I was reading a book my partner gave me. It was late in the evening, they were already in bed. We had been fighting a bit, nothing huge, but a bit. Still, I had promised the other day that I would give the book a chance, and I wasn’t busy.
It was poetry. Free verse and heart-wrenchingly honest.
I really enjoyed it.
But it was late, and I needed to get to bed, so I closed the book and went to set it down.
Which suddenly became a terrible little adventure.
“No don’t set it there,” I say to myself, “If you put it back where it was, they’ll think you haven’t been reading it. Put it over here on your desk, so they know you took the time.”
So I move to put it there.
“No you fool!” shouts another piece of myself, “Don’t you remember you were arguing? If you set it there it looks passive aggressive. ‘Oh look at me, I read some of your book so you can’t be mad at me anymore.’”
I’m forced to admit, that would look pretty bad.
So I go to set it down where it was.
But now I can’t just set it down. Because now I have to give a long, thorough think.
Where is the optimal place to set this book? What spot indicates that I really did read it and enjoyed it, without looking like I meant to indicate such a thing at all? Does such a spot even exist?
The presence of vague hostilities, however temporary, transforms the simple act of releasing a thing from my hand into a game of political intrigue that would make the court’s of Renaissance Europe weep.
Finally, and with more frustration than I ever intended, I thrust the book into a spot almost exactly where it was before.
I probably shouldn’t be skipping my anxiety meds.