"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Literary Blind Date

The last time I went on a blind date I was a freshman in college. It went pretty well. I took her to see Star Trek: First Contact...which in hindsight seems fitting. Though I have gone on many dates in the years since, none have been of the blind type. Then Chelsea District Library decided to fix me up.

That is right. Last week, the public library arranged for me to look at brief descriptions of several potential blind dates. After doing so, I picked one to go out with during
National Library Week. Initially I felt some trepidation but, vowing to be a good sport, I stopped by the library last week for a round of matchmaking.


Shown above, my date is dressed in a modest green outfit. Just behind my date is our chaperon. As has become standard practice for first encounters, we met in a public place. Nevertheless, there was a catch. I was not permitted to learn the identity of my date until after I checked her out.

Going in, all I knew was that our first outing would involve a discussion of true crime, an unnamed Italian serial killer, and an instance of unsolved mystery. That sounded quite interesting to me. In fact, I was so confident the date would go well I took us straight back to my place. Then things became awkward.


Don't get me wrong. I am not offended by nude sculpture. On the contrary, I find it beautiful and evocative. That doesn't mean I'd show up to a first date wearing a t-shirt with a print of Rodin's The Kiss. Nevertheless, my Mom raised me to be a gentleman. So I politely offered to take my date's jacket. Our chaperon then made it clear my date's jacket was not to be removed.

The awkwardness persisted as, during the Introduction, I learned there had been accusations of the author planting evidence. Furthermore, the primary source for this work is none other than one of the suspects. Let's be candid, folks. Blind dates don't always go smoothly. Only a half hour into mine I felt I was getting too much information. Plus, there was the added pressure of having my date hand me a comment card with instructions that I fill it out and return it to the chaperon. I know I shouldn't complain. In exchange for providing feedback, I get entered in a prize drawing. Still, early on it seemed likely I would have no trouble getting my date home well before her April 30th curfew.


After an admittedly shaky start, I am pleased to report the date is now going well. I started getting interested when my date explained the overt pyschosexual themes on the above jacket. The sculpture is called The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna. It is in fact highly appropriate, setting the right tone for this shocking study of homicide. Furthermore, as I experience the rich culture and history of Florence, as well as the gritty nature of crime reportage, I am reminded how my reading life would be woefully incomplete without full-length non-fiction.

In another week or so, I will post a review of my blind date with this book. So far I am not as engrossed as I was with Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song. But you know what? The date is not even half over. Comparisons at this point are both premature and inconsiderate. Like all serious works of literature, this one deserves my full attention. Until next time, good reading to you all. And special thanks to Chelsea District Library for this clever book activity.

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