Archive for the ‘taste’ Category

My Poor Taste

October 2, 2007

Had an infected tooth pulled yesterday. It wasn’t so slowly poisoning me. I hardly slept the past few days.

Anyway, it occurs to me that if I weren’t in so much pain Sunday, G would have really pissed me off.

Over dinner he was telling me about his mother’s sex life. I casually inquired as to how his father died, and he puffs up and tells me that’s none of my business. This was a bit shocking, and I reacted as I do in these circumstances (with my teaching instincts) by modeling an example of how one should react. “My dad died from his liver, which is, you know, ironic for a Muslim because they’re not supposed to drink.” He said that was interesting, and then aggressively added, “it’s still none of your business how my father died.” Isn’t that nuts!? The guy died eighteen years ago, so I don’t feel as if I was in poor taste following the natural course of conversation. But here he was turning it into some big fucking mystery, like the circumstances of his father’s death was a huge secret. That’s not a “none of your business” question. It’s not as if I leaned over my dinner and asked “Do you have hemorrhoids?” Arguably, that would be none of my business.

As I went to walk back to my apartment, he said he wanted to stop by Powell’s and then he’d walk part of the way home with me. He felt that with his book collection decimated by a flood in his storage space he should take the opportunity to start rebuilding. I warned him that in the heat of the shopping moment it’s hard to separate the wheat from the crap. I went straight to the fiction section, seeing if they had any Andrea Levy novels that I haven’t read yet, and saw a translation of Clarice Lispector who I’ve wanted to read for years now. He made some snarky comment about “Uh oh. More fiction. You don’t need to be reading more fiction.” He went to the more “serious” Arab history section where he found some more “serious” work by Terry Eagleton (Holy Terror) and some condescending book about Arabs, and how pre-linguistic we are, by Susan Buck-Morss. He asked if he should read them. I snorted, “sure, if you want a laugh.” Then I explained that Susan Buck-Morss’ brain had melted some years back.

Somehow we wandered over to Literary Criticism even though I wanted to leave. I spent a few minutes looking at a book about Defoe and casuistry and then wandered over to where he was fondling WJT Mitchell’s Iconology. He asked me if he should buy it. I told him I’d lend him my copy, except I had burnt it in a friend’s fire place one especially cold Chicago winter. He was shocked. He went on to look at a few more silly books, including Felicity Nussbaum’s Torrid Zones (which I proceeded to mock), and he had the nerve to tell me “I can see you’re not ready to return to academia yet.” How rude is that? My tooth hurt so much that I used that as an excuse for my indifference, and shoved a copy of Krakauer’s The Mass Ornament into his hands, which he decided not to buy because it wasn’t in his period and the spine was weak.

Yes, indeed, the spine was weak.