“What in the hell are you doing?” my husband chuckled after walking into the room to witness me rhythmically knocking my head against the wall.
Yeah, that’s new.
I had to get one more in before turning my head to the side and quietly stating, “I can’t do it. I just. can’t. do. it. anymore.”
He carefully stepped forward and asked in a quiet voice, “Is this about that thing with the toilet last week? Because, you know, I apologized for that.”
I shook my head and muffled, “No, it’s not you.” Pause. “But that was pretty disgusting. I had nightmares.”
Relieved to be in the clear for my current woe, he simply shrugged and began to turn away.
“Wait!” I gasped and reached out to him. “I need to ask you something.” I looked him right in the eye, “Do you think I’ve gotten more stupid as I’ve aged?”
The deer-in-the-headlights look fell across his face, he took a step back and stammered, “Is...uh...that like asking if your butt looks...big? Because I learned my lesson on that one too, remember?”
My shoulders fell in defeat and I answered, “No, it’s not that.” I gestured toward the eReader on the couch and said, “It’s supposed to be a classic. Everybody says so.”
Two words: “Les Miserables”
I don’t know why I was surprised.
The sentiment is written right there, in the title. Sure, it’s French. But, come one. Even my non-Continental mind can translate that one without any assistance from the nice people at Rosetta Stone.
I can also ask for the bathroom in Spanish.
I know. You’re impressed.
Here’s something else...I’ve been trying to read Victor Hugo’s classic for about four months now.
For miserable, long months.
“Les Miserables” - French for “One Thousand Pages of Mind-Numbingly Boring French History With A Few Characters Thrown In Who Possess Few, If Any, Redeeming Qualities Framed Inside An Essay On The Class And Political Struggles Of 19th Century France.”
And that’s the abridged version.
Oh. Dear. God.
This explains so much.
I had no idea what I was in for when I started the novel.
I had romantic images of the little orphan girl on the Broadway musical poster. Some vague memory of somebody singing about bread. Or a dream. Or bread IN a dream.
In any case, I figured it was the basis for a hit musical and a newly released major motion picture. All those people couldn’t be wrong, right?
I was chapters - CHAPTERS - into the book before the main character even made his first appearance.
And it went downhill from there.
But, even then, I still should be able to trudge my way through the thing, right? Between high school and college, I managed many of the classics. Steinbeck. Austen. Faulkner. Dickens and Shakespeare. Even the “Canterbury Tales,” Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and - oh, dear God - “Beowulf.”
So this wasn’t my first rodeo, my friend.
I, the proud owner of a library card at the age of 5, am a seasoned veteran of perusing the written word.
But that didn’t stop me from taking a mulligan through a good portion of the first half of the book.
I sympathized with the tragic Fantine. Not because she sold her teeth, her body, lost her child, then eventually died a horrifically painful death.
I was jealous because she got to leave the book early.
I made any excuse to stop reading the darn thing.
“Oh, it’s time to make dinner.”
“Oh...the...uh...dog needs a bath.”
“Oh, I want a root canal.”
Then finally, “Oh, just screw it.”
Life is too short to waste it away pretending to be an intellectual.
Especially when no one else is looking.
Why didn’t I just buy the actual book?
At least I could display it prominently. Impress visitors with, “Oh, yes, do you see this literary classic on my bookshelf? Aren’t I smart? And sophisticated?...Yes, that is the entire “Twilight” series next to it. What are you trying to say?!”