The quieter, and dustier the better.
If I’m upset, I almost always end up sitting on the floor between a pair of big trusty shelves working my way through a pile of books. Ahh, silence. Books.
So, you can imagine my excitement when I realized that my apartment is only two blocks away from a massive Barnes & Noble! Granted, it’s so crowded it’s almost painful. But for the most part, it suffices.
I find myself there a lot these days. Sometimes just to read four or five magazines from cover to cover, put them back and leave without buying a thing. Sometimes I go to a random section and pull out the most ridiculous books I can find. (Note: avoid the Sexuality section of any New York City bookstore). But I always comb the “Staff Favorites” and Recommended Fiction” sections.
So, last week as I was taking my sweet time reading the good parts of all the books on one of the display tables, some Neanderthal punctures my bliss. Out of nowhere there is this man standing so close to me that I take a step back instinctively and grasp my bag.
In a fluid motion, unphased, he once again fills the space between us. He reaches for a book on the table, picks it up and says to me, “Read this instead. It’s much better.”
I can almost see my reflection in his shiny bald head.
“Oh really?” I ask. “Thanks.”
“Yeah, really good,” he says, fondling the book on the table.
“What are you reading?” he asks, still oh-so close to me.
“I Thought There Would Be Cake,” I reply.
I close the book and show him the cover. I realize how simultaneously ridiculous and fitting this is. Then he puts his hand on my hand. Some kind of sneaky black magic allows him to slither even closer to me.
Now I can see the chest hairs peeking out of his too-stylish shirt. His pecs are too big. I’m nauseous.
“Do you like cake?” he asks me.
“I love cake,” I respond.
Still touching my hand. I’m sweating. Now other people are watching.
“I don’t eat cake but I’ll make you the most delicious cake,” he tells me.
My love for cake overrides the instinct to flee. “You don’t like cake? I ask.
Shut up, Meghan!
“No, I can’t eat that stuff if I want to look like this,” he says and picks up a book that happens to have a picture of the statue of David on its cover. (How convenient). “I need all my energy to keep up with a girl like you. You look like a girl who needs a lot of energy to keep up with.”
Well, that line took the cake. Or, not Mr. Cassanova, perhaps the protein shake if you prefer?
Now I’m turning red. He needs to get out of my face.
“So I’ll call you,” he says.
The man is dense.
“Oh you will? I’m sure” I say coldly and shake his meaty hand off of mine.
“So are we getting coffee or not?” he asks.
Getting closer again!
“You know,” I lie, “I have a boyfriend. Sorry.”
“So, I’ll still call you,” the monkey responds.
“No, really, NO THANKS,” I say and turn my back to him.
He makes a little tutting sound with his tongue and walks away.
I try my best to get back to the book in my hands, but as I open it up again I feel foolish. I can feel his eyes still on me from the other side of the table.
I pick up another book, turn my back to him and try my hardest to concentrate on it. But I can’t. The cherished serenity I always feel at bookstores is gone. All of a sudden I realized that I was in public, I was still prey, and not everyone was there to worship at the altar of literature along with me.
So I put the book down, walked by him in a huff and almost jogged out of the store. I continued to jog all the way to my apartment, disgusted that someone could ruin my bookstore time like that.
And the part that annoyed me the most about this baboon was not that he had hit on me, but that he wasn’t attractive. Not in the least! I could have let the aggressiveness slide if he had hair, was 10 years younger, and had maybe read a book in his life!
Ugh, men. Why couldn’t he have hit on the girl who was there for the same reason he was: to get some? Instead he picked me, the innocent, and slightly down trodden 22 year old who was looking to escape everything about the world that he embodied.
If I can’t find peace and quiet in a bookstore, can’t I at least find my soul mate?