I was always completely aware that the trip to Israel was going to be much worse than the trip in Israel. A redeye from LA followed by an 11 hour flight to the promised land on an airline that promised to interrogate me. All of those dreams did come true.
In my ever logical and valiant efforts to arrive in Israel relatively bright eyed I resolved to stay awake all of Saturday night and sleep through the long haul flight. In this pursuit I decided that eight new books might be adequate to keep me occupied and awake. Little did I know I wouldn’t need any of them. By fate, or possibly a fatal combination of obliviousness and tenacity, I kept the poor man sitting next to me up for 5 hours; and he kept me up.
First, there was the mandatory tail feather flaunting of what schools we went to and what enviable jobs we have had. And then we had to prove how clever and smart we were. But then hours passed in a haze punctuated by in depth literary analysis, rather intimate commentary on our lives thus far and candid musings on our purpose and very selves. The flight crew, who were already striving for new levels of on board cheek, gave us a bottle of wine, and we drank it- at three in the morning. This, of course, both mellowed and intensified an already heady conversation, though wine did feel more appropriate than breakfast.
He decided he knew me well enough to flick me when I was being cute, and I decided he might be allowed to finish his own sentences instead of amusing myself with my own endings.
As any heroine would, I wrote my name in the back of his novel, and left him enigmatically at the gate. All before I ever left the country.
It turns out that there are many things that I thought were so universal and obvious that they didn’t need to be discussed, but in this particular instance, and many others, I am wrong. Given the general trend among people to be willfully illiterate I suppose it is not surprising that Literary Crushes are not as common a phenomenon as I thought. As the name suggests, a Literary Crush is a romantic infatuation with a fictional character. This is not to be confused with the insanity associated with Twilight characters which I can only term as emotional cultdom. I am talking about a normal, healthy, I-really-wish-this-was-a-real-person-so-we-could-meet-and-fall-in-love-and-be-happy-forever crush. What may not be quite so healthy is that I have considerably more literary crushes than real person crushes, but I’m going to attribute that to spending more time with books than people.
It was also recently brought to my attention that there are far more crush options available to women than men- varying of course depending on the kind of person you are into. Assuming you are into dynamic character-people you really can’t get invested in traditional romance novel characters and for some reason the women in fiction tend to be accessories to the story, and not nearly so confident, strong and sexy as their fictional male counterparts. Of course there are exceptions, otherwise guys would have no idea what I’m talking about (I hear Daisy Buchanan is popular) but I get their point overall.
Ladies on the other hand, we get to take our pick from the likes of Mr. Darcy, Rhett Butler, Matthew Clairmont et cie(which is only the tip of a very large iceberg). And while there will always be criticism of taking fiction too seriously, I highly value and encourage a nice literary crush. It can help you figure out what you like and don’t like without the messy fallout of actually experiencing it and hurting some very non-fictional feelings. It can help you assemble a blueprint, as it were, to match real people up against when looking for specific traits you know you adore (though this can definitely be taken too far). Best of all, your literary crush is always there in your head when you want to spend time with them- which is also the worst of all, since they can’t actually exist outside of your head.
There are some very clear pros and cons to any crush, but I can’t recommend a good Lit Crush enough. The nature of that crush is entirely up to you, and you don’t have to tell anyone how serious you are about them… until the wedding and/or hysterical pregnancy.
Before you get too excited, this has nothing to do with my life going fabulously well in comparison to other era’s of my life (hard to do when most of them are as yet to be experienced). It does, however, have everything to do with how similar my current disposition and situation seem to mirror that of Belle’s. Given the pop culture climate I feel it’s important to distinguish that I’m referring to Disney Belle and not Belle de Jour of the very entertaining and popular, Secret Diary of a Call Girl series. Not prostitute, Disney princess. Good? Good.
While California coastal towns are not exact replicas of French provincial towns they are kind of the same in that there is a family owned bakery where they make bread everyday, and as in the movie, no one speaks French. The same people doing the same things is starting to wear on me and I generally feel more at home in a bookstore than anywhere else, though since the advent of Visa no kindly shopkeepers with hair in their ears are handing me my favorite books for free.
[Sidenote: I don’t know what crazy story she’s reading with the prince, and the hidden identity thing, and this clueless heroine who can’t figure shit out for three chapters is, but that crazy Shakespearean/ Bourne Identity nightmare is not available on my Kindle.]
Without a doubt, I feel that both Belle and I are destined for as-yet-undiscovered great things. Hers involved falling in love with some kind of angry, talking minotaur and I’m hoping the object of my destiny falls more into the tall, handsome, and human category, but why quibble over details? Chick ends up with a castle and a kick ass library. Which is worth it even if she apparently has to waltz about the ballroom in the same yellow dress every evening for the servants’ amusement. People already think I’m exceptionally strange, just like Belle, but also are typically willing to forgive this character flaw if I hush up and sit pretty the rest of the time. I can only pray that no neck-less misogynistic hunters are plotting to surprise marry me, but one can never be too careful. I think that stalker I had totally qualifies in this instance. My dad likes cars and Belle’s dad likes, um, moving conveyance thingies. And the inanimate objects in my house do not talk to me, but I certainly talk to them. Maybe you didn’t need to know that part.
So, obviously, Belle and I are exactly the same and now all I have to do is wait for destiny to follow its natural course and I too can have the privilege of presiding over a kingdom that no one knows exists, since 10 years is adequate time for a castle and monarchy to be entirely forgotten and hidden in a dark forest full of wolves. If you’ll excuse me, it is half past singing loudly in the middle of the street time.
As an expert in people watching I cannot recommend a more entertaining place to disappear into a corner and judge our fellow human beings. First of all, it is very easy place to disappear and no one really questions you sitting in the corner silently,this behavior tends to freak people out otherwise.
The most prevalent, and very best thing, about the people you see in the library on Saturday morning is the self-satisfied smirk that everyone is wearing to one degree or another that clearly says, “Look how intellectual and smart I am, I am in the library, and I’m here to get a book unlike all of you other aimless library go-ers.” The smirk prevails even when they nonchalantly walk past the map one or twelve times in an attempt to figure out where they actually want to be without giving anyone the impression that they don’t know exactly where they want to be (thus cracking the self-important facade).
But even before the map-sign dance there is the entrance. Besides the cranky library card officials who quite honestly have nothing better to do, there’s the people who don’t walk far enough in to actually make contact with any books, but stick to the free DVD rentals- and maybe glance at the New Arrivals shelf just to legitimize their trip. Yet, for some reason, they have no qualms about surveying you from head to toe when you walk in and trying to guess which department you’re headed to. Obviously the very tiny people have given themselves away by being children and thus go to the room allotted to them. Everyone else has five seconds in which their clothes, facial expression, and carrying device are all scrutinized even though everyone watching is going to find out where you’re going in about three seconds. You can practically see the bets being placed.
I was in a black sundress, smiling, with my purse- so it was generally assumed that I was going to do some damage in chick lit. Or, since I’m blonde, not-so-subtly venture into the picture books. When I made a beeline for the Reference section there were more than a couple dropped jaws, and not a couple of people waiting for me to circle back with a look of utter confusion. Never underestimate the power of a little advance googling.
I not only knew what section the book I wanted was in, but had memorized the reference number and walked straight to it without any assistance. One must be careful not to adapt the put upon airs of the grad students who have been sequestered in there for so long they feel you are intruding on their living room- pretentious is never cute. But the confidence of “Yes, I know where all of the books are” is just smug enough to make you feel like hot library shit. And that’s not a bad accomplishment for a Saturday morning.
Please avert your eyes from the archive basement dwellers on your way out. Or have coffee with them- it’s a good habit not to judge anything by its cover.