When I was teaching, I used to give a true/false quiz in the very first minute of class, all about myself. Besides the sadistic thrill of telling my honors classes it would “definitely count” (and never smiling) it was an easy way to get new classes seated and quiet, and then force them learn all about the most important thing in the room. I don’t actually remember what a typical score on this 10 question quiz looked like, most teenagers are exactly as dumb as they look when it comes to thinking practically or making inferences on an adult level. But I do remember one question that nearly always threw them:
True | False: Mrs. Wait enjoys staying up late at night reading books.
Of course they all assume that because I teach English I must love to read. (Fact.) And many of them who knew me or knew of me had heard for a long time that I did not own a TV. (Fact, for my first 2 years of teaching.) So naturally, most assumed that this meant I was up till the wee hours indulging my brain in the classics. (Opinion.)
The truth is, I’ve never been one who could read in bed (or really even on a couch for that matter, no matter what time of day it is, unless it is the couch in Starbucks, et. al.) and I’ve also never been one to sit down and read an entire book in one sitting.* I do like reading. And if I had my way, I would read a lot more, but as it is, perfect conditions have not presented themselves with regularity since I was in college. When I was teaching, Fridays were mandatory 45-minutes-of-silent-reading-in-my-classroom days, which allowed to me read about 7 books a semester (imagine, silent reading three times a day!), and when I commuted 30 minutes one way to work, I read several audiobooks in the car.
So despite my current lack of cable TV and the fact that I can basically be home, all day, if I want, the only time I really read anymore is at the gym. Yes, truthfully, I enjoy the couches in the lobby (and have been since my Gold’s Gym coffee and reading time LAST summer) but if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll actually pedal a stationary bike and drink water with my book. For my $30 a month membership, what do I care whether I actually get a “work out” or not? This is $1 a day babysitting people. And there’s coffee.
I’m currently in the middle of Tina Fey’s book Bossypants.
Yeah, okay, it’s mostly funny.
I might have actually snorted and shot water out of my nose and onto the heart rate monitors yesterday.
So naturally, the kindhearted and friendly folks at the Jerry Long YMCA are curious. What could she possibly be reading that has her so giggly? On a stationary bike no less!?
Every single time someone asks me, “What are you reading,” and I explain that it’s Tina Fey’s book and “Yes, it’s pretty funny, if you think Tina Fey is funny,” I feel like I’m doing anyone over the age of 50 (which most of them have been, so far) a disservice by my failure to include the disclaimer: “But I might actually suffer from the maturity of a 13 year old.”
Today, on a small couch in the lobby, one social-security recipient asked, “Who do you think would enjoy that book more, me or my wife?”
Well that depends, sir. How much does your wife enjoy fart jokes?
I’m not about to explain that as I read Tina Fey’s book I feel like I completely understand her because SHE IS ME. Or I’m her, or whatever. But as I’ve said in the past, when I identify myself with a famous female sense of humor, Tina Fey immediately comes to mind. If I wrote a book, I’d probably do a little less name-dropping and butt kissing (I gather that her self-deprecating humor comes from a true sense of insecurity and not a feigned one), but I’m not sure that I’d do any less bathroom humor.
I do think what a person finds truly humorous does say a lot about that person and I’ve only found myself embarrassed of my sense of humor in front of a handful of people (Christian school administration comes to mind). But today at the gym, I simply couldn’t go on reading and giggling and promoting this book, knowing that this kind, conservative man, who was probably somebody’s grandfather might one day be privy to exactly what I was laughing at, and shudder.
Sorry people. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Farts are funny.
* With the exception of one book, Ender’s Game, which is exactly how I recommend it as my favorite book: it is the only book I’ve ever read in one sitting, as well as the first book I ever re-read, and the one book I’ve read the most times.