As an almost lifelong bookworm, I’ve been guilty more than once of getting entirely too wrapped up in fictional worlds. In grad school, my friends and I sorted all of our professors into their proper Hogwarts houses. At my first post-grad school job, two of my coworkers and I wasted minutes—nay, days—on Sporcle quizzes and, yes, sorted all our colleagues and superiors. I was made Secret Keeper for that list on the off chance someone might see it and figure out what we thought of them. (K & C, never fear; it is buried so deep in a closet somewhere that I would need a day or two to find it.) Beyond Harry Potter, there’s my Bitch Planet tattoo. There’s playing hospital at recess all through fourth or fifth grade because we were all so deep into Lurlene McDaniel. There’s the legit fear, after a Fear Street bender, that someone might actually plant a needle in my lipstick and taking special care to check it before each reapplication.
I tell myself that all bookish people do this. I’m sure most of us do, to an extent.
But then there are the little fictions, slightly outlandish wishes, around books that we wish we could make come true. We do all do this, too, right? Maybe that’s just another fantasy of mine.
Here are my three best bookish wishes, ranked in order of how embarrassing I find them now.
I’m not embarrassed by this one AT ALL. I still have it, in fact, though instead of a boyfriend, I’m meeting my new best friend in the _____ aisle at the bookstore. It was sad when I was a lonely teenager, though. I went to a small school in a very, very rural area. Nearly every boy was my cousin (not kidding). The ones who weren’t, I’d mostly known since we were five years old. Every summer when my parents took me school shopping in one of the semi-nearby bigger towns with stores like Hastings and Books-A-Million, I looked forward to reaching up to a shelf just above my head for whatever book struck my fancy at the moment, baring exactly the right amount of midriff (it was the late ‘90s) to catch the eye of some cutie with similar taste (or if I was feeling salty, taste that offended me but was still “good,” you know, so we could argue Morrison vs. Faulkner then furiously make out). I’m married now, so like I said before, I daydream in passing about this still, but instead of furiously making out, my new BFF and I drink coffee and read together, not talking.
Famous Writer, Appearing on Late-Night TV
Not long after I realized I was a terrible singer, but shortly before I stopped trying to write an eleven-year-old’s version of Sheryl Crow’s debut Tuesday Night Music Club (I mean, knew SO MUCH about bars then, didn’t you?), I decided I was obviously destined to become a famous writer. By my very early teens, I was so enmeshed in this fantasy that I devoted many a journal section to practicing being interviewed by Rolling Stone. Questions about my style, my inspirations, my life both as a prodigy (sickeningly famous by 16) and as someone who hit it big post-college and used a lot of expensive-sounding words. Did I mention I was famous for my poetry? Which I’d made a spoken-word album of, which got me lined up in the musical-guest slot on late-night TV. Again, this was the ‘90s, so that entailed going on Jay Leno and David Letterman, getting my makeup done by Kevyn Aucoin (RIP), and wearing expensive leather skirts with ratty babydoll tees. Now, I’d have to fantasize about Lip Sync Battle-ing some Ani DiFranco and playing Box of Lies with Jimmy Fallon. Neither of those sounds bad. First up: become a disgustingly famous writer and spoken-word album making poet.
The Long-Lost Twin
It’s okay to cringe at your seven-year-old self, right, and basically think she’s a giant doof? I mentioned my small school before. Its library was also pretty small (though, thinking about it now, it could have been so very much worse as I came of age before every other book was being banned or challenged in that community). I was really starting to get into reading books of my own choosing, which meant a whole bunch of Sweet Valley Twins (I got to Sweet Valley High in fourth grade). I probably read twenty or so of those brightly-colored, library-bound holy texts in a row. After some long weekend or something, I decided I’d go to school as my long-lost twin. Never mind the question of, you know, where is Jeanette and why isn’t she here to introduce this new person who just entered her life. My thought process went no further than, “I’m going to wear my hair down and put on a fuckload of shiny costume jewelry I found at my grandma’s house, maybe not wear anything related to New Kids on the Block, and people are TOTES GONNA BUY IT.” Thank goodness I chickened out. Not because I thought it wouldn’t work but because I worried everyone would like not-me better. Janine! I was going to say my name was Janine. Smh. I can’t believe I’m telling you this, internet.
Okay. Share yours. Embarrass yourself a little bit to make me feel better, I beg you.