From Our Readers
October 09, 2012 2:00 am

Because I’ve finally gotten serious about my writing (whatever that means), yesterday I asked some writer friends if they had any pointers.  Their advice?  Read more.

Seems counterintuitive, no?

But I’m nothing if not industrious, so this morning I traipse over to Barnes & Noble to see what I can unearth (the fact that I purchase yet another Jen Lancaster book is completely beside the point–it’s all in the name of research, I tell you!).  After I discover approximately 4,782 tomes that I can’t live without, I settle on just 4 (just 4!) and head over to the café to read.

As I look for a place to sit, preferably a comfy chair with its back against a wall since I never like to have my back exposed–in a Godfather-inspired, leave-the-gun-take-the-cannoli kind of way–I notice a man seated at the counter who is obviously engrossed in some highbrow literary project, as evidenced by his Mac laptop, furrowed brow, and what appears to be his third cup of coffee.  Ah yes, a fellow writer, consumed by the urge to extemporize on the meaning of vital things like life and the questionable judgment of Lindsay Lohan.  

We will date.

I begin wondering just how to make the opening move.  Do I sit next to him and casually read my book, inviting him to comment on my erudite choices in literature?  (Sorry, Jenny L, you and your foot-noted hilarity must stay hidden in the depths of my bag, lest you interfere with destiny.)  Or do I sit at a table a little farther removed so as not to seem brash (read: desperate), but also as to offer more space for him to join me when we realize that we are definitely M.F.E.O. (to decode that little gem, go watch Sleepless in Seattle) and that we should begin our wonderful life of discussing Proust and Nietzsche together as soon as possible?  Note to self: begin reading Proust and Nietzche.

Not to decide, however, is to decide, and to err means you’ve lost your train of thought…or something like that. Anyway, while I weigh the potency of my come-hither stare, a 60+ Earth Mother with mismatched socks (and sandals, of course), who smells faintly of wheat, breezes in and plunks her Make Your Own Soap in 3 Easy Steps! books down on the counter next to my Beloved.  Fine, I grumble.  All the better to make eyes at you from across the room, my dear.  Only a matter of time before my Bette Davis (brown) eyes draw you in.  Plopping my bags at a table nearby, I strategically situate myself so that I may appear aloof and interesting while reading my latest non-embarrassing purchase, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (THE book my writer friends said I must own immediately).

Every other page or so, I look up to take in Boyfriend’s well-worn jeans and cuffed Western-style shirt, his three-day-old scruff (it’s what happens when you’re in the throes of finishing the Great American Novel, sweetheart, I understand), his tousled locks and his Sperrys (something I’m willing to overlook, because really, what’s a horrible pair of shoes between two destined-for-each-other lovers?  And anyway, we can spend time replacing them once you’re published and semi-wealthy).  I imagine what our Sunday mornings will be like together, you know, once we’re comfortable enough with each other that I don’t mind him seeing me with Morning Hair (picture the Looney Tunes character Witch Hazel, if she had done battle with a crimping iron in a steam room…and lost).  We will drink coffee in bed while he reads Welty and Faulkner (being a scholar of the Southern gothic) and I work the New York Times crossword (in pen, bien sur) while the dog (I’m thinking Border collie, perhaps?) sleeps at our feet.

My reverie is daydreamus interruptus, however, when Boyfriend-soon-to-be-Fiancé suddenly stands up and turns towards me.  Darling! I think, and smile.  He begins packing up his things and walks towards me–ha-HA! ‘tis time–when out of nowhere a tall wisp of a woman of Asian-American parentage intercepts him.  Boyfriend and Girl chat for a moment, exchanging the niceties required of all Hollywood meet-cutes.  “Oh, excuse me, I didn’t see you there!”  “No problem, I was just leaving after an eventful morning of staring at my computer screen NOT writing anything worth reading,hahaha!” [runs hand though already perfectly mussed hair in a sheepish, Hugh Grantian way].

As My Betrothed walks away from her, he glances back and smiles and nearly trips over a table display of Halloween-themed teapots, making Homewrecker Hannah giggle and wave.  Hussy, I breathe, my man can’t be dissuaded with a cute giggle and a long pair of legs.  My man is FAITHFUL.  As he shuffles closer to me, still looking over his shoulder (um, darling, didn’t you learn by the first set of ill-placed pottery?), I begin to question his devotion.  And then, when he walks by me without ever taking notice of me or my conversation-starting books, I realize that Boyfriend-soon-to-be-Ex and I need to have a heart to heart.  Clearly this Sunday the dog will be the only one keeping me company in bed, as Boyfriend has earned himself a weekend in the penalty box.  Alas, he is out the door and down the steps before I even have a chance to demand that he explain himself or suggest that maybe we go to couples counseling to address the communication issues we’ve been having lately.

Hannah peers out the window after him, no doubt scoping out the type of car he drives; clearly she’s only about status rather than substance in a relationship.  Meanwhile, I’m left to reevaluate not only my choice in romantic partners (better off without him anyway–now I can eat a double stack of pancakes for Sunday brunch and not worry about feigning embarrassment when the top button of my jeans pops off) but also the veracity of my mother’s adage that you only have to make yourself available in order to meet The One.  And anyway, the only thing I’m supposed to be getting serious about right now is my writing, right?  Western Cowboy Barbie was only going to be an unnecessary distraction.

What can I say?  It would seem that writing–or learning about writing–is truly a solitary endeavor, and perhaps best done in the comfort of my own home instead of in public where I can experience the entire arc of a committed relationship in under an hour.  I’d say today was an exercise in discovering my literary potential as well as my romantic futility.  Also, I learned that I have extreme disdain for themed porcelain.  I mean, really, what self-respecting adult drinks Earl Gray from a pumpkin with painted-on googly eyes?  On second thought, however, maybe I’ll get one of those for Ex-Boyfriend and Homewrecker Hannah as a wedding gift–they seem like they will be very happy together.

You can read more from Eden Badgett at edenuncharted.blogspot.com

(Image via ShutterStock.)

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