Third Wednesday is book group, which means dinner beforehand at Tina’s, one of the highlights of my month. She has the perfect touch in the kitchen, crafting wonderful meals from simple ingredients. Her home is quiet, calm, beautiful. There, I exhale.
We then spend a couple of hours with the erudite folks in our intellectual book group, whose breadth of scholarship far exceeds mine. I’m a relative newcomer to this decades-old cadre of literature-lovers, and I’m still re-learning how to read for criticism, not just for pleasure. Thus I’m frequently quiet at these meetings, having few unique insights on the month’s book, though I’m delighted to absorb the percipience of others.
But tonight I had plenty to say about Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast, having once been married to a man somewhat like Allie Fox, and having gone off with him ‘into the wilderness’ with a baby in tow, long ago. I well know the charm of a charismatic apocalyptist. The motives and fears of the nameless mother in the story excited a little passion in me. And who can deny the truth in some of Allie’s words?
We eat when we’re not hungry, drink when we’re not thirsty. We buy what we don’t need and throw away everything that’s useful. Why sell a man what he wants? Sell him what he doesn’t need. Pretend he’s got eight legs and two stomachs and money to burn. It’s wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Afterwards, our elderly French matriarch approached and took my hands, asking more questions about my life and saying how glad she was to know me. I felt awkward and a little abashed. I’m not comfortable in the spotlight, but it did feel good to make a contribution. I slipped away home as quickly as I could.
Tomorrow I go back to my job in advertising, helping to sell a man what he doesn’t need. Returning to homesteading sounds pretty good right now.