Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Cheapest Entertainment Around

Barnes and Noble is my modern day sanctuary. I go there to lose myself in stacks of books and scores of magazines, platters of scones and cups of lattes. It is a haven where I settle in at a table, one large enough for me to spread out my loot, and in a corner if I'm lucky. I know it's not a library, so I can't always get the quiet I wish for, but it's a place I go where I don't like to be interrupted. If I'm not there to meet you for coffee and chit-chat, I typically don't like the chit-chat part.

Ed doesn't understand this, despite the fact that I've told him a bazillion times. I'm really not interested and most likely never will be, in
meteors, robots, cars or the latest sailboat model. If you've ever delved into all things Ed, you might get a better understanding about his likes, my likes and how they are typically worlds apart.

So when I am in my happy place at ye olde bookstore, please don't bother me. My routine is often the same; first I catch up on all the gossip magazines, then I hit all the fashion magazines, then I take a look at Oprah, Martha Stewart Living and Vanity Fair. Those are the only three magazines I typically buy, because they have lengthy articles or things I want to save for later.

If the cover of Time or Newsweek or US News and World Report has something interesting, I might pick it up. Sometimes I'll read Mother Earth News, Consumer Reports or The Robb Report to see what I'd be doing if I were a millionaire.

Then I peruse the craft magazines; beading, knitting, scrapbooking and dollmaking. I'm always looking for something new to get into. And I always, always grab a stack of travel magazines; Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Budget Travel and my favorite, Coastal Living. I need to know which coast my airy, seaside cottage is going to be on.

I also read Women's Health, Shape, Prevention and Fitness to see what I could look like if I were to actually stick to the three diets a week I start. Then when I ultimately decide all that spinning and lifting and jogging and stretching just to get fit is too much work, I lose myself in the pages of Southern Living, Gourmet, Cooking Light, Cook's Illustrated, La Cucina Italiana and oh my God, Donna Hay.

I could spend hours in a bookstore, and have. But when those hours are shared with Ed, it means there's a pretty good chance I'll be hearing the latest from Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, New Scientist, 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, Wired, Radio Controlled Hobbies, RC Modeler, PC Magazine, Boater's World, Wooden Sailboats, Yacht Trader and the like. Occassionally, he'll pick up an astromony magazine or one about how to live a "greener" life. As if I'm going to stop using styrofoam.

And even though I have a look on my face that would deter any evildoer out there, he has no fear. He continues to READ TO ME!! I don't want to hear from anything that has the word science in the title and I certainly don't care about the leaps and strides they are making in the remote control world. If I wanted to hear about anything in those magazines, I would have chosen those magazines. And oh, look! I didn't. The pièce de résistance? When he decides he's read something I absolutely must hear and it winds up being some obscure passage from a Noam Chomsky book. People who like Noam Chomsky don't even understand Noam Chomsky.

I suppose I should be happy that I have a boyfriend who doesn't mind coming to the bookstore with me and in return doesn't expect me to accompany him to the hobby shop. But how do I keep him from telling me what's happening on Mars or relaying the story about the guy with one arm who not only carved a sailboat out of tree trunk but won a regatta in it?

Please don't tell me to go to the library. They don't have near the selection and it's highly likely that I'll get stuck sitting next to some fifth grader who is laughing too loudly as he reads aloud to his friend from an old issue of MAD magazine.

And as far as I'm aware, they don't have lattes at the library.

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Proud To Be A Liberal American
I Don’t Think This Is What The Gideons Had In Mind
Ten Reasons Today
The Big Five Oh!


Anonymous said...

AS I am someone that has been with you in a Barnes & Noble; I can voucher that you are not very social when you are having a coffee and reading those trashy magazines.
I recall leaving you in the cafe, as I looked for new books. If I reproached you, I would get a look that would make most men run from you crying. I would just ignore the look and show you the books I was going to buy.

Stace said...

Well, one of the things about having children is that you learn, to save your sanity, the fine art of pretending to listen and pay attention to blather while you are actually somewhere far, far away.

This skill is, most helpfully, transferrable to others who may be older, but no less full of blather than a young kid who's been talking at you for 2 straight hours.

My advice -- pretend Ed is a three-year-old. For his future ego and emotional health, you have no choice but to listen to his rambles -- you don't want to screw him up for life, since there's plenty of opportunities for that elsewhere. So, you have to listen to what he says.

Or do you?

No, you actually don't. All you have to do is give him a glance or a nod now and again. Every so often say to him, "Is that right?" or "Really!" or "That's great!" Context doesn't much matter. Repeat nodding and glancing and randomly exclaiming meaninglessly, while actually reading something far more interesting.

Eventually he will wander off to play somewhere else. He'll be full of confidence and swagger, what with you proving him to be such a fine speaker. And you will remain sane, and have learned much about the fine art of beading at the same time.

What more can you ask? The system does require much practice, unfortunately.

Or, rather than devote all that time and effort to a skill you might find limited use for, you could just give Ed a big whack on his arm or other available body part -- since he is clearly yanking your chain. ;-)

Gil said...

Poor old Ed! Men need to be humored once in a while I bet he has heard plenty of stories from you. I know from experience as I've been listening to Anne telling me technical things about what she is teaching for years.

The last time I tried to read something in a B & N a group of ladies came in and started planning some charity event right next to me.

Anonymous said...

...loved Stace's suggestion...been telling you that for years and it works for sure...he'll be okay and you'll be okay...mission

Hedon said...


Suddenly I'm realizing I get lots of "Oh?" and "Really!" when I'm telling Stace about what I just read online...