I am a reader. Given the choice between doing just about anything and reading– except for maybe eating and popping bubble wrap– I will choose reading. So far since Christmas, I’ve read eight books in their entirety; it’s the 15th of January. I say this not to brag (or, alternatively, to give light to the sad, antisocial life I lead) but rather to preface the strange frame of mind in which I currently find myself.
When I love a book, I get totally lost in it. I start speaking like my favorite characters and sometimes even make semi-major life decisions based off what those characters would do. I usually fall in love with at least one of these people and find myself dreaming that I’m actually living my life in the pages and then feeling ultimately disappointed when I wake up and realize it isn’t true. Weird, right?
As you can imagine, this sometimes becomes a problem when real life doesn’t measure up. For example, I have a promising job lead that could allow me to really make a difference and do some good. But all I want to do is learn how to swordfight (because I feel that is a valid life skill, and also because it is awesome) and make my living as a cutthroat. Problem. So for instances such as these, I’ve created a handy little guide for myself to pull me back to reality and remind me of the less glamorous side of my favorite novels.
1. Why I Shouldn’t Live in a Castle
No central heating. No air conditioning. No indoor plumbing. And– here’s the biggie– no toilet paper. But wouldn’t it be worth it if I was hanging out with Inigo Montoya or tending to the wounds of Jamie Frasier? Maybe, until I died of some awful untreatable disease. Because not only was there no toilet paper back in the day, but PEOPLE DID NOT WASH THEIR HANDS after using ye royal privvy. Even if they were making your bed. Even if they were cooking your food. And furthermore, people didn’t bathe that often, and… well, actually, I’m okay with that one. What I couldn’t handle? No tooth brushes. And if I need any further dissuasion, all I have to do is read the Song of Ice and Fire series because (although they are awesome) there is nothing glamorous about living in those books. Unless you find decapitation and rape glamorous, in which case, we’re gonna need a bigger list…
2. Why I Shouldn’t Live on the Prairie
See many of the above and add snake bites, outlaws, yellow fever, and Indian attacks (not politically correct, I know, but this is assuming I’m using the lingo of those times). Also waking up at the crack of dawn every day and working from sunup to sundown? No public libraries for hundreds of miles? NO ICE CREAM?? But surely getting to spend the 4th of July with Captain Jack might make up for a thing or two. And if anything ever got really dire, I could always send for Sully (okay, not a book character, but who can resist that sweet tomahawk action?) But then… what if Sully’s off an a vision quest and Captain Jack got detained at the fort and I’m all alone on the ranch with my nine babies (yep, that’s another important thing they didn’t have back in the day… babysitters) and it turns out Angel the prostitute really didn’t have a heart of gold and sold me out to Jesse James and on top of that a passel of Indians finds out my baby daughter was stolen from them and they’ll stop at nothing to take her back…??!! Okay, maybe the wild west isn’t for me after all…
3. Why I Shouldn’t Become a Pirate
Okay, so there’s the whole killing thing, which I’m sort of opposed to… and the fact that women were considered wicked bad luck and that I’d either have to be in disguise or end up walking the plank… added to the fact that sharks are my absolute worst fear and that parrots are a close second… and the fact that I like having all of my body parts and teeth… and that I would hate to sleep in a hammock every night and that I’m absolutely rubbish at tying knots… Okay so it’s actually hard to remember why I wanted to be a pirate except that I like to say “yar” and look pretty good in an eye patch. Also, despite previously mentioned fear of sharks, I actually love the sea and ships and dolphins, and I still feel like swordfighting is a skill I could use in everyday life– like if someone cuts in line at the grocery store or answers their cell phone in the movie theater– but I guess I can see how the bad outweighs the good. Sort of. Maybe.
4. Why I Shouldn’t Fall In Love with a Jerk
But he has a heart of gold under that rough exterior! He had a terrible childhood! His mother never loved him! He can change!
Ha! This one is even bigger fiction than traveling through time or exchanging a magical pair of pants with three of my closest friends. Actually, I usually don’t need much convincing with this one because I don’t like mean people, but on those rare occasions when I think to myself: maybe there’s more to him than meets the eye… maybe Fanny should give Henry Crawford a chance… NO! Stop in the name of pants!!
Look, maybe a guy does have a troubled past. Maybe he does have some issues. Maybe there is some good buried deep down inside. But if he isn’t nice to you? You don’t have to put up with that, no matter what his childhood traumas were (and that’s vice-versa to you, guys. Don’t let some girl treat you like crap. Unless it’s me).
And you know what? Maybe he can change. In fact, I’m a big believer that people can turn their lives around. But they have to do it on their own, and until they do, you don’t have to be the one being treated like crap. You’ll notice Lizzie didn’t give Mr. Darcy the time of day until he got his act together and started treating her right, and neither should you. Which leads to…
5. Why I Shouldn’t Marry Mr. Darcy
…Actually, I got nothing for this…
6. Why I Shouldn’t Wander the Moors
This one is pretty self-explanatory, too, especially after revisiting #4. But if I ever become a ghost or get locked away in somebody’s attic– I’m sorry, when, not if– I’m so doing it Bronte style. I mean, if you’re gonna go for it, you might as well go for it. Heeeeeeathcliiiiiiifffff…..
7. Why I Shouldn’t Sit Around Waiting For My Owl
First off, I’ve been waiting 10 years and it still hasn’t come, so either Dumbledore is still annoyed with me for implying that he and Minerva were having a thing– or, as I have long suspected, my owl has gotten lost in transit (possibly shot and eaten by my redneck neighbors… poor Hedwig…)
Second, I’m pretty sure if I were to be sorted I wouldn’t be a Gryffindor because I can’t even swim by myself in a pool for fear that a shark might suddenly appear and eat me (see #3) so I don’t think I qualify for the whole “brave and courageous” thing. Which leaves me Slytherin (no thanks– see #4), or Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. Which begs the question, what on earth is a Hufflepuff?? (For some reason, I imagine those little guys from Despicable Me only furrier. I guess I can get on board with that…) Unfortunately, I can’t think of a single important character in the series who was Hufflepuff, at least not one I’d like to hang out with. I mean, there was Cedric Diggory in the books who was all phwoar, hello salty goodness until he got cast as R-Patz in the movie. Now every time I read his name all I see is sparkly vampire. I’d kind of love to be a Ravenclaw and hang out with Luna Lovegood, but then I’d have to be in the same house as Ho Chang. Excuse me, typo– Cho Chang. MAJOR drag. Also, I guess the imminent threat of danger and dismemberment from Basilisks and giant spiders and He Who Must Not Be Named would also be a deterrent… but mostly Cho Chang. Slut.
Well, I think that pretty much covers it for now. I guess I shouldn’t live in a book. I guess someday I’ll have to become a real grownup and start eating fiber and paying mortgages. Unless I find my way to Neverland or Narnia, or the Tardis lands in my back yard (again, not a book, though it should be), in which case all bets are off. But until that day, I’m still gonna be a reader. Tonight I only have 60 pages left of my book, and methinks it’s time to see what my good friend Petyr Baelish is up to…