Monday, June 30, 2008

Smack-down Inbetween Wars and Christianity

So Friday around 3 PM, I realized that I would be on my own after work. The kids were at Grandma's and Mr. Right had to work late so I wouldn't see him until around 8ish that night. I wanted to find something to do that had nothing to do with packing because I am tired of packing. In other words, I wanted to get out.

Here's the problem with getting out: I couldn't spend any money. Since we're moving in the next few weeks, we have to spend carefully because when we're at the closing for our house, we don't want to lose the house because we've just blown our money on something ridiculous. Well, that and we want to make sure that we have plenty to cover our closing costs. This house buying stuff is hard, y'all! Anyway, I'm stressing more than I should, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Go for a walk? Well, I'd been doing that every night with Mr. Right, so I wanted to do something different. Besides, I didn't really think a two hour walk would be all that fun.

Go to the library and rent a movie? We've been seeing quite a few movies lately. I was ready for some other form of entertainment.

Window shop? Ummm, unless I could get a lobotomy in the next hour, I didn't think I would enjoy that activity too much. Besides, there were too many things on my "I need to buy for the new house" list. I was afraid that I might find a great deal that I couldn't pass up, if you know what I mean.

So I pulled an old standby that I haven't done in a loooooong time. I went to Barnes and Nobles to peruse the books. Oh how I miss the smell of new books! Though I might want to make purchases there, I could easy avoid doing so by thinking about how I would have to pack it if I bought it.

Low and behold, guess what I saw was finally published! The fourth in the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz - Odd Hours. How exciting to read about the odd one! This series has been thrilling, fabulous, funny and endearing since the first book, Odd Thomas.

I plopped myself down in last chair - a comfy chairs too! - which was located between War and Christianity and delved into the mysterious life of Odd. Now here is a series that I think portrays characterization at its best, storylines that compell you to turn the pages because you must know what happens next and creates emotional investments that make the reader care about the outcome. Excellent reads for all. (If you start on this series, DO start at the beginning. If you don't start with Odd Thomas, you'll find out things you don't want to know from the previous books. Me? I like the elements of surprise. It's part of what makes the books so good.)

Anyway, about an hour into my reading, a young woman sat in a straight chair next to me. How did I know she was coming? I could hear her flip-flopping 20 feet away from where the chairs were. (That's one of the reasons I dislike flip-flops. They can be so loud! Note: This next statement does not apply to ALL flip-flop lovers. Save your hate comments. It's as if certain wearers can't make themselves known any other way so they make as much noise as they can so that others take note of them. Annoying, however, is the notice I usually take.)

Even if this person weren't wearing flip-flops, she still had a way to make her presence known for she was chomping gum like a cow. She wasn't chewing it; she was torturing that piece of gum with a very extended, open-mouthed jaw. Smacking, popping, slurping... completely rude in a group of readers, in my opinion. It's not as if we joined her; she joined us, the quiet group that was extending courtesy to each other by letting them enjoy their reading in peace.

As she kept smacking and blowing, I could feel my annoyance-meter starting to bounce toward "Critical" levels. I tried to ignore her, to get into my book fully, but all the sounds were starting to drive me crazy. How could someone be so selfish and unaware that her actions were disturbing other around her? As I would looked at her, my eyes darted to the other readers in the chair group. They kept looking at her with annoyance too. So it wasn't just me being picky or irrational - whew.

I told myself to move as far away as I could from her in my chair, to block the sounds, to enjoy Odd. The next thing I heard was someone saying, "Would you mind not making so much noise?" I thought, Finally someone told her to knock it off, all right!

When the young woman turned her dark look on me, I realized that it was me who uttered the question. I surprised even myself. The girl glared, started to say something, but returned to the celebrity pages while chewing her gum with her mouth closed. Well, good for me. It needed to be said.

One of the readers in the group had a cell phone that rang. He promptly set his books down, got up from the comfy chair and answered it away from the group. He understood the need to be polite in a setting of strangers. He didn't go far, just far enough to have his conversation without disturbing the readers.

But I watched with half disgust/half fascination as the gum-chomping girl quickly gathered her fashion magazines and stole his chair. I was shocked at such a bold move, but only just for a moment. It was a very fitting move for all the discourteous characterization that she was showing already.

The man came back in less than a minute, looking at his occupied seat. She at least had the awareness to ask non-chalantly if he wantrd his seat back, to which he graciously demurred. I could already tell that the man was nicer than me. The young woman was already looking camped in the seat and I wondered what body language she would have shown had he said yes. I have a feeling much sighing and gestures of irritation would have ensued.

Irked on the man's part yet glad to have Smackers one seat further away, I continued reading. Smackers continued smacking, as she seemed completely unable to control her habit, and we all settled into a calm. But suddenly, Iron Jaws took out an insert from the magazine, spit her gum into it and folded it over. Relief at last!

Imagine my horror when she moved from bending to the table to bending to her behemoth bag, grabbing two more sticks of gum and popping them into her mouth. Sigh. It started all over again. My eyes moved to one of my seatmates; he lifted his eyebrows in amazement, rolled his eyes at her continued need to chew and gave me a little half-smile with a side of shrug to say, "Some people have mommas who didn't teach them manners." I couldn't agree more.

A few minutes later, Mr. Right came strolling to where I was sitting. We left a little bit later to the sanctity of a smack-free house. Besides, I think I needed to talk to God about finding a way to move not only my chair, but also my heart, closer towards Christianity.

(Oh, and Odd Hours was really good, despite the gum interruptions. If you need a great summer series, then I urge you to try the Odd Thomas series. It's that good.)

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