Your Reading Offends Me

This is getting coldYesterday, while enjoying a slice of pizza in a to-be-unnamed but popular pizza joint in Hoboken, I was happily reading David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, when a familiar man, also to be unnamed, remarked to me in a heavy Greek accent, “Your pizza’s going to get cold.” This clean-trimmed and moustached man I knew from photos to be the owner of this to-be-unnamed restaurant. Quickly, I glanced around, surmising that perhaps I was taking up space in his crowded restaurant. But no, that wasn’t the case, as several nearby tables were open, and my two-top was nicely hidden in the corner. Plus it was near 3pm. Hardly the busiest time of day.

The man sat directly to my left and after he said these ambiguously threatening words I found it difficult to get absorbed back into my book because I frequent this pizza place and didn’t want to offend the moustached owner, plus his gaze directly fell upon me as I was eating/reading. I did try a paragraph though to no avail.

“What’s this?” he said, gesturing up to the TV screen hung near the ceiling. “I don’t recognize the flags.”

I had to twist my neck awkwardly around a corner just to glimpse the TV. “World Cup Baseball or something like that,” I said, figuring this was some kind of weak tactic to get my eyes away from the book.

“Oh, I see. Lobsters,” he said. “High in cor-estr-ah-ol.”

“Huh?” I said repeatedly. “I’m not understanding.”

“Cholesterol.”

“Oh,” I said. I looked down at my whole-milk mozzarella cheese pizza slice. “I don’t eat lobster.”

What ensued was a brief discussion about which countries actually have baseball teams. From my point of view it was not actually a conversation because I could not return his prepared sports aphorisms with witty rejoinders, nor did I share his (apparent) interest in the topic. My extent of modern baseball knowledge ended around 1987, and, truthfully, I just wanted to get back to reading my book.

But I finished my pizza with my book closed. I couldn’t read anymore. Who could after that?

I waddled over to the nearest coffee shop to sit down and finish reading. A girl who works there but was somehow not working at the time and yet strangely still wanted to be there, sat with me and let me listen to her iPod. She played Regina Spektor for me who I’d heard of but never heard. As the semi-employed girl went outside for a cigarette I sat there stunned as I listened. What kind of musical shit was I listening to? I have a Nellie McKay album and I like it, but there’s something uber-irritating about it where I can only listen to it when I’m in the brightest of moods. But I couldn’t figure out what was so uber-irritating about it. Yesterday I figured it out. It’s because Nellie McKay doesn’t take a damn thing seriously. Even the serious songs aren’t serious. Now, if you don’t know what I mean or want to know where I’m coming from, go get your iPod, sit in a coffee shop, and listen to “Consequence of Sounds” by Regina Spektor as you watch the people walk by outside the window. It will change your life.

I also sadly learned of another change. My much loved and often visited coffee shop has been purchased. No more endless loops of Latino music (I mean, come on, how many times can we listen to Buena Vista Social Club?) But now we are to expect them to start selling ice-cream. That would be around 10 stores that will now be selling ice-cream on Hoboken’s Washington Street, a strip that is about three quarters of a mile long. There must be a demand for this confection beyond my wildest reckoning (or, more likely, a bunch of eager and naive entrepreneurs are trying to capitalize on a market that, unbeknownst to them, is already highly saturated). Variety is supposedly the spice of life. Anyway, I hope I can still read my book there without offending.

One Reply to “Your Reading Offends Me”

  1. Hi, read this blog entry when I linked from Dred. Just wanted to say “lighten up, man!” I’ve been living in both hemispheres, and am myself an immigrant. I’ve seen superirritating people (even recently at a funeral I attended), who just wouldn’t shut up. But I’m okay with it. Know why? It’s not about anyone respecting your privacy. It’s about the Greek owner being friendly. He figures you go out to read because on some level you seek to socialize. And you’d lie if you said you didn’t. After all, you have your sleeping bunk in your corner of Hoboken, don’t you? Open yourself to the experience. If you do go out, you risk people sparking up a conversation with you about the subjects that interest them. You’re a writer. Soak it up!

Comments are closed.