Friday, November 13, 2009

Leaving Lolita

I’ve never read Lolita.
     I’ll admit, the book’s infamous storyline has left me with a bit of a phobia, an irrational fear of encountering some sticky stain or the other left over by the sort of person who undoubtedly curls up with such a book on a sunny day, hiding from the din of society’s carnival, derelict in their sallow and empty lives.

Creeps, otherwise.

I mean, just think of all those lecherous, unwashed pedophiles, lurking behind the shelves of your local library.

I’m sorry. Did I just say that?
     I meant to say those lecherous, unwashed bibliophiles.

And, hey, let’s not forget the unmarried uncles, the lizard-eyed trigonometry teachers, the dewy-nosed assistant principals still living with their mothers, the Polish film directors currently sitting in Swiss holding cells – the whole horrible, nasty, unsavory bunch.

Throw the book at ‘em!
     Give 'em the chair, I say!

The comfy chair, that is, the one in the middle of the children’s section, with the grandmotherly cushions.
     I mean, even pedophiles pay their taxes – after all.

But really, only a creep would check out a book like Lolita from the public library – right?

Well, no, of course not.
     We’re more enlightened than that.

Lolita is considered by many to be one of the greatest books ever written – a sly, complex, funny, and critical narrative essay on our society and its mores.
     Still, I have the sneaking suspicion we’re all Humbert Humbert deep down inside – quite likely Lolita too – a notion that renders all used editions of Nabokov’s novel something of a cultural handkerchief – or perhaps a doorknob – a cafeteria spoon – a hotel pillow – the archive of analogous objects is practically endless – as endless as the wayward inclinations of the human heart – and the dirty fingerprints etched across its fragile shell.

At the other end of such affairs, I’ve also not read Charles Webb’s The Graduate.
     But, really, who has?
     Isn’t that a bit like bothering to read Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes?

Still, that literary oversight has done little to render my Mrs. Robinson Complex inert.
     And, really, what foul gummy residue might lurk between the pages of such disregarded mileposts of literature to dissuade me from picking them up?
     Their spines are more than likely still dimple-free, anxiously waiting foreign fingers, sitting virginal on the shelf.

Perhaps it’s just my age.
     Perhaps being in the rough middle of life provides one with just as much to leave behind as it does to anticipate – to obsess upon, to fear – a red ribbon in the hair of youth acting as a warning to all those who would attempt to surreptitiously brush its leg as they pass on by – those hugging the shoulder of impending decrepitude, making contact with the inevitable lines of age.
     I’ll soon find out.
     I just put a copy of Lolita on hold at my library.

Time to start that car, you dirty old man.