Thoughts for Food


Thinking about how I first came to love words, my mind gravitates toward the usual “I’d like to thank,” list. My Mom, Mr. Kruse, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Jaunet, English I, and Mr. Burt, senior English. They encouraged my aptitude and created the right environments for growth. When did I develop a taste for words? I still try to remember the first snacks. Wishbone Classics. How else should a third grader dive into Charles Dickens? I joined the Wishbone fan club and received my plush dog wearing a tuxedo as reward for my loyalty. Like most curious young children, I stretched that tux around my cat. She looked great. Like an irked Oscar Wilde with deep-seated contempt and a knowing cat squint en route to a soirée. My mother would say I give the cat too much credit. I say better to overestimate than underestimate. After wishbone, there was a reading gap filled with a fuzzy idea of what I may have read: most likely excerpts and required reading until about the sixth grade. I had this friend, a self-described Anglophile. She had been reading this book. She was also intelligent and at least as snarky as me so it must be worthwhile. The cover read, Naughts & Crosses. I asked what it was about and whether I should read it. She sort of scoffed and said something to the effect of, “It’s a romance story, you won’t like it.” I was so offended that she thought I could never enjoy something she deemed, girly. Yes, I was averse to anything that would chip at my staunch intellectual exterior. As it turned out, her underestimation of me was the ultimate sales tactic. I had to read it, now. Yes, there was a romance story. A Romeo & Juliet line that runs through it was hardly the point of the book. If Naughts & Crosses were a food, the R&J aspect would have been like crackers. Not the point, it’s filling but a vehicle for salt, peanut butter, ham, cheese. Or in the case of this book, it served as a vehicle for discussion of much deeper concepts. I loved it, even the romance. Then I was lead to the land of Shakespeare. I felt like I had entered a secret society that needed a code to understand the nuance. I had the code. I fed on that feeling of belonging to a society with such a reputation. In my limited knowledge of Academia I knew Shakespeare was a key to a better and more exclusive society. So I read and read and laughed and learned. I am currently swaddled in a book called, Fiddler in the Subway. It was my only birthday gift request. I started it the day it arrived. New book ritual begins with solemn holding in preparation for brain snacks. Then a cursory flip-through to decide by title which stories I’m going to like most. Then I read it and am crushed when it ends and I go searching for a literary Heath Bar. Maybe it began with the beanbag book corner in Mr. Kruse’s class, or the moment I understood Macbeth. Whatever it was, I’m always hungry.