8 September 2011

“Let’s Be Foreign Together”: A Kindle-Inspired Teenage Love Story

by Cordelia Perez, Guest Blogger

Editor’s Intro: Cordelia is an incredibly talented young writer, and a member of a rare and amazing species: a young person who loves to read. (Quick, sample her DNA for future cloning!) Her writing contains inspired turns of phrase and fresh perspectives undampened by such soul-anesthetizing pressures as monetization and returns on investment. Here she describes the effect that Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle, has had on her…

At first glance, Amazon’s Kindle appears like most other new technology: overly hyped and unnecessary. At least, such was my opinion when my mother forced me to accept one as an early Christmas present. I could not have been more mistaken…

The Kindle in fact is an incredibly useful device if you are looking to have crushed hopes and dreams that you had no idea you were harboring. Maybe they could make that their description: “The Kindle, implanting dreams in your brain and erasing illusions that they make come true since 2009.”

Now I’m getting ahead of myself!

When I finally got over my initial hatred of the idea that reading is actually reading even if you don’t shove your nose into the book spine and inhale deeply as often as possible, I decided to buy some books from the Kindle store. My mom had sent it to me with five Jane Austen books and The Works of Sigmund Freud along with a slew of American classics already downloaded. I skipped over these in favor an author with whom I fell in love at the age of ten when I first stole one of his books off my stepmom’s nightstand table:

David Sedaris.

David Sedaris: the man of her e-dreams. (photo by Jesse Costa/WBUR via Wikimedia Commons)

Every time I see a book of his short stories in a bookstore, I sit down in the aisle and read a few, savoring them like the last glops of cake batter on a whisk. My mother would then find me what felt like mere seconds later with a crinkly plastic Border’s bag in her hand and her cellphone wedged between her shoulder and ear. Between affirmative sounds to the person on the phone and sighs of poorly concealed frustration, she would mouth out “I’ve already paid. Let’s go.” I would plead at her with my eyes, and mouth out “Please? This one is really SO good.” (Though we’re fully capable of speech, lip-reading on both ends increased the drama of the moment that I knew would lead to parting with my precious paperback.) My mom would smile and mouth out “Next time, sweetie.” And she would hurry out to the car where she could finish her business call in peace.

My first Kindle purchase being Me Talk Pretty One Day made perfect sense. Within seconds the entire book was in my hands and I read it at top speed. Voraciously I continued to buy all of the books one by one in the Kindle store, finishing them each within hours. I watched as Sedaris evolved from a young cynical writer who shared my dark sense of humor to a bitter older man. It was this last part that crushed my dreams.

I had always secretly hoped of meeting him and laughing over all the things in common that we hated. Now that he has aged considerably, he probably won’t want random teenage girls waltzing into his house and criticizing the lack of hand soap in the bathroom.

I had always harbored the hope of meeting Sedaris and becoming his friend the way aspiring young authors dream of being mentored by J.D. Salinger. When Sedaris stated in When You Are Engulfed in Flames that he is currently 48, my heart skipped a beat. A small cry escaped from my lips. “No!” He is too old to have children and now I will never get to marry one of the Sedarises. (Yes, yes, I know that he’s gay. :) That doesn’t rule out surrogate motherhood lol. My other plan was to fall in love with one of his offspring and marry him, but alas, 48 is not past childbearing years but likely well past “desirous of baby” years.)

Logic not exactly playing into my thoughts at the moment, I cast my Kindle aside.

With one easy press of a button I had read the line that crushed years worth of dreaming built up even further by the sudden everything all-at-once magic Kindle itself. If it weren’t for the Kindle, I may not have even realized his age until my late twenties, at which point my love for Sedaris would be more subdued thanks to a childhood spent reading his stories one by one in bookstores.

The Kindle momentarily seemed so good. “Look here, your dream come true! A whole entire David Sedaris book all to yourself. Right here! Right Now!” Alas, no. The line I so often thought while reading stories of David’s experiences living in France and Tokyo, that rang so true to mine here in Argentina, “Let’s be foreign together!” will forever go unused.

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A California girl to the core, Cordelia Perez is a member of the Cassandra Report and a Bryn Mawr College grad. Her baking specialties include banana chocolate chip bread and rainbow cake.

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