I get Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, and Jane Eyre confused. I always remember that Heathcliff and Catherine are in Wuthering Heights because of that Monty Python sketch where they act it out in semaphore. Obviously, as problems go, this isn't a bad one. There are just all those wailing women and wives in attics and silent, deeply disturbed men; who can keep up? I tried to watch a movie adaptation of one of these not too long ago. I don't remember which because they're all the same, but this had Tom Hardy in it. I couldn't pay attention to the story because of Tom Hardy's lips. Have you seen them? Tom Hardy is to lips as Milton Berle was to, er, uh, comedy.
Here's the thing. For every John Irving or Henry James novel I read, I read about 10 Nora Roberts romances. I know I'm supposed to be all cool and hip and be like, oh, I only read David Foster Wallace out loud to Honduran orphans while eating organic acorn tofu in the porch chair my ironically suspendered husband carved from a fallen Appalachian birch maple — very rare — and drinking yaupon beer. Sometimes I'll watch the movie first, then read the book. That way I can make my holier-than-thou friends' heads explode. I've read some good stuff this way. I've also seen some bad stuff this way. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men comes to mind.
People love to rag on Nora because of her formula. There's a meet cute, they hate each other, they acknowledge their mutual attraction but ignore it, and they end up in an adorable restored bungalow. Like John Irving doesn't have a formula? Kid has attachment to strange object, there's a bear, someone is horribly mutilated or somehow disfigured, something gets blown up, and they end up in Amsterdam.
Because I love Steve Yarbrough doesn't mean I have to hate Vince Flynn. What would we do when we're stranded in the Charlotte airport if it weren't for Vince Flynn? Just because I absolutely have to have a bologna sandwich with mayonnaise and Doritos on pasty white bread a couple times a year doesn't mean I can't appreciate Amish chicken breasts stuffed with chard and turnips in a balsamic reduction.
I think women are particularly susceptible to secret shames because of Lululemon.
First, whenever I see that name, in my head I pronounce it "Lulu Mon," and I imagine happy steel drummers and jerk chicken. I think even my father knows what Lululemons are, and he thinks a "crack whore" means she's good at her job. But in case you get out even less than my father, these things I speak of are fancy, stretchy yoga pants. Except in Jackson, Mississippi, where they are fancy middle-aged-woman-running-up-to-Whole-Foods pants. These yoga pants are well-made, expensive, and their size XL is a 12. Gentlemen, you might be confused. It's like finding a great pair of Sansabelts and they only go up to a 32. So ladies such as myself, who could really use a good yoga class or 10, can't wear them. Did I mention they're expensive? Less than a yard of Spandex that you can't even put in the dryer, and they won't make your Cow Face Pose any easier for you.
Anyway, you get your Lululemons and your mandatory copy of Eat, Pray, Love, and then you start eliminating stuff from your diet. And I'm not talking through digestion. You give up wheat, nuts, beans, rice, and start drinking green kale sludge with chia seeds sprinkled on top. Your friend, a reader of Important Books, gives you Deepak Chopra, and you're off. You hide your Michelob Ultra behind your organic goat's milk. You realize you've never read anything by Joyce Carol Oates, so you buy her entire oeuvre used from Amazon but act like they're old and came from an independent book store. You start using the word "encounter" instead of "meet."
You want cool, but let me tell you something: You will never be cool. Read what you want. Eat fast food every now and then. Preferably something with the word "poppers" in the name. You know what? If you love Red Lobster cheddar biscuits, order them! Those biscuits are delightful. If your so-called friends can't handle the truth of you, dump them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life. What you need is more biscuits.