By Lonnie Cruse
Recently I was standing in the lobby of a local hospital, waiting for hubby to catch up after he thoughtfully dropped me off at the door before searching for a parking spot. We were on our way to sit with friends while a member of their family had delicate open heart surgery. Thankfully the surgery went well. Back to the point of this post.
As I stood there, I glanced around and noticed two people on a nearby couch in a public waiting area. One was chatting non-stop, the other was reading a large trade paperback book, with another small spiral bound resting on the lap. Possibly a notebook to make notes in? Whatever, this was one serious reader who kept a finger on the line read so as not to lose place when the chatterer managed to drag the reader's attention away from the book. Which didn't happen all that often.
It occured to me that the chatterer was courting serious injury with the constant flow of interruption, and possibly it occured to the chatterer too, as the chatter finally ground to a halt due to, one presumes, lack of response on the part of the reader. I was dying to know what the reader was reading, but I know better than to interrupt a serious reader. Particularly a serious reader already busy ignoring a constant chatterer.
Yes, I had a paperback tucked in my purse at that moment, Tamar Myers' PARSLEY, SAGE, ROSEMARY, AND CRIME, and no, I didn't start reading it as soon as we located our friends in the waiting room. I commisserated with them for the better part of three hours before I slid the book surepticiously out of my bag and slunk down into my chair to read. Having said all they had to say, our friends left me in peace. Lucky for them.
I try to be polite and not read in company, but IF I'm reading in my very own house or in the car and hubby begins a conversation, my first thought is (a) can't he see that I'm reading, followed closely by (b) this had better be important, if not downright urgent.
How about you? How dedicated a reader are you, particularly in public? Can you shut out the rest of the noise? Can you ignore someone trying to talk to you, who, let's face it, really should have learned better manners? Do you lose track of your place? Do you put the book away, force a fake smile on your face, and act like you really care, all the while (if you are a writer as well as a reader) plotting how you can kill this person off in your next book?
And by the way, in case you were wondering, the chatterer AND the reader were both male. Still, that's no excuse, is it?