Sunday, August 5, 2012

So You Think You Can Read?, or How Intimidatingly Smart Book Club Can Result In Awesome Friends And Also Giant Vampire Cardboard Figure As Free Gift With Purchase, by Allison

So last night, after collecting of some of my children from Camp of Happiest Campers and Counselors Who Smile and Wave With Enthusiasm But Are Not Robots I Checked, Matt and I got to go hang out with my friends MS and HH, and their very cool and awesome husbands JS and DH.

I met MS an HH when, shortly after moving to our town when Matt finished his residency, I had V, stopped working, and moved in like 3 seconds,  so major life changes all at one time, and I was invited by someone I'd just met to join one of her book clubs. She was in something crazy like 7 book clubs, I am not lying. I read A LOT, but that was unsettling. And she gave me choices, I can't remember them all, but it boiled down to: Fun Book Club That Does Not Read Book or Super Smart Book Club You Better Read Book.

Timidly, I chose Smart Book Club, because I was new mother who had never not worked outside the home and now have tiny baby to deal with, and so was totally afraid Baby Einstein would eat my brain and make me only talk about diapers in an Elmo voice. But with that description of Smart, You Better Bring It Book Club, I was terrified of the first meeting.

The book was The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, and I read that book like it was for a final exam that if I failed I would get shot or something. I did CHARTS. I was crazy person. I go to book club, and sit next to two very awesome, cool, fab women, who were all "Yes, we are super educated educators but this book was boring so we stopped." And I am all, "OH, Nuh uh. I read this thing. Sit and listen to my chart. Plus, if you didn't finish it you don't know who the Blind Assassin is, and I will tell you." (Note: Am normally Margaret Atwood fan, love The Handmaid's Tale, but Blind Assassin is not at the top of my list of  Allison Approved Books. In fact it is hovering in the lower part of that list.) (Addendum: I just decided The Blind Assassin is not on my list at all. Is on other list, a BAD one)

So memorizing book and creating props and whatnot was accidentally a genius move on my part. Because my extreme reading and analysis of the book, totally due to being awake a lot with a baby and also sheer TERROR of being booted out of a book club for not being smart enough,  somehow tricked these fantastic people into thinking I was like that all the time, like,with a functioning mental capacity and was all, Serious Literature All The Time.  No! Of course no US Weekly by my bedstand, noooo, am reading some James Joyce for fun.

MS and HH got the very very huge misconception that I had a brain in my head that was not full of nonsense, and now they are stuck with me. I should also note that not only are MS and HH smart and cool, they both have ridiculously fabulous, long, bouncy hair and it makes me insane, their gorgeous hair. But I can't let extreme hair coveting stop me from being friends with awesome people, and they are awesome.

We three fled the book club after it got taken over by people who were trying to make us read the Chicken Soup for the Soul type thing (Note: I am not saying Chicken Soup books are bad if those books are your fave, just saying they are not my fave and do not want to go to book club about them). 

PLUS,  I had already earned massive Book Club Gold Stars for reading Philip Roth's The Human Stain while in LABOR and delivering my daughter E. (Note: Reading it made me mad because he has a very masculine writing style and take on the world, and I was all not masculine in that I was currently having a baby. Additionally, while The Human Stain was distracting me from unfun labor pains (even though its title was a bit on the nose for me), it was not as much a diversion as something non-serious.  But alas, Twilight hadn't been invented yet - and by the way, that would have been very helpful since the birth scene in that series (Spoiler!!)  involves chewing the baby out and death,  and while having baby is not leisure activity, nobody was chewing the baby out of me and (Spoiler!! )I did not die.

 However,  it did make me feel badass in that who reads a serious piece of literature while in labor? Me, that's who.  Remember, I am nerd. Also, sharp pain makes you remember stuff, so I got that book down cold, and had lots to share at the book club. Also, now am known lunatic book reader who can't stop reading even to have a baby, which is crazy but way better than other things I have been called in life.)

So after abandoning book club that had been taken over by people who collect those porcelain statues of kids with the big eyes (Precious Angels? Little Precious? Something like that, and Note, I am not saying anything is wrong with those figurines if that is your thing, to collect those whatalls, just saying I am not personally a fan, but rock on with your Precious Moments - ooh, I think that is what they are called -- I just do not want any or to look at them while discussing book that is also not in my wheelhouse of Allison Approved), MS and HH and I get together whenever we can, we hang on my front porch as it is decadent and delightful when the weather turns cool, or we all go out with husbands in tow, meet for lunch, etc.  And (squeeee!) also we go hear HH's husband DH give talks on governmental things as he is Professor of Political Science and guess what? I majored in that!!! I LOVE that stuff!!!!

Want to drag me out of the house in the evening when I am in jammies and the girls have driven me insane and I am hiding in the shower reading a book? (Note: The book I am reading while hiding is totally Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man. I did not throw my copy of that book away while dancing with glee after the paper I wrote on it was graded and I didn't ever have to look at it again)

Lure me with a lecture on the Senate and its structural flaws. I am all over that. And DH is awesomely smart professor and engaging in his lectures, plus he references things governmental that are stored somewhere in the dusty, cavernous, not at all used much (unless I am using negotiation strategy in dealing with the girls or glue huffing handymen or whatnot) part of my brain.  DH even referenced the humongous, diabolical filibustering done by one Strom Thurmond in an attempt to stop a civil rights bill in the 1950's, and I know all about this filibustering because:

1. Was Government major in college

2. Had professors wicked enough to make me read the entire, over 24 hour transcript of the above referenced filibuster, done solely to block the civil rights bill, and that thing was a rambling, super long jumble of states voting rights, leading to stuff I think from Anglo-Saxon lawmaking, possibly a phone book too, has been a while since I read it but have flashbacks

3.Having read that whole nonsense thing, I can never ever forget its purpose and motives behind it, also it TOTALLY  SUCKED to read that whole stupid thing and I was mad enough to be mad about it still.

Am holding grudge.
Probably that was the point the professor was trying to make, but I am kind of mad at him, because that thing was a looooooooooooong thing to read, and coming from me:

The Me who has no edit button whatsoever

The Me who needed more than one bluebook for exams back in Ye Olden Days in which we had to write out our answers in pen in a book, uphill, in the snow

And The Me who had to start blog because emails and Facebook posts were too long for people to deal with:  If I am saying something is rambling and too long and goes off-topic,  that is quite the j'accuse.

After the Senate speech, I told DH I had to read the whole Thurmond filibuster in school, and he is all, "Whoa. That is one hardcore professor, seriously?"
And now I am afraid future DH students may be in for quite a reading assignment, although is is great professor and not sadist so maybe not.

But my point is, HH has excellent husband who will listen to me yammer on about government nerd camp and the extremely unacceptable treatment of me by one famous AP reporter who was MEAN and:  Note to Influential People Speaking To Government Nerd Camp Kids:  Don't be mean to interested nerdy high schoolers. Do you want them to spiral down into an ABC Afterschool Special because you were so awful?  Don't be awful. Be cool. Crushing the still-forming hearts and esteem of kids is NOT a nice thing to do and you are on my LIST.
(Note: That list is not the one that contains things that are Allison Approved. That list may or may not involve my abilities as ninja and/or witch. I can't really talk about it. )

But back to my comrades in Escape From Book Club of Forced Sentimental Tear Jerking, get this, HH herself is art history professor who specializes in Italian Renaissance but knows all art history stuff ever, and I am just bedazzled by that. I loved all those classes I took in school and am fangirl. She humors me about this. Plus, she goes to Italy and teaches and also does fabulous things in fabulous Italy over the summer, so you know she must be great if I do not immediately murder her out of sheer envy of the going-to-Italy-for-work thing. Plus the awesome hair.

Granted, HH did study a majillion years and defend theses and all, but if I could get that time machine (Note: I only want time machine if your time machine takes me where I want to go and not Jurassic Park or Middle School) I'd smack College Allison in the head and say, "You think law school sounds good? Nobody sends you to Italy in law school!!!! Think perks, College Allison. You like perks, remember? Plus there are dudes in Italy who will handmake shoes on your feet, right there as you sit there! For real!  Honeymoon Allison will learn that, but you can get ahead of the curve on her if you do some things involving you going to Italy for whatever  thing related to education people will fund or agree to, you will LOVE these shoes, think Jackie O circa late 1970's when she wore the white jeans and the cool sandals."

And other  book club evacuee is most excellent  MS.  She is one of those people who are born cool, stay cool, exude cool, in a way in which seems effortless because she is also geniune and kind and warm and not Total Snot, which she could be, given her level of cool.  Plus MS is smart and aforementioned good hair.
And her husband JS is the epitome of hipster chic (can you say chic for a guy? Is that a thing? If not, he is whatever the guy version of chic is), and has that talent where when talking to him, he is listening to you. Listening to you, not looking over your shoulder for someone higher up on the social ladder or whatever, or thinking of what he's going to say next, he's listening to you.

 It is sad that that trait is a rare one, but it is, and he owns it, so they are one cool family of cool. And MS is also like, getting another advanced degree in something awesome, while maintaining college job and having cool kids who will completely and totally scare the living daylights out of any girls' parents if they come pick them up for a date or whatever a couple of years from now, NOT because they are Bad Boyz at all -- they are great kids, but they have that je ne sais quois, whatever it is that is pitched to a tune that resonates with teenage girls -  because those boys are going to be object of many crushes, I have reliable radar for that.  So basically, E cannot go within ten miles of those boys in a few years.

And last night, having lovely dinner party evening with these delightful people results in awesome conversation, excellent mixology by DH who has the Cosmopolitan down perfectly, interesting and varied discussions on whatever. So there is no need for any of these people to be extra awesome, but guess what? They are!!!

Because not only smart and hair and funny and all, they are whole heartedly humoring me with the non-serious reading part of my personality, the part that super hearts the silly vampire saga (Note: HH and MS both read and liked those sparkly vampire books before any of us ever discussed them with one another, and the conversation in which it was revealed that we were all junkies was hysterical, no one wanted to 'fess up, but once on table, it was nice to think that intelligent cool women you admire like that same thing that percolates up for me about those books, which is that zap back to 15 year old girl thing. )

In fact, at my last birthday (exact date redacted due to author's vanity), the Wickedly Malevolent in the Best Way MS and husband JS and their sons went about town, with a giant Rob Pattinson in full vampire mode cutout, lifesize, and took pictures of him in all my normal haunts (Starbucks, gym, nail salon, Fresh Market, looking through my front window, in my yard, etc) and left a book of said pictures on my doorstep prior to my (none of your business what year it was) birthday party.

In fact, MS and JS are so totally owning the crazy that while they were toting the cardboard movie character around,  they made their son wear a full-on PANDA COSTUME  while delivering the book to me in case I was home and would figure out who was doing this pretend vampire boyfriend stalking.

And I came home, found the book  (sadly, missed the panda costume delivery), was totally amazed because JS is graphics guru so it looks like the real Rob Pattinson as Edward Cullen is following me around, although I figured that was not the case, it was giant fun.

And thinking of who may have made the book was also giant fun, although I'd pretty much narrowed it down to MS anyhow because she is combo of talented, has graphics guru husband, knows me and where I go each day, is mischevious, and not afraid to walk around with a cutout vampire. Son in forced panda suit I did not know about until later, but that is AWESOME.  And as the piece de resistance, the fireworks at the end of the Disney Parade, the cherry on the sundae, they snuck him in at my birthday party, somehow involving JS climbing roof or wall or something, and it was awesome.

(Me at my whatever year SHUT UP birthday party, with Matt humoring me with my silliness as always, and also my new cardboard pretend vampire boyfriend, who, by the way, lives in our house now and the girls randomly dress him up in fedoras or boas or whatnot, also I buy him his own movie ticket to the crazy lady midnight showing of the movies, because why not? And also, the complete hysteria over these movies makes grown people want to take pictures with your cutout movie character boyfriend, as if he is the actual person, nobody even looks at you like you are crazy.)

So that was rambling even more than usual.
I TOTALLY  need that intern to edit this stuff, but here are the Lessons for Today:

1. Join the book club that sounds like scary people reading ancient texts in Greek or whatever, you will find supersmart friends there, and do not hate them because their hair is gorgeous because they are also awesome friends.

2. Quit the book club when the creepy (sorry) figurines come out, and just hang out on porches or wine bars or dinner parties instead. But don't quit reading, reading is the best. That is my platform for when I run for Miss America or Queen.

3. Strom Thurmond was extremely lame doing that stupid filibuster thing. If you have to read it for school, I am sorry for you.

4. It is ok to have a cutout movie character living in your house because he scares away bad guys. (Or, this is what I tell the girls so they don't immediately march to the school counselor about this.)