Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Literary Boob(s)

So, the book I’m reading now is called Bleachy Haired Honky Bitch. My friend Beth gave it to me (the title made her immediately think I would like it, which I find both flattering and rather sad), and actually I really love it so far. Its author, Hollis Gillespie, is brash and bawdy and hilarious, and I think that if I had been raised in a trailer park in the South I might actually have become her. As it is, I grew up on the streets of Park Slope – which, though my block did have prostitutes and drug dealers in the early ‘90s, cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called “mean streets”, no matter how much I would like to sound tough, unless I am talking to an Amish person or a reealllly slow gas station attendant in the Midwest, in which case they always ask me if I carry a gun, and oh my Christ this is the longest sentence I have ever written and it needs to die -- without a dysfunctional bone in my body (those grew in later), and so I am playing catch-up late in life.

I’ll give you a sec to recover from that last paragraph. Ooooo-weeeee!

Anyway, the book is awesome, but as I sat reading it on the Q train this morning, folding the neon yellow-and-pink cover over in shame, it got me thinking that any book with a title and cover that entices me to buy it is probably also a book I would not like to be seen reading. I am an advertiser’s muse; if it’s bright and bold and has a catchy name, I will consume it. This goes for everything from USWeekly to Confessions of a Video Vixen. What can I say? I like my reading to be salacious and funny. In fact, I think I need it to be. The only thing worse, in my opinion, than being stuck on a stalled R train in the middle of summer, packed in like a sardine next to fat, grab-assy men with sweat stains and women whose fake nails dig into your fist as you vie for a spot on the pole is to do it while reading Faulkner. That would create a situation that would end, for me, with the phrase “…before turning the gun on herself.”

I happily tote my gossip rags and lite lit onto the train to read as I go to work, but once I get to the platform I tuck the cover between my fingers so that passersby can’t tell what I’m reading. Since I make snap judgments about people (the woman on the train reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a sucker; the hipster reading Foucault is pretentious), I assume they make them about me, too. Therefore I only display my reading material when it does not prominently feature neon colors, half-naked celebrities, and/or saucy titles. ‘Ah,’ I imagine some fellow rider might say, ‘Look at that young woman reading the New Yorker. She must be an upstanding young citizen.’, as opposed to ‘Why is that girl looking at pictures of Tara Reid’s ass?’ Only once did this strategy betray me, when the New Yorker I was reading featured a full page collage of vintage Playboy centerfolds. I unknowingly revealed what looked like porn to a whole group of older women, and had to hold up the magazine to cover my face for the rest of the ride, partly to hide my shame and partly to show them LOOK! I’m reading the NEW YORKER. I am VERY LITERARY, and SO ARE THE BOOBS I AM LOOKING AT.

I wish I weren’t so concerned with what people think of me, but I am. So, with apologies to the delicious Ms. Gillespie, who defused my subway rage all the way to 14th street this morning, I will have to be a closet fan, until I get up the guts to accept that Bleachy Haired Honky Bitch is, well, just my kind of title .

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