This is SO embarrassing. Worse than that time when I was fourteen and got caught checking out a cute guy from across a dimly lit restaurant—unaware that he was MY COUSIN (I said it was dimly lit, did I not?). More embarrassing than the time when my cheap Old Navy flip-flop snapped open while I was shopping with my mom and the kids and I had to “walk” all the way to the shoe store at the other end of the mall, dragging my foot like one of those zombies in the Thriller video (because I’d rather look like a deranged moron than put my bare tootsies on the floor of some public place).
This is way worse.
Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve sort of been …stalking people. Ahhhh!!! I know! Don’t run away screaming, I’m totally harmless. I won’t be climbing into your bedroom window to sing you lullabies tonight (unless you ask really nicely). But if you bump into me at Barnes and Noble, or the library, of even the tiny book section at Target (Holla to the bullseye!) beware. I may seem like a normal girl (OK, woman. Whatever) but I’m really kind of weird.
I pretend to be totally engrossed in the back cover I’m perusing, but I’m actually multi-tasking. First and foremost I’m mentally checking off every book I’ve read. Oh Matched? Check. The Disreutable History of Frankie Landau Banks? Oh Dog, check that. Hunger Games Trilogy? Check (That counts for three points! Score!), The Truth About Forever? Check and sa-woon! Along For the Ride? Check and double score for Dessen. How many is that on this shelf? (Yes, I’m a loser. ) Then, of course, I’m making a list in my head of all the books I need to read and, in truth, I sometimes get a tiny bit stressed out at the sheer volume of novels I must read as opposed to the ones I’ve already read. I mean, there are just so many good books out there and only so much time. With so many To Reads how will I have enough time to obsessively re-read all of The Princess Diaries books over and over and
dream about Michael Moscovitz ponder their charming wit?
So once I finish counting and stressing I notice something out of the corner of my eye. It’s a person approaching the section I’m in. They seem a little lost. Maybe they want something but they aren’t quite sure what that something is. Or they’re buying a gift for their girlfriend/daughter/niece and clearly have no idea what to do. I watch them quietly at first, casually counting and skimming covers even though inside I’M DYING. My heart is fluttering. My breathing is getting kind of rapid. I want to butt in. I want to put in my two cents. But I act cool. I act like I’m searching for something too, even though I am totally obsessed with what they’re picking up, breathing in a sharp intake of breath when they pick up certain books. Trying SO hard not to scream “Nooooooooooo!”. Clinging to my last shreds of sanity as they consider a new title, until I finally blurt out something almost indecipherable like “Omigodilovethatbookhaveyoureadititssoooogood!”
Some people welcome the knowledgeable yet accessible way in which I conduct myself (ahem. Just go with it, OK?). It’s like I’ve thrown them a life-preserver as they drown in a sea of stories about vampires and wolves and books with pouty girls sneering from their covers. I’m not just some dork hovering in the book store. Oh no. I’m like a superhero of useless information, your personal guide to finding jewels in the crapstorm of today’s literature. Or something like that.
Sadly, some people are kind of weirded out by my need to lead others to the Mecca of Good Swoon. They look me up and down as if I might possibly attack them in the NEW IN PAPERBACK section. They’re suspicious of me as I oh-so-casually peer over their shoulder to see what they’re considering. They’re totally onto me as I tune my ears into their conversation about what in the hell their daughter might want to read. A fairy book, maybe? (NOOOOOOO!)
I’ve talked to a couple of “book people” who say this syndrome is fairly normal, but what do they know? They’re probably stalkers too. Then I asked my hubby, the one person who thinks the world of me (other than my kids who think I’m the shizz thanks to my careful brainwashing). He said, “Do I think it’s weird that you follow people around the bookstore and act like you’re not? Um, yeah.” So that was helpful.
Anyway, the point is I’m not really a stalker. I mean, yeah, I’ll spy on you and eavesdrop on your conversation, hoping you won’t notice me—or better yet, hoping you’ll ask for my opinion on your impending purchase —but that doesn’t mean I’m stalking you. I won’t follow you home or anything (unless you want to start a book club. Then, yay!) I just want to be all up in your book business while hoping you don’t notice. Totally normal, right?