At work the other day S asked how my birthday weekend went. I told her we had a great dinner at Waterboy and then went to a bookstore, where I picked up a couple of impossibly trashy novels. So trashy, I had to admit to her, that I wouldn’t even show my husband what I’d gotten, because I was embarrassed (even though he said, “But I’m getting sci-fi, that’s just as bad!”).
S’s response was, “Geez, why not just watch porn?” To which I answered without blinking, “I was an English major – for me that IS porn.” And that got me thinking about words.
I love the way words sound: I actually keep a mental list of my favorite words. “Seraphim” is on the list, as is “absinthe”. I only speak English, but I can read French a bit, and I can pick out words in Spanish. I hate the sound of German, too guttural, but I love the sound of Russian and Arabic. Arabic in particular just sounds so fluid, as if it matches the way its script flows.
When I read, I can picture almost anything that is described. Oh sure, sometimes it’s fuzzy, if there’s not enough detail. For the life of me I couldn’t understand bangalore torpedoes when described in Stephen Ambrose’s “D-Day”, so actually seeing them, albeit briefly, in “Saving Private Ryan” was a revelation. At the same time, I was one of the few people in the movie theater NOT falling apart during that infamous first 20 minutes of the movie, because I’d read Ambrose’s telling of the beach landings, and unfortunately, had already pictured everything (and had recovered from the nightmares years before.)
That’s not to say that I don’t have an appreciation for the visual. I have a thing for Jackson Pollock (not ironically strengthened by reading his biography by Smith and Naifeh). I love movies (I spent all of “New Moon” thinking, Wow! Great color saturation, nice lighting! Which is perhaps not good, if that’s what I thinking instead of actually paying attention to the story and acting, such as they were). My favorite color is red, and I’m quite particular about the exact shade.
The world is made up of picture-people and word-people. Some people just respond best to visual stimuli, and that’s great: there’s an entire industry made for you and you’re welcome to it.
Me? I’m a word girl.