Thursday, March 5, 2009

124 - When people pretend to read to avoid interaction with you

I once sat beside a girl who had the amazing ability to reply to my inquisitions while holding in her hand and reading H.R. Wells' War of the Worlds. I, too, have the capability of multitasking. In fact, just today, I was able to have my lunch with a book in my hand. This was a self-help book, in fact, aimed at improving a reader's vocabulary, and upon seeing my book, my classmates asked what it was about.

This prompted about forty minutes of open-minded and open-ended discussion about the intriguing differences between American and British English, the etymologies of those long, difficult words, who and whom, me or I, spoonsful or spoonfuls, and several other difficult grammatical dilemmas. I think my classmates, like me, were enlightened by the chapter of my book I got through today, and they became more aware of some of the improper idiosyncrasies of common English usage today. Isn't that great?

But I digress.

The point of that was, I could read while talking to others and having my lunch. I've seen other people do it, too, anybody can multitask if they're willing to be the social creature that they're meant to be. If you think pretending to read can fool me, sorry, I'm not that gullible. Your eyes aren't moving on the page, you're stealing quick glances at me to see if I'm still there, you're either taking too long or too short of a time to turn the pages, it's obvious you're listening to every single word I say, plus: you look nervous. Transparent as cling-film, you are.

I hate it when people pretend to read, to avoid people because they don't have the guts to be honest, and/or to evade serious, sensitive and/or emotionally difficult conversations.

You say you're sparing my feelings by not having these heart-to-heart talks?

You hurt me everyday by avoiding them. Please tell me what's wrong, before the past few years all effectively amount to nothing.


J.J. in L.A. said...

I do this with my sis-in-law because if I had to talk to her, I'd end up telling her what I really think of her.

LittleJ said...

I used to have to - when we couldn't afford babysitters - go to the mall with my mom. She used to shop, and I used to walk behind her with a book in my hand. I loved it when she went into shoe shops 'cause of the couches.

Cling-film is pretty transparent, but it doesn't last, and it does get all bunched up on itself when you're done with it.

Michael said...

J.J.: What do you think of her?

Sarah: I had to mention you. (I'd like my War of the Worlds back, please, if you haven't already returned it.) I rarely see people in my class read. :(

Douglas said...

Ah, to be young! I used to be able to multitask in that way but, now, no longer can. I can still work on multiple things but the ability to shift from book to conversation and back isn't so easy. I lose my place in each, I find I must play closer attention to the spoken word. This affects my ability to watch a TV show and read at the same time also (something I used to do quite often). But I realize that not everyone is capable of this, even in youth, so use some discretion.

yolanda said...

i remember one time i was on the train and there was this old swiss guy sitting across from me. now, i don't discriminate against people because of their age, or nationality, but the guy COULDN'T SPEAK ENGLISH, and yet he was relentless in his attempts to converse with me! he put me so on edge that i genuinely could not read my book, even though i really wanted to, and i ended up being one of those people, sitting staring at the same page with glazed eyes. eventually i gave up and pretended i was getting off the train.

brilliantly written post by the way :)

Hail To The Thief said...

I don't pretend to read to avoid contact, but if I have a book with me in a public place I usually start reading; I'm so bad in social situations with strangers.

Madame DeFarge said...

I regard contact with others as an enlightening experience, I'm educating them. Obviously, I get nothing out of it, but I think it's the least that I can do to spread my great intellect around the place. Or something like that.

Multi-tasking is a marvellous way of avoiding finishing anything, including friendships.

LittleJ said...

yes yes yes, I still have your War of the Worlds. We haven't seen each other in ages, m'dear, and I have a horrible memory for remembering to return things :).
I read my first fiction book of year 13 two weeks ago... I miss reading

Ares said...

Sometimes I do this. When I'm not feeling well to do some chores, I do it to piss my housemates off. I'd keep on saying, "later!" and they'd keep on waiting till midnight.