Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Old Nick, tucked in a corner with a glass of wine.

Caucasian woman, 30s, with burgundy red hair, wearing her coat indoors, perhaps to fight the chill of the swinging door to the patio out back or the washroom up front. Laughing. Reading. More laughing. Sincere, caught off guard, I-know-this-only-too-well, heart swell, teetering, tittering, snickering, gut wrenching...laughter.

They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books, David Rose (Scribner)

About page 74:

Baste me in butter and call me Slappy. No, really.
M, 35. Box no. 3175
The bus sits idling in the loop out front of the university. The wind is coming hard off the escarpment, the snow whirling up in little cyclones across the tarmac. The driver groans each time a student run towards him, bracing himself, the doors emitting a high pitch whistle with each open-and-close.

She bounds up the stairs, apple-cheeked, unraveling the scarf from around her neck. She surveys the available seats, slumping beside a girl she recognizes from Astronomy class. They don't speak; it's not like that. There are hundreds of first year students in that lecture. She thinks the girl is in her Psychology class too. She unzips her coat, letting off a big sigh. Catching some spittle on the back of her throat, she gets lost in a fit of dry coughs. She pulls off her hat, holding it to her mouth and gags against the yarn. Recovering, she looks at the girl next to her, smiling weakly.


As the bus leaves the loop, the girl can feel the thigh next to hers, warm, settling in for the ride. Looking out the window, the girl hugs her backpack close to her chest, sinking into her seat. She considers the worn envelope in the front pocket, the letter inside it, it's edges frayed, unable to stand another reading. She wonders, Is this my chance?


Anonymous said...

oh say, what's in the letter?


Julie Wilson said...

That's half the fun--you get to write it! :)

Kirsten said...

That was me, of course. Single chick, reading singles ads. I could have brought The Kite Runner or other literary masterpiece, but recently I’ve begun to mistrust plots. Plots, with all their words and bulk, leave too much room for deception and misdirection. Personal ads are plots stripped bare, the place where poetry meets commodity – they are the haiku of advertising, charged with revealing in the mind of the reader the essence of the writer.

Plots are too much like dates, with come-hither covers, awkward introductions, getting-to-know-you gambits, inevitable twists and probable turns and then, at the end, you discover the object of your affection isn’t quite what you thought and you let her down, gently of course, and where, on the bookshelf of your mind, she will occupy space and gather dust and occasionally entice you close again. (Unless, instead of buying, you borrow from the library, in which case you have a two weeks of intensity and distraction until, suddenly, it’s over and she’s gone, back to where she came from - until she’s off again with another. Which is where you next see her and, despite trying to wrench your mind away from the thought, you still notice that other person looks damned happy).

It seems only fair that if you’re reporting on my activities as a single girl, with a single glass of wine, reading singles ads (alone), you should at least have published my phone number/email. Or introduced yourself, and piqued my interest with a clever line, a winsome smile and an offer to buy me drink….

(love your blog, your writing and your imagination – and extra points for Creative Use of Bartender to Obtain Book Title and Publisher’s Information)

Julie Wilson said...

In no particular order:

1. Damn, this blog has the savviest readers! Nice post!
2. I have carted from one move to the next a tiny slip of Chinese fortune that reads, "Your winsome smile is all you need." So, kudos, on your use of "winsome smile."
3. You don't know where I live, do you? ;)
4. I have strict Rules of Engagement. I will never break the bubble on a person's private reading enjoyment in a public place. (I don't want to look creepy, you see. No, really.)
5. The Bartender worked alone! I swear...
6. In hindsight, I don't think I could have picked a more bloody salacious entry from the book. And that makes me laugh and laugh and laugh!
7. Thanks for being such a good sport. :D

ms peacock said...

i remember during a two month sojourn in europe a few years ago *aching* for something to read, anything in english.

feeling like some solo time, i left a weekend trip early to return to my little room in brno, cz; sitting alone on that train, i found in a seat-pocket, right in front of me, new editions of the LRB and the NYRB - the most amazing luck! in the back of that LRB, i discovered an ad posted by a man that would have been perfect for my mother, and when i returned to my little room, i transcribed it for her in an email. if they had met, we would have had the most amazing story to tell, all of us.

thanks for this post. and i love that your reader read you!

Julie Wilson said...

Ohhh...that's so nice. On so many levels, thanks for posting that.

OH! I love stories...hah! Very cool.