Books I’ve read in their entirety, stacked cover to cover from the floor, wouldn’t reach my shiny belt buckle on even a bad, slouchey day. This doesn’t speak well of my lliterary background, does it? An organized pile of music manuscripts I’ve managed to prop in front of my eager piano eyes, however, would reach well beyond all the belts of my ancestors (and mine) fused end to end …. This is the reality of my non-Harry Potter, never-Lord of the Rings Quadrilogoyeaet existence. Reading words isn’t my thing. Never was. Speaking words?, …. well, that is more my companion lane.
I admire readers. Those who smoogle, in my book, on as much a regular schedule as breathing, have earned my respect. Bookstores are stocked with these creatures of the earth … quiet page flippers, humming affirmations to themselves while looking over their glasses wondering who’s watching them (ps, it’s me). Quick readers capturing charming chapters, or perhaps seeing sensational sentences, drawing them into enough of a fantastical frenzy to urge them forward toward possible purchasing. My fascination of the literary sphere isn’t only with them, but also the bubbling space around them filled with so much more than I’d ever believe we’d possibly need to know in one lifetime.
There’s also an added bonus of the self-help section. I’m always looking for a book to read … that will help me understand how to read a book … leading to a full understanding of the book … upon finishing reading of the book. There never is such a book resting on a shelf before me. I’d pen this best-selling short, descriptive, how-to tome if I actually knew the art of beginning-to-end readery. As it stands, “Mastering the Art of Sleeping during English Lit. in School” is a title best emblazoned in fuchsia on the cover of my book.
Reading people who smoogle is more my style. Doesn’t necessarily have to be in large, square rooms divided up into bookish cliques where history buffs buff romance romantics. I have ogled them at the beach, restaurants, medical facilities, churches, … really anywhere a set of eyes can look upon words sixteen inches away. Their faces speak when words can’t. When I see eyebrows raise at the slightest hint of excitement coming off the page and squinch at apparent terror striking at their soul, this is litellation for me. There’s an obligatory, unconscious chin rub at times accompanied by the slight nod as if to say, “Why yes, fine writer, that is well said.”. Then we have ear-nubbers. Special skill readers, ENs must hold open a stubborn book with one hand wilst, for no apparently good reason, reach back to nub-tug their ear. I see this more often than I care to mention – but I must. There is no scratch. No itch, No burn. In my very limited knowledge, I don’t believe hemorrhoids can exist on an earlobe, so why do this? Please, why?
Slow page turners are, to me, fascinating to follow. I love the process. I can start – and almost finish a Pepsi – in the time it takes them to finish reading page 34 and then start reading page 35 … an eternity away on the flip side. It is a slooooow process. I can spot one of this special breed a long way away by a finger. Not any of mine, though. Spying one of theirs carefully winding, word by word, down through the page is the key to their madness. Three lines away from the bottom, by my estimate, it begins. There’s a slow roll of the other hand toward the top of the page, slowly grasping the corner slightly above 34 being careful to not disturb the single finger action going on below. The leisurely buggler literally folds back the page as if it’s a Parisian 200 thread count silk bed linen – all the while still maintaining full head-on interest in the dialogue below. Methodically the page moves right to left … as the magic begins. I know it. I see it. The head starts to move in the same direction. UH OH!!
Certainly not a word missed? A phrase misunderstood? The process slows even more. The universal glue of page turning starts to set. Page Process Paralysis. My Pepsi half done by now, I see the dilemma as clear as the bottom of my glass. What happens next defies my logic. The process reverses. I observe the page corner heading back to a position exited a dinosaur’s lifetime ago. “What are you doing there?”, I ask silently in their direction. I want, in the kindest of ways, to go over and ask, but I fear prickly things being thrown at me from the indecisive page flicker.
In a sudden’s pace, as I mull over once again a smoogler’s dilemma and the bottom of page 34 is still being ingested visually, an event horizon is breached. I see a slight impatience arise. An anticipatory head tiltish peek around the corner looking into the new, upper coming attractions. The birth of page is about to happen by the crowning of 35’s top half… and … there it is: The final pat of approval, calm rub down, and massage of fresh, virgin words never before seen….and my Pepsi needs a refill.
These could be reasons why I’m not much of a smoogler. If intimacy is required in my life, I don’t want to do it with three hundred fifty-six pages, alone, in a library or elsewhere while some guy, drinking a Pepsi, watches me. Besides, I may not have a belt on to protect myself.
Books never, ever appealed to me. In first, second, or third person experiences with books, I was – and quite possibly still am – as attracted to them as black licorice on t-bone steak. I read, you read, they read … not much difference. Show me a short story or blog, I’m all over it. A Facebook article outlining binge-eating candy corn? On it. A headline leading into a story about possible marshmallow mountains in Brazil? Let’s go. Exciting blogs about writing titillating blogs? Absolutely. By contrast, ……. Here’s a free book a…bou..t…” — ” ….ah, wait, Ron Popeil has a new sliver-dicer on t.v. for my dirt pile in the back yard … only $19.95 …I’ll get back to you on that book-thing.
As much as smoogling appears to be an isolated activity, I believe it to be more a habit forming social problem … only because I can’t participate in it. I’m a outlier hanging out in rejected alleys. The sullen shadows where I am flicking ashes, not pages, of sarcastic regret into the streets of book clubs everywhere. Ah, to be enlightened by the views of others over the sipping of tea, dark chocolate biscotti munching, and merriment. To be told I am a Gryffindor – with no possible clue as to the meaning – and have no one … NO supporting shoulder to cry on during a Monday evening book club where someone named JoEllen can quell my Potterious query. It is a conspiracy against us non-smooglers, to be sure.
Before closing, I do have to own up to one small lie. I DID read a book this past summer. It was horrible. I said to myself, “Let’s do this …”. So, I did it. Out of respect to the author, I won’t mention either his name or the title. Loosely based on his life, it followed a love story back-and-forth between crazy and crazier. If there were ways to describe body parts and pieces using third grade language mash-ups, he did it. Drop in a few nature bits, hotel rooms, psycho episodes, potted plants, markers, tattoos, and, of course deeply thoughtful, introspective moments of spiritual zen … and you get my point. The guy is a published author – no intention to harm his character or success, but his book wasn’t a smoogler’s dream. At least not mine, anyway.
Why smoogle, the word? Honestly, don’t know. The urban dictionary defines it as a word meaning, “a word that is said to reduce the awkwardness of an awkward silence.” I didn’t know that until googling it just now. Hmmm. Seems a bit appropriate, don’t ya think? I like when coincidence, i.e. fate, meets up with me. Hopefully, writing about my lack of reading reduced the awkward silence in your day.
I’ll see you at chapter’s end – that’s my style no matter the means. I could be peeking around the corner watching you nub-tug, or be in the self-help section glazing over hundreds of “How to Love Smooglers” books. You’ll know I’m there ’cause I’ll speak. That’s more my companion lane … and you’re my faithful reader.
Smoogle on, my friend.