Was able to go to a bookstore after six months, and it was delightful. Of course I dutifully filled-up a contact tracing form with my complete details using sanitized pens from the sanitized bin of pens–I didn’t mind, I was just thrilled to have reading options again. The past few months I’ve been trying to re-read the old books that I’ve given up on multiple times, only to give up again. For instance, I’ve been trying to crack Anna Karenina for 12 years, but still couldn’t get past page 90. I can’t recall how many times I’ve read the opening line “happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. Sometimes you just have to accept… defeat.
Prominently displayed in the lobby of Fully Booked was the soft cover edition of In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, and Hypocrisy by Frederic Martel. I saw the tradebook edition last year and it immediately caught my eye, not necessarily because of the controversial title, but because I thought it was written by Rick “The Model” Martel, a professional wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation back in the 80’s! Rick Martel was a heel, which, in wrestling parlance, means a villain. A “heel turn” pertains to that particular moment when a “good guy”, aka “face”, turns to the dark side. Examples of infamous heel turns that depressed the crap out of me as a child were when Shawn Michaels kicked his partner Marty Janety into the barbershop window of Brutus the Barber Beefcake, and when Crush suddenly became Kona Crush for no reason whatsoever! Maybe he got insane when the malevolent Doink The Clown assisted by the pesky Dink kept on winning their matches!
I browsed a few more intriguing titles, and though many of them were quite tempting I wasn’t really in the mood for anything harrowing. So I bought Over The Edge of the World by Laurence Bergreen. The title proudly announces that it’s about Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe, and I was raring for some great adventure. The back cover also promises lots of sex and violence.
As expected there were very few people in the bookstore. I saw a cackling wide-eyed guy clutching a huge hard cover graphic novel looking madly ecstatic, and I judged him to be a pale basement dweller who has just managed to crawl out into the world. Judging bookstore patrons based on appearance, of course, is mean. It is shameful. Back in college when National Bookstore was still selling a lot of books, I saw a very thin guy in his twenty’s wearing a tattered shirt and faded baggy pants. He had a dirty bimpo hanging from his back pocket. He was garbed in… oh let’s cut to the chase he looked like a jej adik na tambay sa kanto I’m mean I know but we all know that look! The guy then walked over to the shelf and started reading… Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen! This put me to shame.
How dare I, a college student at the time, judge this guy based on appearances, when he was reading a classic that I haven’t even read myself, for all my claims of being erudite and well-read! How dare I, a Catholic, look down on this person, when the Scriptures clearly say that thou shalt noth….
“Potah wala talaga akong interes sa mga ganyang libro!” the jej adik na tambay sa kanto suddenly yelled as he threw the book back at the shelf!
I guess sometimes you really can judge, I thought, as my eyebrow shot to orbit.
Hahaha! The judgmental eye is what physicians refer to as the “clinical eye.” There is value to stereotypes—they form the foundation of accurate clinical diagnoses.
Also: Anna Karenina is a mammoth of a novel. It is best read in intervals, interrupted by shorter, lighter works. But as with most works of art—if it is not to your liking, find another! “Over the Edge of the World” sounds fun!
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