I first met Ross to get writing advice. I was and will always be in desperate need of this. When we met I also happened to be carrying a book. This was rather serendipitous because he then proceeded to give me the advice that I already mentioned – ALWAYS BE READING. Having a book on hand might have lent me a little writer-cred, but probably not.
Immediately after I met with Ross I went to go investigate a new apartment. I sifted through a lot of ads on Craigslist and if you’ve never had the pleasure of trolling the ‘rooms to share’ section, there are some dubious listings floating around. For example:
if you are a cute open-minded female, either a student or a woman up to mid 30′s,
who is looking to save money and live in a great place with a great guy, then i may have just the deal for you. you can live rent-free and be my room-mate with benefits.
(THIS IS AN ACTUAL AD)
This is not the apartment I was hoping to get, but this was a real ad. This scholar was very particular about his room-mate, but not so particular about his use of grammar.
Creepy internet ads aside, I went to look at an apartment that I could rent for actual money on Roncesvalles. I knocked on the door, and the first thing that my potential roomie noticed was that I was carrying a book. In an effort to make small chat, he asked what book I was reading. At the time I was reading and carrying Chuck Klosterman’s “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.” He responded, “That’s one of my favourite books.” Suffice to say I got the apartment. Whether it was the book or the Nik, who’s to say, but I’m willing to bet I wouldn’t have won the apartment contest had I been carrying Twilight or Mein Kampf. Neither of these books are cool. Only one is currently banned unfortunately.
Now I will say this, I was not parading my book around like an American flag on the fourth of July, it was neatly tucked in my pocket title facing in. People are curious and nosey, that’s something you can set your watch too.
Finally, at my first Second City improv class the same book was along for the ride. (In case you’re wondering, I am not the slowest reader in the GTA. These three instances occurred over the course of four days.) I’ve never done any improvisation before in my life, so the class was something very new to me.
It certainly takes a minor leap of faith to get over yourself enough to ask a woman in an imaginary igloo how I should season my whale blubber. She told me sage was the spice of choice. I doubt I will ever get a chance to put this advice in to practice.
At the end of the class the teacher took note of my book, and although he confused it for another better book, we ended up chatting briefly. I didn’t say anything revolutionary or inspirational, but without that book I can’t say that I would have had anything to spark a conversation.
I’m not saying that out of these three instances carrying a book made me appear brilliant, but I did get a cheap apartment in a great neighborhood. Reading in the public theatre has had a few pleasant side effects on my life, but judge for yourself.
What do I make of it all?
Humanity can’t help but make assumptions about the people who we happen to sit down beside on the streetcar. When we see that person with a book, that’s just ammunition to load into the assumption cannon.
When I see people reading on the subway I can’t help but assume that these people put such a premium on their free time that they could not possibly bear to waste even a moment on idleness. I then also assume that this person is probably smart.
If I happen to see that they’re reading a particularly terrible book, such as anything to do with vampires, I will place them in one of three categories:
What sort of Twilight reader are you?
1. They are a seventeen year old girl, either in body or mind, that loves teen angst literature that flirts with sexual metaphors – this is probably the least flattering category.
2. They are reading this book to get in touch with the collective consciousness that they have become separated from. This pop culture ignorance is due in large part to principle that they waste no time on distractions like film, television or breakfast. Instead they busily bury their head in the classics, except for on this occasion – this is the most flattering category that I usually save for attractive well dressed women.
3. They have nothing better to do with their time on the subway, and they want to understand the odd pop culture reference on last weeks episode of Saturday Night Live – this is the middle ground where I place most people over the age of twenty-one who are not wearing Ugg boots(I actually had to google ‘Ugg’ to make sure I spelt it right).
Carrying a book around might not always work for you, but it has for me in 2012. There are a lot of things you could do worse with carrying around, like The Sun.