Thursday, November 15, 2012

Speed Dating with Books in Hand

I wake up very late Tuesday morning, leading into the opening minutes of the afternoon, not expecting to see Skyfall later that afternoon at Regal Boulder Station 11 (one of the best Bond movies, but On Her Majesty's Secret Service is still the best), not expecting to double my money on Coyote Moon, my favorite slot machine, at Boulder Station, after the movie, not expecting to go to Wing Stop for dinner that evening, and certainly not expecting to hear from my mother what I hear after I've dressed and walked into the living room:

"You're going speed dating!"

What? Me? Speed dating? Hola. Mi nombre es Rory Aronsky.

Let me back up to 3 a.m. Tuesday morning. I went to bed in the bed that I know is my bed, with all those books on the floor from the library and those which are my permanent collection. I know all those books.

I woke up in the bed that I know is my bed, in the room that I know is my room, pulling clothes that I know are my clothes from the closet that I know is my closet. Everything seems the same. When did speed dating decide to stroll on in?

After I shrug off the shock that feels like five minutes more than the two seconds it took to do so, Mom tells me that she found it in the View section, which is expressly written and printed for all the different areas of Las Vegas. We live in the Sunrise/Whitney area, so we get that section every Tuesday inside our regular Las Vegas Review-Journal.

She tells me to pick up that section of the paper, which is already on top of the rest of the paper, folded out to show the "Arts & Leisure" page, the bottom of which has the "Book Briefs" section. And here is the blurb that I read:

Find love among the shelves at the Date My Book event scheduled from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Friday at the Gibson Library, 100 W. Lake Mead Parkway. Singles are invited to bring a favorite book and chat with other readers in five-minute sessions. For more information, visit or call 702-565-8402."

I wasn't sure how to react. I'm still not sure how to react. As Mom put it, "It's better than a bar or any other place like that," and that's true. It's in a library, my place of worship, and I'd like to meet other bibliophiles like me. Mom wasn't pushy about it, not hinting that I should find a date, just that I could talk books with people for a while. She doesn't read a great deal, not finding a comfortable spot to do it in yet, Dad picks one or two books a week from the new books section of the Whitney Library, and Meridith reads steadily, but not to the extent I do. Three, four, five books a week, maybe more? I've done it countless times. I'm still writing, I still want to write the books and novels that are always swirling about in my head, but there are just some weeks that I want to chuck all those plans and just read. Perhaps this event would be good for me. I follow Mom's viewpoint about this, and I stick to this about the other possibility: If it happens, then I'll work from there. If not, that's fine. I don't discount the possibility, but I'm not actively searching for a relationship. I've got an enormous city and region, and eventually state, and other states, to explore, I've got books I want to read, and books I want to write, and that's enough for me.

Right now, my library card is at its limit. 50 items. All books. My holds are at the limit of 25. I hope to meet those who do the same as me, who keep the library system running. At the Whitney Library, every Saturday or Sunday, or sometimes Monday, I walk past the other shelves full of holds to get to mine, and I look for the first four letters of those last names that appear as often as mine do, wondering about that person, how many books they read in a week, what their interests are that keep them coming to the library. This may be my chance to know more about them, no matter that this is under the jurisdiction of the Henderson Libraries system and not the Las Vegas-Clark County Library system. In fact, reading the blurb, I thought I could return the then-three, now-five books that I'm done with, before realizing that I'll have to wait until Saturday or Sunday to do that because neither the Gibson Library, nor any other Henderson branch for that matter, will accept my books because Henderson and Las Vegas are separate systems.

They say to bring a favorite book. I know exactly what I'm bringing: The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. These two novels are always locked in a Battle Royale to become my favorite novel. I've read each one nearly ten times, with more re-readings to come. I'm sure I can talk about a lot in five minutes, so I want to include that. Other topics I have in mind are my love of presidential history, my lifetime goal to read all the Star Trek novels ever published (not as a Trekkie, but as a science fiction wanderer), my other favorite books (Naturally, I don't have just one, and a favorite novel, if that battle is ever won by either of those two novels, would not be my overall favorite book, since I'll never have one), those times I just have to pre-order or order a book from Amazon because I don't want to wait for the library to hopefully get it in, and whatever else might pop up. My side of the conversation will not be pre-planned. I will not have an outline in my head.

I know exactly what I'm wearing: Jeans, both pairs of which I'll put in the laundry today to determine whether I want to wear the lighter-colored jeans (they're not that bright blue, and I could never see myself wearing that kind of brightness) or the darker-colored, and this shirt, called Lose Yourself. After I agreed to this speed dating excursion, I determined which of my four book-related t-shirts would be most appropriate, not only for this event, but also because I'll be wearing it to see Christopher Cross at 8 p.m. that night at Sunset Station. No going home to change. "Lose Yourself" would be best because it's more detailed than my other shirts (save for the rainbow in this shirt) and is suitably low-key for the other outings of the evening, which also includes Fazoli's for dinner (across from Sunset Station), and then the 10 p.m. Spazmatics show also at Sunset Station, inside Club Madrid, where Christopher Cross will just have finished performing before they come on.

I still feel a bit weird about this, not in a resorting-to-meeting-people-like-this way, but because I have my city, I have my state, I have my books, I have my favorite movies, so what else do I need? But you know what? For nine years in Santa Clarita, there was really nothing to do. To even do one interesting thing in a day, you had to leave the valley, but because of the enormous stretch of freeways to get to Ventura or Burbank or Anaheim, you had to make a day of it. Now that I'm living in Nevada, in Las Vegas, I want to do many different things! I want to experience all there is to experience! I want to see if there are any female bibliophiles who are as passionate about books as I am.

And if I do feel a twinge of something upon talking with one of those bibliophiles, well, what better place for it to happen?

Always an open mind. That's how I've lived for two months here, and it's going to stay that way. So I'm going to enjoy myself and let go. No expectations. Just the joy of talking books with those who hopefully flood the holds shelves like I do, who come to the library with big canvas bags to stock up for the week. They're my kind of people, and I should meet them! And so I will.