There’s no easy way to begin, so I’ll just come out and say it: I used to read the encyclopedia for fun. This fact alone could be the reason I always had to take my science lab partners to prom/homecoming in high school. That, combined with the fact I was on the math team. And I won science fairs. And I watched Jeopardy! with a fanaticism unparalleled by most teenagers on this planet.
I adore books. In my prime (before toddlers and laundry and, well, life, entered the picture), I could read three books a day. In college, I worked as a book repair technician, gently renewing and repairing the beloved collection of the college library…I revelled in the comforting smell of the pages and the texture of the woven binding cloth. When I moved on to graduate school and saw the truly epic reading list attached to the syllabus, I smiled as those around me wept. My husband laughs and simply refuses to believe I can read – and comprehend – a 300 page book in less than a day. He also refused to accept that I read an entire collection of encyclopedias for entertainment value until I quoted the publisher (Grolier, 1968) and he called my parents to confirm.
Marty: “Do you have a set of encyclopedias in the house?”
Mom: “Yes dear, why?”
Marty: “Michelle insists that she used to read them for fun.”
Mom: “Yes, well, she did. We had to drag her out of the house to get a bit of sunlight every now and again.”
Mom: “Yes, well, we all know she’s a little…strange…”
Marty: “You mean nerdy?”
Mom: “Yes, that’s really the best way to describe it.”
I used my Duaflex viewfinder and set up the still life with all manner of books from around our home, including a Greek-English dictionary that once belonged to Marty’s grandfather. It was clearly well-loved, full of hand-written annotations, its pages folded and marked for repeated use. Marty says he cannot remember a day that his grandfather wasn’t reading the Classics in both Greek and Latin. Had I been lucky enough to know Dr. Hayes while he was alive, I know we would have gotten along famously.