Monday, July 26, 2010
Wherein I discover a few things about myself
Saturday night I talked books for three hours.
It was that Literary Ladies Night that I mentioned in a previous blog, the one where I said I had to choose my favorite book to share.
I was more than a little nervous about the evening. For one thing, since I'm a true introvert, I'm not a joiner. I'm not a mixer. I have been, all of my life, painfully shy and awkward, and inclined to blurt out things that come out entirely wrong. Maybe that's why I prefer books and writing to social functions -- at social functions there's no such thing as a delete key.
For another, two of the ladies to be at the event were college professors. Okay, so once upon a time I was a college English instructor, but one of these ladies had a master's degree and the other was the proud possessor of a Ph.D. To say that I was psyched out was an understatement of British proportions.
The third reason is that I had offered to bring chicken salad before I remembered that I was a Bad Cook. Sure, it's awfully hard to mess up chicken salad; after all it's just chicken, mayo and loads of sweet salad cubes (chunky relish for all you who reside north of the Mason-Dixon line.) But I'm terribly self-conscious of my cooking.
We wound up with six ladies, with six books, as well as egg-salad sandwiches, hummus and chips, pesto, strawberries and cantaloupe and brownies, plus my chicken salad. Round-robin we went. I was fifth, and glad of it so that I could Monkey-See-Monkey-Do.
Of course I had nothing to worry about. The college profs both brought very accessible stuff -- an English cozy and a book that was an out-of-print memoir that could actually be a targeted at a younger audience. I realized that when they meant favorite books, they meant comfort books -- the things you rested your soul with.
Each book sparked discussions about other books -- and one woman confessed she'd had to plod through WUTHERING HEIGHTS, as she'd felt inclined to slap the characters. It was a refreshing let-your-hair-down sort of evening, with no pretensions and lots of sharing -- and I came away with at least five books I hadn't read, but definitely wanted to after their thumbs-up.
I recommended GODS IN ALABAMA, and read a favorite scene (where Arlene Fleet loses it during a bout of home-sickness in a Chicago Wal-Mart). They all listened, asked intelligent questions, and seemed to be genuinely intrigued by the book.
Oh, and my chicken salad? They went back for seconds.
So yanno what? Maybe I've just been letting the wrong people eat my cooking, and maybe I've been going to the wrong social events. Because I'd go back there in a heartbeat, and I'd bring my chicken salad.