Thank You, Stephen King!
A few weeks ago, a friend of my wife came over unannounced and uninvited with her family. Any visitors we get are because of my wife. I don’t have friends, so nobody comes over to see me. My wife has lots of friends, and sometimes we end up entertaining families of people whom I barely know. Most of the time I don’t mind, but I don’t like it when the visitors are unannounced and uninvited.
In this case, the family had a teenage son who, according to his parents, is addicted to video games and hates to read. He’s capable of reading, my wife’s friend said, but he won’t do it unless it’s a school assignment.
“At least he completes his school assignments,” I said to my wife’s friend.
“Yeah,” the son said to his mom, but she gave him a dirty look.
I could sympathize with the kid because he reminded me of a bunch of friends I had in high school (a time in my life when I actually had friends).
My high school friends weren’t functionally illiterate. They were dysfunctionally literate. They knew how to read but chose not to. If they were going to read, it would be a smut book like Massage Parlor by Jennifer Sills or a parody book like Bored of the Rings. If my high school friends had had internet and cell phones and they wouldn’t have read even those books. With the internet, teenage boys don’t need smut books anymore.
Anyway, my friends didn’t understand why I read real books. Back then, I read the classics. I read best-selling novels. My friends, they didn’t get it. From their point(s)-of-view, they had better things to do, like hang out, play video games, drink, and smoke, and chase girls. To them, I was wasting my time reading because it kept me from doing all those other things that were fun to them.
“Dude, why do you waste so much time reading books?” they’d ask me.
I’m not sure any of my friends used the word “dude,” but it’s in my memory.
One day in my junior year of high school, I got tired of being razzed for reading.
“Here,” I said. “Try this.” I handed one of my friends a beat up copy of Different Seasons by Stephen King.
“This is long,” my friend said.
“It’s a bunch of short stories,” I explained. I started him with the second story, “The Body,” which later became the movie Stand by Me.
“This is long too,” my friend said, flipping through the pages.
“Just read a few pages and see if you like it.”
Once I got them started, all my friends liked Different Seasons. Even though it had mature content, it was the first book that my friends read that wasn’t considered dirty. One friend exclaimed that reading “The Body” was like watching a movie in his mind. At least for one book, he understood why I read so much.
Another friend read a bunch of Stephen Kings like The Shining, and The Stand. He could even tell a good Stephen King book from a mediocre one. He thought that Christine sucked.
In college, I had a roommate who didn’t like to read. You would think college would be filled with guys who like to read, but I guess the stereotypes in Animal House were correct after all. My roommate got drunk a lot and chased women (most of whom were drunk). Even my drunk roommate liked Different Seasons when he read it. He still preferred getting drunk, but at least he understood why I read a lot.
Anyway, I gave my wife’s friend’s kid my copy of Different Seasons and told him to start reading “The Body.” He didn’t have anything else to do. His parents weren’t letting him use his phone, and he wasn’t interested in the football game on tv, so he was captively screwed, and he began reading the book. Maybe he was just being polite. If that was the case, I was impressed that he was at least pretending.
When the family left (and I was glad because my wife’s friend was kind of annoying), I told the kid he could keep the book, and he thanked me. Again, maybe he was just being polite.
I’d like to say that this kid finished Different Seasons and that now he reads a bunch of books on his own. Maybe he does, but I’ll probably never know.
My wife’s friend complained to her today that Different Seasons had a bunch of stuff that was inappropriate for a kid her son’s age. She was disturbed that I’d given her son that book without her permission. She was upset about it.
“His video games are probably worse than anything in that book,” I told my wife. “Plus, he has cable and the internet.”
“That’s what I said,” my wife exclaimed. “And now she’s mad at me too.”
It looks like I just busted up one of my wife’s friendships, with the help of Stephen King. I didn’t like my wife’s friend anyway. And I didn’t like her unannounced, uninvited visits. Now I don’t have to worry about my wife’s friend doing that again. And for that, thank you Stephen King.
I don’t have many friends, but maybe Stephen King can be my friend some day.
What book got you (or somebody you know) to start reading? What author would you like to thank, and why? What author do you think would be a cool friend to have?
Stephen King has written a lot of great stories, but I don’t think he’s written anything like my ebook! If you liked my story about Stephen King, you’ll probably enjoy…