Books and simple pleasures

Here’s something I wrote 16 years ago on an old moribund forum, and just rediscovered today…

One of the pleasures I used to share with my wife, when she was my wife and when we shared pleasures, was reading aloud to her. Many years ago, very shortly after we were married, I started off with Door Into Summer, my personal favorite Heinlein. She was skeptical at first, not being interested in scifi. But it’s a delightful light read, intricate without being crazy making. It’s not really scifi at all except in the most technical sense, has some great dialogue, and a prologue that for me defines the art of prologue-writing. But I digress. She liked it.

There were many books over the years, but our favorite was The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I must have read that one three or four times, often just doing scenes. “Read the duel on the Cliffs of Insanity.” “Sure thing.”

Around the time Daughter was hitting toddlerhood, my reading-to-wife years were coming to a close. But that was sort of all right, since my reading-to-daughter years were just beginning. And next to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, TPB was her all-time favorite. When Mom brought home a copy of the movie, daughter drove me crazy with it for months.

But that was a long time ago. Daughter is nearly grown now. She spends most of her time working, or out with Ari the Boyfriend and friends, and I don’t see much of her any more. Soon she’ll be off. My days of reading to ladies are pretty much over, and it’s the least pleasant part of my transition to solitude. Daughter still loves TPB, and has a ratty hardbound edition that I asked to borrow a few days ago since I hadn’t read it in some time.

Last night daughter got home around 8:30 and came into my room, while I was sitting in my PJs watching an old movie. She seemed reluctant to leave, and I certainly wasn’t going to shoo her off even though I was getting sleepy. (I’m an early riser.) She saw her book sitting on my nightstand.

“How’s the book?” she asked, nonsensically.

“Wonderful as always,” I said. “I’m just starting the beginning of Fezzik’s story.”

She sat for a moment. “So how come the book tells Fezzik’s story, and Inigo’s story, but not Vizzini’s?”

“I don’t know. It just goes straight to the battle of wits.” I turned off the TV and picked up the book. Opening to the marked section, I skipped a few pages ahead.

“Vizzini was waiting for him,” I said. “Indeed, he had set out a little picnic spread. From the knapsack that he always carried, he had taken a small handkerchief and on it he had placed two wine goblets. In the center was a small leather wine holder and, beside it, some cheese and some apples. The spot could not have been lovelier; a high point of the mountain path with a splendid view all the way back to Florin Channel. Buttercup lay helpless beside the picnic, gagged and tied and blindfolded. Vizzini held his long knife against her white throat.”

Daughter sighed and stretched out on my bed beside my chair. All too soon Vizzini breathed his last and the Man in Black revealed the secret (well known to us both, of course) of how the battle of wits was won before it ever began. Then she said good night and went to her own room.

For those few minutes she was little again, and I was happy.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to Books and simple pleasures

  1. Wayne Dygert says:

    Read this and fell into a reverie of reading to my daughter and son. Good memories

  2. Judy says:

    I think the best part of being a parent was reading to my children.

  3. John in Philly says:

    I’m overdue for a rereading. Good reminder.

    “I’m not left-handed either.”

  4. coloradohermit says:

    I have wonderful memories of Dad reading to me as a child. He wouldn’t read the children’s Golden books but chose to read me Kipling’s Just So Stories and Aesop’s fables. In a college lit class, I was the only one who had heard of Icarus and Daedalus. Good good memories.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What a poignant memory. Hope your daughter sees it so she is reminded there were good times between you and her Mother. I read to my husband everyday! Life is good! And I predict that this year you WILL harvest pears

To the stake with the heretic!