I started telling this story on Twitter, but then I thought that was dumb.
Last night, The Captain was (as the kids say) “linesing” for a hockey game. This does not have anything to do with cocaine or the blue and red paint they use to paint the LINES on the hockey ice. It’s his first job. He’s a hockey official. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that one of his team-mates has a little brother who was playing that night, and that meant the team-mate was there watching the game.
Okay, technically, that’s not the point either, but if you stick with me, we might get to the point together. Ready? Okay, let’s go.
So team-mate has a Kindle. I watch team-mate as he farts around with the Kindle for a while, then I shove my earphones in my head and continue listening to the novel I’m …er… “reading”? Consuming. The novel I am consuming. I *could* have brought a print novel with me, but when you read in public at sporting events, people assume that means you have Nothing To Do and that means they chat you up all night.
Don’t get me wrong. I love chatting to some of you. Others, not so much. You know who you are (actually, you probably don’t, because I don’t enjoy chatting with you, so I don’t talk to you, so you don’t ever communicate with me, so there really wouldn’t be any way of knowing for sure that I don’t particularly want to. I suppose you could ASSUME that I don’t want to be around you if I’m not, but that’s a somewhat specious assumption, don’t you think? I mean, I work. I have kids who have busy schedules. Damnit, I’m BUSY. It’s not like I can just drop everything and hang out with you whenever you’ve a spare minute. GOD. Get a grip. You’re so UNREASONABLE sometimes.). After the game is over, I ask team-mate about his Kindle.
“It’s a new one,” he says. “The latest model.”
I say, “it’s pretty cool. Do you like it?”
He says, “Yeah.”
I say, “what do you have loaded on it?”
He stares blankly at me.
I say, “what are you reading right now?”
He says, “um. It has pictures on it.”
I assume he has not understood the question because I’ve somehow said something obfuscatory, and I take a look at the proffered screen. There is a picture of Emily Dickinson there.
“Ah!” I say, “One of my least favourite Victorian poets!”
“Um…” Team-mate says. He looks a bit scared now.
“On the screen. Of your Kindle.” (He looks down) “That’s Emily Dickinson. She’s full of herself and whiny. And quite dead of course. She wrote poetry that was almost insufferable. You’ll probably end up having to study it, although there are far better poets you could read.”
“Uh..” he says, glancing at me nervously.
“…right. Well. Is there a book you have uploaded to your Kindle that you find interesting?”
He says, “Not yet? But it’ll be kind of cool to not have to take so many books on the plane when we go on vacation?”
I say, “Yes, that would be convenient. I think Kindles are pretty cool, but we don’t have one yet.”
He says, “Oh.”
Then I could see the struggle in this young man’s face. He desperately wanted to back away slowly and/or to gaze intently at something else that wasn’t me. But he’d been trained very well to be very polite with his elders, and he couldn’t. He just…couldn’t. So I did him the honour and the privilege of backing away slowly *for* him, and struck up a conversation with the father of one of the goalies. The team-mate sighed audibly and wandered away.
I’ve done it again, you see. I’ve broken literature for some young man who otherwise might have grown up to be the world’s foremost scholar on anything but Emily Dickinson. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad.