I know people still like to read because I see their huddled masses in the bookstores. My charmer and I have been going to Books-A-Million, which is big in the south. No doubt, it's a Christian bookstore with it’s rather large section devoted to religion, but aside from that, it could easily pass for Waldens or Barnes and Noble. We go even if we are not buying anything. Just hanging around with like-minded people is soothing. The reason I'm mentioning this is because it seems outside of a bookstore or the blogging community, I am always running into people who don’t read anything other than computer screens or magazines. Whenever I'm on my break at work or just lounging somewhere in public, this scene always happens: I pull out my latest read, kick back, and within the first few paragraphs...
"What are you reading?"
"What's it about?"
"Various pieces he wrote for newspapers and magazines over the years."
"Is it any good?"
"Yeah, he was known to write a good one now and then."
"I've never heard of him."
Then my favorite part always occurs. The individual sits down and begins conversing with me about Scarlet Johanson's ample assets or anything else that pops in his brain. I have that awkward moment where I act like I'm still reading while I casually glance at him hoping he will go away. But it never works, so I surrender and close the book. I watch as he rambles on, and I find myself thinking about how people will talk about gaming, movies, politics, weather, gossip, sports, cars, etc., but never once say, "No, I didn't watch CSI last night because I was in the middle of a great James Patterson novel," or, "No, I don't need to see the movie because I've already read the book and the movie is never as good." I know there are people who enjoy Oprah’s book club but where...
Now how ironic is this! As I'm writing my blog on the laptop, a young man, who could literally have stepped out of Huckleberry Finn, walks up to me. A piece of straw hanging from his mouth is the only missing accessory. My charmer and I are at the park, and she's feeding ducks at pond's edge. By-line: Ernest Hemingway is sitting on the bench next to me.
"You're reading Hemingway?" he asks.
I look around like, how's it possible that this is happening again in the same day. I wanna yell for help.
"I love The Old Man and the Sea. He knew how to use words. His distinctive style gets right to the point. I hate reading books where it takes twenty pages to get to the point. Ya know what I mean?"
“I’ve read that Hemingway used to say, ‘Il faut d'abord durer’. He used to inscribe that in the books he signed for friends. I am probably saying it wrong but it translates to ‘First, one must last’.”
His wife, I'm guessing, yells that it’s time to eat. She’s roasting hotdogs on a nearby grill.
"Good talking to ya. Enjoy the book."
My charmer finishes feeding the ducks and walks back toward me, "I see you found a friend."
"Yes," I say, one more time.
I look in the direction of the young couple who wave to us and I wave back, thinking, there is hope.