Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nose in a Book

Last week I was sitting in the orthodontist’s waiting room, waiting for my daughter to come out, and I look around at all the high-achieving parental types busily working on their tablets and mini-tablets and smartphones and whatever else, and I notice this one guy is reading a BOOK.

Not just a book but this really old-looking book. I’m talking no book jacket. Zero cover art. Just some gilt lettering. I was pretty sure the dude was reading the Illiad.  I was intrigued. Who was this brave, possibly hipster, dad who seemed purposely out-of-step with the rest of the waiting room parents? Didn't he have email to check? Facebook statuses to update? Tweets to retweet?! Tumblrs to tumbl? My GOD! He could be falling minutes behind the rest of the world!

I leaned way forward and craned my neck, pretending to examine the gum disease pamphlets on the wall, but then he shifted in his seat and despite all my squinting, I still couldn’t see the spine of the book clearly.

There was a time when you could pretty easily get a look at the cover of somebody’s book on the subway and in so doing, JUDGE THEM.

But no more.

And it’s all because of these blasted e-readers. Don't get me wrong, I actually love my e-reader, but they do create certain problems. How, I ask you, am I supposed to nosily figure out what you’re reading if I can’t pretend to drop my glove just so I can lean way over and look at the cover of whatever drivel you’re wasting your time on? Or, conversely, reading to impress total strangers?

Please tell me that I’m not the only person who does this.* 

I just like looking at what other people are reading. But I’m looking in a non-creepy way. OF COURSE I AM. I’m not creepy. I’m nosy. There’s a big difference, and it usually involves a restraining order.


Modern life. I guess being nosy about other people’s reading material is yet another old-fashioned custom gone the way of the fax machine.

*Why do so many of my blog posts feature a plea at the end that basically amounts to, “I’m not that weird, right? RIGHT?”