The impossible has happened: I’ve joined a book club. I’ve always been of the firm and sensible opinion that Clubs = EW!, but when someone in my giant apartment complex sent out an email asking if anyone would be interested in starting a book group, I decided to ignore my sophisticated knee-jerk reaction (HA! HA! HA! FIDDLE WHILE ROME BURNS, YOU MIDDLE-CLASS FOOLS! DON’T YOU MEAN YOUR KINDLE GROUP, HA HA HEE HAW HOOOO) and instead do the grown-up thing: I made a Pros and Cons list.
Reasons not to join Book Club:
- We’ll have to discuss books. I hate discussing books. I’m terrible at it. I can give you a decent description of the cover—”The cover depicts a middle-aged woman enjoying some fruit”—but that’s about it. Themes, metaphor, symbolism, I’m rubbish at the lot. Especially symbolism. I’m symbolism-blind. Show me a giant mythological bird emerging from a heap of feathery ashes and I’ll say, “Gosh, that owl’s bum must be hot!” In part, this is because I am dim. In another part, this is because symbolism is stupid. True story: I once heard a Very Famous Author scream at a Very Earnest Student because the student wanted to know why the kitchen cupboards in the VFA’s story were yellow. “They’re yellow because they’re yellow!!!” the VFA bellowed. This has become my standard response in all discussions concerning symbolism—“They’re yellow because they’re yellow!!!” I bellow—and I fear that such a remark at Book Club will be upsetting to all present.
- We’ll have to discuss not-books. We’ll have to discuss food coloring, curtain whatsits, Mark Bloody Bittman, toddlers, plants, and whatever creepily smooth rectangle Apple has released that minute. I am rubbish at all these conversations. I’m very good at the What Kinds Of Strange Noises Can You Make With Your Mouth? conversation—you should hear my Fshhhhheshsh!—but the only other people who seem to enjoy this conversation are my boyfriend’s ten-year-old nephew and my cats. (Tracey! You are wrong about the types of things that cats are!)
- The books will be awful. I’ll have to read Wally Lamb. I’ll have to read a touching story about a woman who moves back home to Ballsack, Iowa, after her father carks it in a grain elevator incident. I’ll have to read a touching story about a man who loses his right arm to wasps but learns to love again (but not wasps, obv). I’ll have to read a touching story about a businessman who decapitates a vagrant.
- When it’s my turn to host Book Club, people will find out I have three cats. Any social progress I have made in the giant apartment complex will be immediately undone. Also, one of the cats is fat and known to be ruthless in her pursuit of pastries. What if this cat blinds one of my guests? Awk.
- What if I have to do a poo at Book Club? Will I be able to do this in a stranger’s home? Or can I excuse myself—“I think I left the gas on!” (metaphor?)—go home, toilet myself, and then return without raising suspicion?
- What if I have to bake a pie? What if someone asks me to bring a rice pilaf? I hate cooking. Hate it. Also, my eating disorder (we’ll call it fusspotexia) means there are only three items on my Foods I Can Eat list—rolled oats, Eggo Drizzlers, and bananas—and these delicious foods are seldom served at social gatherings (except at my house, because I know how to party). When I receive an invitation to a potluck dinner, I respond, “Thank you for inviting me to your upcoming potluck dinner. I will not be bringing any food to your potluck dinner, but I also will not be eating any of the food at your potluck dinner, so I believe we will be even vis-à-vis food. See you soon, my friend!” All in all, it is better if I stay inside my home.
Reasons to join Book Club:
- Maybe someone will finally be able to tell me, once and for all, if it’s true that the security guard sometimes does a wee in the recycling room.
- Might make a friend? I’ve recently noticed that many of my dearest friends live very far away (coincidence?). Also, I’ve started treating my cats like my dearest friends. In some ways this is not so strange—many people talk to their pets about the day’s events, no?—but in some other ways this is very strange indeed. For example, it is possibly very strange to tell people that one of your cats has signed up for a night class on How To Use Human Cutlery. Long story short: I could probably use a few new pals, especially now that The Colonel will be out on Wednesday evenings.
So I came up with more Cons than Pros, but that final Pro is a pretty big deal: even oat-eating, fur-covered dingbats need a few chums nearby. And thus I find myself responding SURE, I GUESS to Book Club. I will turn up empty-handed, wearing a Nil By Mouth sticker, and ready to offer such bon mots as, “Well, um, I quite liked it.” I will leave in the middle for about ten minutes and return with a relieved smile. “Gas crisis averted!” I will say (metaphor?). And I will try not to make strange noises with my mouth. I expect it will all be quite marvelous.