I have resisted bubble tea for years now, because who on earth would want to drink hot, carbonated tea? I just had some; am feeling dumber than usual (which is saying a lot). This wouldn't be a big deal, but I'd be lying if I said this sort of thing rarely happened to me. Examples below:
*When I took the kids to the Renaissance Fair(e) last year, I was so excited to see a festival dedicated to Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, and co. I couldn't quite imagine how a fair could celebrate Renaissance art, science and philosophy, but I just knew it was going to be good. I couldn't wait to see the period dress, to sample authentic recipes. I was quite surprised by the angels in short-shorts, vampires with wings, and goth knights with demon horns as they milled around the entrance, but my dumbness is sometimes bulletproof, because it took me at least another half hour to reorient my mindset. Not two seconds, not two minutes, a full half hour, at least.
*I spent the years in my twenties and thirties feeling vastly superior to the people who read romance novels on the beach, on trains, during work, etc. I'd stand behind them in line at the library, sneering while they checked out piles of paperbacks with overblown covers, clutching my Serious Literature to my tiny heart. I was a Reader; I read Books with a capital B, unlike those poor, deluded consumers of fantasy-lite.
Then, (of course there's a then, this is me we're talking about...my entire life is one long embrace with karma and my own innate stupidity) I had a series of bad years. My health failed in an almost comically swift manner, a baker's dozen of doctors failed to diagnose me in an even more spectacular failure (minus the hilarity), I gained fifty pounds because of an equally un-diagnosed non-functioning thyroid (in spite of working out two hours a day and doing the Zone diet to combat the gain...and here's one fun example of the endless good times: one doctor told me the reason I couldn't lose weight was because "sometimes stay at home mommies snack too much and then they want the easy way out with thyroid medication." I kid you not. I was too tired and sick to plot the perfect murder, or I assure you the world would be short one smug, unburdened-by-all-those-pesky-thoughts-doctor).
One late night, while waiting for prescriptions at the drug store, I perused the paperback section of the store. I was sad, overwhelmed, in chronic pain, and looking for an escape, and amazingly, I actually found one. The book was called 'The Italian' and I'm sorry to say it wasn't a shining example of the best that romance novels have to offer...but...Everyone Lived Happily Ever After. I can't tell you how amazing it was to read a book without a tragic yet poignant ending, or bitter and bleak but poetic, or worse, the endings where everyone is a little sadder, a little wiser, but nothing much else has changed.
I knew there had to be a list somewhere of the best romance novels, and once I found the good ones (and there were and are so many good ones), I was hooked. I'd forgotten how much I loved fairytales, how much I loved well written fantasy, and the happy endings were so gratifying during a time where joy was sparse on the ground. I got lost in a book the way I hadn't since I was ten. It was a wonderful, marvelous discovery.
Here's the part where you fall to the ground, knocked down by the weight of my sheer stupidity: it took about FIFTY romance novels before I realized they ALL had happy endings. All of them. This isn't an exaggeration for the sake of an anecdote. This is real. This happened. I am the only person in the world who actually read romance novels and didn't. quite. understand. that they guaranteed the happily ever after. every time, every book. I'm a little (a lot) slow sometimes. Quite often, as it happens.
Don't you feel good about yourself right now? Of course you do. You're ready to apply to Mensa, you're feeling so high on your righteous intelligence (rightfully so). Wait till I tell you that I'm still working on my Christmas present knitting right now, during the end of June. I still have three projects to finish. Yes, they're a bit late. Yes, I'm going to send them when they're done (probably Halloween). Yes, they're going as said Christmas presents. Yes, indeed, I couldn't find my dignity with both hands and a flashlight. Ditto with my brain. I'm absolutely willing to bet that even if you've done something as remarkably slow-witted as me, you haven't done (and will do) as many as me. I win. You're going to be suffused with the flush of a healthy ego for some time, aren't you? You're welcome.
* ** Go to Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, or Dear Author to find lists of really, genuinely amazing romance novels. They exist. I personally believe that Laura Kinsale is as good as Jane Austen, if not better. Seriously.