of the biographies.  I was going to say something, but when she lifted her arm, her shirt shifted up and exposed her navel.  When a hot chick in a tight t-shirt exposes her navel, she can put a library book back wherever she wants.

“I’m done,” Danielle said.  “Are you ready to check out?  I’ll walk with you.”

“Sure,” I said as we left the nonfiction section.  I saw her bag of corn chips on the table.  “Did you want to get that?”

“Thanks,” she said.  I watched her walk from behind, half expecting a bit of her cheeks to hang from the cut-offs, but they didn’t go that high.  When Danielle got to the table, she poured the remaining chip pieces into her mouth.  Then she flicked the bag back to its original spot.  When she saw me staring at her, her eyes widened and she swallowed hard.

“I’m sorry, did you want some?” she asked.

“I thought you might want to throw that away.”  I pointed to the bag she’d left on the table.

“That’s what they’re here for,” Danielle said, eyeing the three librarians sitting and talking to each other at the checkout counter.

“They work hard,” I said, and then it registered that three librarians were just sitting there talking to each other.   “I’m sure they work hard most of the time.” We stood and stared at the librarians for a few more seconds while they talked.  “I’m sure at some point today they’ll work hard.  You still shouldn’t litter.”

“Okay, officer,” she said, and jogged back to throw the bag away.  I turned and watched her jog.  Most of the library watched her jog.  When she returned she asked, “Is my record clean, officer?”

“Yes, but I’ll be watching you.”  That was true because I liked watching her (hopefully that didn’t sound creepy).

Danielle brushed her arm against mine and set a slow pace as we continued to the checkout desk.

“So, how much of the vampire book did you read?” I asked.

“Enough to know it sucks.”

“When I was in college, a girlfriend broke up with me because of that book,” I said.

“Why?  Did you tell her it sucked?”

“I told her it was a woman’s book.”

“That’s why she broke up with you?”

“There were other issues, but that’s what started the argument that escalated to a breakup.” I knew it was a bad idea to talk about a previous girlfriend to a woman I was really attracted to, so I tried to think of a way to change the subject.

“Did you think the book sucked?” Danielle asked, doing my work for me.

“No.  I didn’t like it, but it didn’t suck.”

“That’s what ‘sucks’ means; you don’t like it.”

“No, ‘sucks’ means there’s nothing good about it at all.  The book can be good, but I don’t appreciate it.  That’s different from sucking.”

“No, if it sucks, you don’t like it.  It doesn’t matter what other people think.”

“Yes, it does matter.  ‘Sucking’ should be universal.  If everybody hates it, then it sucks.  If it has artistic merit, then it can’t suck.”

“No,” Danielle said.  “If I don’t like something, it sucks.  If you don’t like something, it sucks.”

“What if you think it sucks, and I don’t think it sucks?”

“Then we argue about whether or not it sucks.”

“Let’s ask the librarians here,” I said, nodding to the three women behind the counter.  I gave the closest one my library card.

Another librarian stamped an index card and slipped it into the Tom Clany book.  As she handed me the book, she said, “Young man, I’d think you’d do very well for yourself if you just agreed with this young lady, whatever it is you’re arguing about.”

“See?”  Danielle said.   “Interview with a Vampire sucks.”

“Wait a minute,” the librarian said.  “I didn’t know you were talking about Interview with the Vampire.  That’s one of my favorite books.”

“See?”  I said.  “How can Interview with the Vampire suck if it’s a librarian’s favorite book?”

“The librarian said you’re supposed to agree with me,” Danielle stage whispered, barely moving her lips.

I paused.  Danielle had just won the argument.  “I’m sorry,” I said to the librarian.  “Interview with the Vampire sucks.”

“That’s okay, young man.  Tom Clancy sucks even more.”

Danielle shrugged her shoulders.  “I wouldn’t know.”

As we walked out, Danielle hogged the sidewalk, taking the middle and brushing her arm against mine again.  The polite part of me wanted to yield ground to her and walk on the sidewalk, but I also liked the feel of her arm against mine.

“So… What are you doing today?” she asked.

“Reading this,” I said, “and watching football.”

“That sounds… fun.”

After a pause, I asked, “What are you doing?”

“No plans,” she said.

As soon as we reached the parking lot, she stepped in front of me and held out her hand.  “It was good to see you again.  I’m glad we agree about what sucks now.”  Then she gave me a firm quick handshake.

“It was great talking to you,” I said.  I tried to think of something else, but my mind was blank.  Our earlier silence might have been awkward, but I didn’t want the conversation to end.  I was afraid that Danielle would walk to her car, and I would forever be angry at myself for not being smooth.

But Danielle stood her ground, facing me and not moving.  She didn’t really look at me though.  She instead shifted her eyes from the parking lot to the library building to the trees.  If I were going to get to my car, I’d have to walk around her on the grass.  Kirk’s voice was in my head screaming, “She’s gift-wrapped herself for you.  What more do you want?”

I spoke slowly.  “I was wondering… would you… like to do something tonight… maybe dinner?”

“Yes,” Danielle said.  “That sounds like fun.  I’ll pick you up at 6:00.”

“Don’t you want my phone number?” I asked.

“I know where you live.”

As she turned to her car, she called out, “And wear something like you did that day you gave me my panties back.”  A couple people walking by did double-takes at that.  “I like a guy who dresses professional.”

“Okay,” I said, watching her walk away.  I probably shouldn’t have just stood there watching her, but I couldn’t help it.  I was frozen by the moment, processing what had just happened.  I was going to have dinner with the hot chick in a clingy t-shirt.

That is, if she decided to show up.


To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: Origin Story.

And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.

From → Uncategorized

  1. Danielle sounds like a real bimbo.

    • Hey! That’s (maybe) my ex (maybe) literary (maybe) girlfriend (maybe) that you’re talking about.

      • She did have a unique if unilateral semantic interpretation of “it sucks.” And if she uses it this way so might others.

    • I’m sorry, friends, but I have to agree. Bimbo. Granted, I’m not a hot chick, nor am I attracted to hot chicks, so I guess I might not know or understand the standards of conduct, but I still think bimbo.

  2. unfetteredbs permalink

    So that’s why books get crammed out of place? Hot chicks showing their navels? Oy!

    • A lot of life’s problems are caused by hot chicks showing their navels. I’m not saying they shouldn’t do it; I’m just saying it causes problems sometimes.

  3. A conversation between a man and woman involving the word “sucks” that did not take the very obvious turn? I am suitably I’m suitably impressed especially since I could not do that myself. And moved to think perhaps she is not such a bimbo. Not the sharpest tool in the shed but maybe there is hope for her yet.

  4. Finally, a date! I have been waiting for this moment for far too long. I won’t pretend that I’m expecting this story to end a certain way…If this isn’t the ultimate love story, please crush my hopes now before I get too involved.

  5. Fascinating account. I’m very curious to see where it leads. Of course, I would think a vampire book would suck by definition. At least the vampires themselves suck.

  6. Correct me if I’m wrong, bit don’t guys usually pick girls up?

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