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Count me Amish

December 29, 2009

Friends:

I’m about to read an Amish bodice ripper.

It’s high time I put away those out-of-date Economists I save to pretend to read on the plane, and pull out a book that tells it like it is. Like it is where there is no TV, no pesky current events.

Amish women are buying these books and reading them under the covers. Wait: that doesn’t make sense. Are they allowed flashlights? Where are their husbands? What other choices of reading material do they have?  The Economist: not likely.  I’ll wager they don’t go for People, much less its lowbrow cousin and my own favorite, Us. Pretty darn sure they don’t have the New Yorker, though one never knows.  They might like it if they read it.

Why don’t they read Anna Karenina? For that matter, why don’t I?

I open my first bonnet book and I do not find it interesting. I’m not sure I would read it even if I were paid to, though it would depend on the sum.  I sift through the first few pages and the middle part as if shuffling a deck of cards, hoping to find a sizzling passage or two that will unravel the mystery. Naturally I’m thinking: wouldn’t my time be better spent chipping away at an old New Yorker, or cracking open an unread Economist?  You know. That’s the kind of overactive intellectual conscience I have to live with every day.

Twenty minutes into it, I find the book an oddly comforting refuge. Dark things happen to those who are not Amish: lying, drinking, stealing, beating, stalking, car accidents, and mortal illness. The Amish are stern but the world they inhabit is cosy, peopled with strapping young men hoisting children into buggies and pretty young women tucking flyaway hair back into their bonnets. There are warm beds, plenty of people to sleep in them, and lots of plates of chicken, deviled eggs and cake.

I’ve caught the bonnet fever. Remind me again why would I want to read instead about the latest Treasury scandal, theatre review, gallery opening, or flu pandemic? A huge expenditure of time and wit, and I’d be no more clever at a cocktail party than the next person.

The writing might be good. Satisfying. I’d learn a thing or two, I’m sure. If I were stuck somewhere — say, at the beach, in jail or in a hospital bed, I’d devour it.

But I’m several weeks late picking it up and the magazine seems too heavy to lift. Then it dawns on me: maybe the fun is that everyone reads it at the same time as everyone else and if you miss your chance it is like missing a very fast train. There will be another. When that one comes you think: why bother? I may as well stand here, watch the trains go by, and amuse my own self.  Better yet — I’ll hire someone to cut out the cartoons and poems, and read them at my leisure.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jim Kvasnicka permalink
    November 15, 2011 6:56 am

    Good wit, Ms Gazzolo.

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