Saturday, August 27, 2011

30 More Days Book Challenge: Day 18

Day 18: Strangest Place You've Read a Book

I once read a book in the parking lot of a fundamentalist church at 11:45 pm after a Kathy Griffin performance in Austin while I waited for a guy to change my tire after I ran over what looked like shrapnel.  Book lovers read everywhere.


I will get right to it. The strangest place I have ever read a book is in a public library. Well...more specifically: in the bathroom of a public library. Yep, about twice a week I would go to the library, go through the six books on gay and lesbian culture, take one down and go hide in a bathroom stall to read it.  [I'm here, I'm queer, I'm proud of it?]

Oh, sure I had tried the book-behind-a-book, but it stressed me out to no end. The bathroom gave me a sense of privacy where I could read The Well of Loneliness or various Rita Mae Brown titles. I expanded my reading from here. I found Gertrude and Alice, Jane Rule’s “classic” Desert of the Heart (which was made into a “classic” film called Desert Hearts starring Mrs. Roper), Orlando by Woolf, Lillian Hellman (who I became slightly obsessed with) and I devoured everything by lesbian icon, Danielle Steel. I mean Quentin Crisp (I always get those two confused). [I'm sure that happens frequently.]

Anyway, that’s my odd place that I read, the bathroom of our public library. In other words I hadn’t yet come across anything called “gay pride.”

Kids today don’t know how good they have it. They can just sit and read Danielle Steel wherever they want.


When I was a senior in college, my father decided that we should take a family vacation.  Fine, right?  Except that he decided that we should go the week of Thanksgiving.  Never mind that both my sister and I were knee deep in end of semester projects.  Forget about that thesis that wouldn't write itself--we needed to go to Washington DC and reconnect!  I packed twelve books for that five day trip, not to mention the notebooks, and pens, and crap like clothing.

The "high point" of the trip was the jaunt over to Colonial Williamsburg for Thanksgiving itself.  First, it was cold.  Second, 90% of the place was closed, and the few buildings that were open were the places where testicle-scratching "peasants" were insisting that women cook them their mutton and such.  I was not amused.  Eventually, tired of my outrage, my father suggested that I wait outside, and that's exactly what I did.  I sat outside, on a metal bench in 35 degree weather, reading the book shoved in my coat pocket, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  The whole scene made for a memorable story in my Women's Studies class the following week, even if the book-imitating-life parallels were lost on my father.

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