I want to date a girl who reads. A girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. A girl who has a list of books she wants to read or has already read, and who has had a library card since she was twelve and in primary school
I want to find a girl who reads. I will know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag, under her pillow or her bedside table. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. See the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader and I want to date her for real. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and mothy.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If I take a peek at her mug, the creamer is floating on top because she’s so engrossed already that she forgot her coffee was getting cold. She is lost in a world of the author’s making. I will sit down. She might give me a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. I will ask her if she likes the book. I will buy her another cup of coffee.
She’s the girl reading while stuck in traffic on her way home from work. While the other passengers are busy wondering when the gridlock will clear, when they will get home, when they will alight, what they will wear tomorrow or how that date will go; she is wondering what will happen to Santiago in The Alchemist. Will he reach the pyramids even with all the odds stack against him? She is silently crying for Dill in To Kill a Mocking Bird. I will ask her if she likes the book. I may pay her fare home; she may be too engrossed to realize the conductor has not asked her.
I will let her know what I really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Did she now get why Nafisi had to Read (ing) Lolita in Tehran and in private. I will understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. I will ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
I will ask her if she has read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and how the title, ironic as it is, is derived from Miranda’s speech in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest; oh, has she read The Tempest? Sons and Lovers, has she read that? I guess she understands the oedipal drama that surrounds Paul Morel.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. I will give her Ayan Hirsi’s The Nomad for her birthday, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf for Christmas and My Heart is a Lonely Hunter for anniversaries. I will give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. I promise to give her Neruda, Dickens, Hughes, Pound, Allan Poe, Hemmingway, Cummings, Frost, Maya Angelou, Yehuda Amichai.
I will let her know that I understand that words are love. I perfectly understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by God, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. Like Alice in Wonder Land or Cinderella and her prince. It will never be my fault if she does. She has to give it a shot somehow.
I will lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world. For through words, do we express who we really are, our hopes and aspirations. After all she knows the Bennet’s daughters did it all the time in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
I will fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. And I can always write a sequel. That I can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two. Judith McNaught’s Paradise brings that so well and I know she has read it. She has to!
With a girl who reads I am not frightened of everything that I am not. I know girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Gossip Girl series where Serena Van Der Woodsen still gets everything easy from chapter one to the end. I can be myself, with my imperfections, my issues and shortcomings. She is comfortable because has read Phantom.
If I find a girl who reads, I will keep her close. When I find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, I make her a cup of tea and hold her and tell her it is OK. It was a good read. I may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to me, she always does. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
I may propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or during a book reading. Or very casually next time she’s sick, over Skype.
I will smile so hard I will wonder why my heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over my chest yet. We will write the story of our lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce my children to the Harry Potter series and Jane Austen’s Emma, maybe in the same day. I will walk the winters of our old age together interpreting The Dream Within. She will recite Keats under her breath while I add firewood to the mantel. She will read Rebecca while I kiss her gently and soliloquize Only You when I am making love to her. Watching the sunset she will be memorizing Tristan and Isolde.
I will date a girl who reads because I deserve it. I deserve a girl who can give me the most colorful life imaginable. If I can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then I am better off alone. If I want the world and the worlds beyond it, I will date a girl who reads.
-Don Eddie Ombagi-