Oh, how I love a man who reads!
This fetish, however, wasn’t always so pronounced. When I was just a wee high school lass for example, I liked butts. A guy with a nice arse. In fact, as I type, I am remembering two particular arses that earned much of my attention, focus that might have been better spent on studying British poetry or dissecting a frog heart or memorizing African geography. Useful stuff.
And as I sit here typing, twenty-five years later, still not totally clear on African geography, I wonder . . . have the ravages of time somehow spared those two particularly fine specimens of male tush? I know not.
(I also know not why I just wrote a sentence with Shakespearean diction. But I’m going to go with it.)
As I have aged, of course, I realize that a nice arse can only take a man so far, that other attributes are slightly more important in a male mate.
Kindness. Sense of humor. A solid faith. He thinks I am funny. He doesn’t mind that I wear the weirdest conglomeration of clothing as pajamas. Forgiveness. He doesn’t get mad when I park too close to one side of the garage, thereby forcing his 6’4″ self to scrunch up in order to exit the passenger side of the car. More forgiveness. I’m not a good house cleaner. Willingness to attend Sound of Music sing-alongs.
My college beau loved to read, yet literarily, he was nearly impossible to please. This was, in fact, also hot. He would get so easily fired up about all the things he disliked about a piece of fiction, voicing astute opinions about narrative structure and character, finding strands of plot that were gratuitous or just plain silly.
Of course, now that I am a writer, his discriminating taste is not hot. It’s terrifying. I imagine him raking my writing, my novel over the coals, just as he did with all manner of canonical literature. Just as he still does when we (as we are among the lucky ones who are able to be friends) chat about the books we read.
When I met Husbandio on a blind date, I fell for him the moment he uttered this sentence: “I’m learning Russian, Sarah, because I thought it would be cool to read Dostoevsky in Russian.”
He then proceeded to talk about books he had loved . . . Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose. Tolstoy and Chekhov.
Wouldst that someone might hie ye hither to retrieve the fire extinguisher! Post Haste!
Of course, a few years into our marriage, I realized that his hot, first date monologue had been, well, not a lie or a ruse. Not even an exaggeration to get me to go out with him again. He didn’t (yet) realize that he was to be my betrothed, my sweet-breathed Romeo. As I would be his dear Juliet.
On that first date, as he shared his literary dreams, he just thought we were chatting. You know, about things and stuff.
Not me, man. HE WANTED TO READ DOSTOEVSKY IN RUSSIAN. He loved The English Patient.
Thoughts of arses flew by the wayside! Arses mattered not even a jot! What, after all, is a nice arse when compared to a passion for literature?
And, Husbandio’s Dostoevsky dreams were truthful. In college, he had read and loved those novels. In the early years of our marriage, he did study Russian with older, thick-waisted women named Irina. They were all named Irina. And they were all thick-waisted. And they were all about as cheery and encouraging as you, dear reader, might imagine.
Still, he stuck with it because, darn it, he really did want to read Dostoevsky in Russian.
His “passion” for fiction, however, might have been a little exaggerated.
Maybe he wanted to impress me, on that first date, in those first years of marriage. Or, maybe when you are single, as he clearly was when he walked into my marriage snare, you believe you will always have time to dream and read and study languages that require knowledge of an entirely different alphabet.
Of course, that’s not the case. Work becomes more consuming. Young children ingest your free time as if it were cotton candy. Things like reading and shaving your legs and knitting sweaters fall by the wayside. Life gets very busy.
Therefore, for a lot of years, Husbandio read very little fiction. Sure, I forced him to read The Great Gatsby. I captured him and his attention whilst on lengthy road trips, popping in a book on CD while we drove. But when he had time to read, he mostly picked up non-fiction. And non-fiction, as you likely know, is only vaguely hot.
A man out for a walk with his chocolate lab puppy has the same hotness as a guy reading a novel from the Man Booker short list.
A man reading non-fiction? That’s like a man taking a walk with his cockatiel on his shoulder.
(Not that he’s not hot; he’s just a little more pirate-y than I can handle.)
But just this summer, fourteen years into our marriage, something miraculous transpired, something to make me realize that First Date Husbandio is still alive and well.
Husbandio started to read fiction again. Five or six books since the summer.
He’s like this guy, but with books instead of hot dogs.
It’s a change that makes me wonder why a fiction-reading man is so attractive. Do I prefer a man who prefers to reside, for brief periods of time, in a fictional world? Do I just like being with someone who loves reading as much as I do? And why doesn’t non-fiction have the same hubba hubba effect on me?
Alack and alas, I know not the answers to any of those questions, be that I am a mere, muddle-headed pigwort of a wife.
I only know that this morning, I put Husbandio on a plane to Atlanta with a fresh novel in his backpack. Ha-cha-cha-cha-cha!
Pirate-parrot guy photo courtesy of Flickr’s mnassal’s photostream.
Hot dog eating guy photo courtesy of Flickr’s Space Pirate Queen.