You should date an illiterate girl ….


Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in the weary squalor of a Midwestern bar. Find her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love. Fuck her.

Let the anxious contract you’ve unwittingly written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like sushi, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale, or the evenings get long. Talk about nothing of significance. Do little thinking. Let the months pass unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her decorate. Get into fights about inconsequential things like how the fucking shower curtain needs to be closed so that it doesn’t fucking collect mold. Let a year pass unnoticed. Begin to notice.

Figure that you should probably get married because you will have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take her to dinner on the forty-fifth floor at a restaurant far beyond your means. Make sure there is a beautiful view of the city. Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass of champagne with a modest ring in it. When she notices, propose to her with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do not be overly concerned if you feel your heart leap through a pane of sheet glass. For that matter, do not be overly concerned if you cannot feel it at all. If there is applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile as if you’ve never been happier. If she doesn’t, smile all the same.

Let the years pass unnoticed. Get a career, not a job. Buy a house. Have two striking children. Try to raise them well. Fail, frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference. Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a mid-life crisis. Grow old. Wonder at your lack of achievement. Feel sometimes contented, but mostly vacant and ethereal. Feel, during walks, as if you might never return, or as if you might blow away on the wind. Contract a terminal illness. Die, but only after you observe that the girl who didn’t read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion, that no one will write the story of your lives, and that she will die, too, with only a mild and tempered regret that nothing ever came of her capacity to love.

Do those things, god damnit, because nothing sucks worse than a girl who reads. Do it, I say, because a life in purgatory is better than a life in hell. Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.

Do it, because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose bitter cynicism will run on, run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm and cadence of a life well lived.

Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.

Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. You with the Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the Woolf. You there in the library, on the platform of the metro, you in the corner of the café, you in the window of your room. You, who make my life so god damned difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied. So out with you, girl who reads. Take the next southbound train and take your Hemingway with you. I hate you. I really, really, really hate you

Originally written and published by Charles Warnke – see more of his stuff here ——->>  on 19 January 2011.

Tom Thumb and Ogres who eat Children

Last night I read Tom Thumb to my kids before bed.  First recognize that I am showing off that I found the time and some semblance of order to actually read to my kids before bed – so right there I get a gold star.

Tom Thumb is the smallest of seven kids : Right here we start to wonder is it because he is not getting sufficient nutrition and this has affected his growth. Did his mom smoke and drink heavily during her pregnancy?  Did she not have this boy checked regularly at the clinic?  Are his parents of a faith that does not condone birth control?  Can his mom just so no for once?

His parents realize that they do not have enough money to feed the children so decide to leave them in a forest nearby: Why could his dad not have got a second job, because clearly this woodcutter gig was not working out for him?  Surely if you can’t feed your kids, leaving them to starve to death or get ravished by animals in the middle of a dense wood does beg questions regarding your ability to parent and make mildly good decisions.

Tom, being the clever lad that he is, makes it home by dropping stones on the path.  All 7 kids get home and the parents are disappointed as they will have to take them out to the woods again tomorrow: I really was amazed at this turn in the story.  Surely if you have dropped your kids off in the woods to die, you are not just going to skip home and go to sleep.  Surely you are going to drink a little, maybe be a little depressed, nope not these two.  Mr and Ms Thumb are cut from a very resilient cloth.

On the next jaunt into the woods, Tom leaves bread crumbs as a track back to his house: He unfortunately did not learn anything from his mate Hansel (which might further allude to his mom drinking while she was pregnant with him, which may be the cause of his not-so-fast-learning speed.) No crumbs = no way to get home  Tom his 6 siblings can’t get home, so knock on the door to a house out in the forest.  Again clearly Tom and Hansel are not Facebooking  or Twittering each other.  Tom has no idea that a house in the middle of the woods often spells doom and the sound of children being eaten.

Cut a long story short, there is an Ogre who eats kids (I can’t believe this is what we read to our kids when we are trying to get them to go to sleep – night terrors begin here).  The Ogre has magic boots so in one step he can go seven leagues (no I do not know how far seven leagues is, but I imagine pretty far).  Tom  steals the boots, him and his siblings escape and run back to his parents. The same parents who abandoned them twice!!

Said parents are really happy to see Tom (and his magic boots) so happy in fact that they send him out to be the Kings Messenger – as the boots allow Tom to travel quickly.  The book ends with a happy picture of Tom who is holding lots of money.

What the hell happened in this story?

  • Parents abandoned kids twice.
  • Children went into a stranger’s house and ate food.
  • Ogre-who-eats-kids came home and chased kids.
  • Ogre fell asleep – as you do when you are chasing kids.
  • Smallest child steals boots and take siblings back home to parents.
  • Parents send youngest off to work to support the family

The issues I have with this book are: bad parenting, abandoning children, lazy parenting, no internet access for youngest, threat of being ravished by wild animals, stranger-danger, stealing from others and child labour.

    I am  planning to read Cinderella next …..