Saturday, December 04, 2010

Come Together

Friends of our were telling us how they met and how their courtship developed. I was charmed to hear that the moment they began falling in love was when they realized how much they both had loved one particular book: Winnie the Pooh. It seems so sweet to fall in love over a book. I wonder how their mothers feel when they hear this story—how amazed they must be that their own choice of what book to read to their children would influence their children’s future choice of spouses!

Several relationships in my own life have become closer because of a shared passion for a particular book—or music. I remember the day I looked up at the bookshelf of my brand new, previously unknown freshman roommate at BYU, and saw Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. That’s when I knew we would be kindred spirits. And we were, and we went on to share many more cultural experiences together, passing books back and forth or discovering new passions together, such as International Cinema and live jazz.

I made another discovery of a kindred spirit when Cheri led a book group discussion on one of her favorite authors, Anne Tyler. Any active LDS woman who loves Anne Tyler is going to be someone I want to hang with.

There was the time my friend Kathy referred in one of our many discussions about trying to live right to a book that has influenced me so much that I regularly re-read it: Terry Warner’s The Bonds that Make Us Free. Our friendship grew deeper because of that than many days of conversation could have caused. She gave it to me for a gift later that year.

Music, too, brings people together. In college I had a good friend, Justin, who entered my life when I stood behind him in line for dinner at the ward dinner party. He was softly singing to himself the da-da’s from U2’s “Surrender.” This was in the late 80’s, when everybody claimed to be fans of U2 because of Joshua Tree. But here was a guy who knew War. I joined in on the da-da’s, and we were instant friends.

My old high school buddy, Paul, endeared himself to me when we found that both of us were equally skilled at quoting The Sound of Music. And knew all the choreography to the “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” We acted it out over and over (sans kiss).

And, most importantly of all, my relationship with my husband moved to a relationship instead of just a date when, on our first date, I told him we would be watching What’s Up, Doc? (a test of his sense of humor, of course) and he responded with lit eyes, a huge grin, and several quotes from the movie. Done deal.

Has this happened to you? What books or songs or movies have helped you grow closer to someone?


Emily M. said...

On our second date Matt quoted a Garrison Keillor Lake Wobegon monologue from memory. I love Garrison Keillor, and I loved the way Matt appreciated his kind of humor. That was very, very impressive to me.

Anonymous said...

(I've been too verbose below and Blogger's not going to let me post this unless I break it in two.)

For some reason I found this question quite challenging. Maybe that's because I have a bad cold and my brain's working at half-speed, or maybe it's just that it's quite an interesting question to me.

On a long drive some time after Dean and I were engaged, I told him all about various forms of literary criticism, and he asked thoughtful questions that showed he understood. I was very happy to discover that if I'd chosen to marry an engineer who wasn't passionate about poetry and literature, at least he could understand and take an interest in my interests. He's always tried to stay fairly well-rounded (other than his indifference to sports, which is a good match for me anyway). And in recent years he's been as big a fan of young adult fantasy books as my kids and I are, so that's really fun.

I can also think of several times when I've found out someone despises something I like, or vice-versa, like when a ward member actually shuddered as she said she won't read any fantasy books, or when I asked another neighbor, "Who goes to all those women's expos they're always holding?" and she immediately responded, "I do. I go to every one of them that I can." (I've never been to one. I love pretty handmade things, but I just can't seem to interest myself in giving up a Saturday morning for such an event.)

I grew up with Franny and Zooey and Anne Tyler books on our living room bookshelves and read everything in sight, but somehow I haven't always gone looking for friends based on those interests. Also, at some point I wearied, to a degree, of novels about dysfunctional, depressed people. Maybe it was all too familiar--in fact, the one thing I remember about Franny and Zooey is that I felt like I was reading a conversation between my brother and myself. (I wonder if I would still feel that way if I re-read it.) I do still love "For Esme with Love and Squalor" and am moved by some of the other "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" stories--but it also appears that Salinger may have been something of a skeevy pervert, and that suspicion does taint his work for me, at least some. (I recently read an article about a former student of his who claims to have had an affair with him when she was very young and he was not, in which he was controlling and verbally abusive.) And I loved Anne Tyler's books until . . . what was the name of the last one I read? I can't remember, but I lost interest and haven't read any since.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, my mom has always had a lovely balance of strong faith and intellectual curiosity, and to a degree I've ridden on her coattails and haven't always been as curious as she has. But I've also seen quite a few of her dear friends leave the church and/or rather atrociously mess up their personal lives. This hasn't made me anti-intellectual, but perhaps more wary--and it's true that sometimes friends who've shared my interests have disappointed me in some ways. And other times friends I thought DIDN'T share interests in the same things I like have surprised me.

A cute-but-true answer would be that I'm going to have *something* in common with anyone who loves the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. And another not-entirely true, but good-sounding, answer would be that I like and am interested in EVERYONE. I do think it would be fair to myself to say that I'm usually looking to find common ground with anyone I meet--but it's also true that I'm rarely expecting to find someone with tastes as eclectic and eccentric as mine.

Oh, but I just thought of one. I've made a few internet friends who enjoy collecting funny malapropisms as much as I do, which has been great fun.

Thanks for letting me once again hog the space in your comment box. It seems that for me, being too sick to feel like sewing doesn't mean being too sick to feel like pontificating.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me for a third comment, but I was just browsing a design blog I sometimes read (that's by an LDS designer who lives in a loft in Manhattan) and she's thinking about enlarging a book cover to display as art. Guess which book? Here's the post.

I just thought that was a funny coincidence.

Kathleen said...

Well, my first date with my husband was to a production of THE MIKADO. His folks were into community theater productions of Gilbert and Sullivan when he was younger, and they'd bought tickets for the whole family. He told me later that he was pleasantly surprised that I knew who Gilbert and Sullivan were (thank you, thank you, Mitch Miller!), because he thought since I was in one of his engineering classes, I wouldn't be all that much into things like theater and arts and so on.

I don't know if that counts or not. We have a lot of other things in common that aren't all that humanities oriented (like engineering).

ashley said...

The summer before Mike and I started dating we discovered that we were both reading a Leo Tolstoy novel. He was reading Crime and Punishment and I was just finishing Anna Karenina. So I quickly finished my book and started reading C&P. We discussed the book via email through the summer and got engaged that fall. Looking back I still think it was a strange book to fall in love over...but c'est la vie!