I wonder how different my life would be if Instruction Books were the kind of reading that keeps you up until the wee hours, eyes bloodshot for the answer to the killer mystery, the resolution of the heart-thrumping thriller, or that elusive drop of simple fictional truth that feeds our souls for days. Personally, I feel nudged toward something real and necessary (like fictional riddles solved and soul snacks) if I'm to keep up this pretense. Okay, sorry to go all Vonnegut on you, but it is 104 in the shade right now and I'm not optimistic about the rest of the week.
But about instruction books. You see, I've been putting together this BLOG. And no matter how many graphics, photos, clever captions the "how-to pages" work in, I would rather stick a stake through my head than read them. Which is probably why at the end of this I will have no idea whether this will be the first BLOG heading on the overhead menu choice, or the second one. Because I have managed to create two, which is so more than I wanted to say.
I have gotten this far by doing it the way the 7-year-olds I watch do. They try almost the same thing every time, but click a different button somewhere down the line. They are fearless where it may take them. They, unlike many of the adults I know, realize that they can always find their way back home. I like the way they think, don't you? I often emulate the young to great success (what I affectionately refer to as my version of the cunning of age).
But back to the reading dilemma. I was once married to somebody who actually read these kind of books. It was sorta awesome, but it also freaked me out a little. How does anybody's brain stay awake long enough to absorb the technical order of things? My mind literally bolts from the experience, as though it were dashing from horrific truths I will never be able to face. But to sit for hours and read how to build a room-add-on? Make a mailbox? Change a pipe fitting? It boggles my chaos-addicted mind. Is this what men do when they go out to the proverbial garage? And if so, does that mean they do this on beer? God love 'em.
The closest I come to reading technical books would be cookbooks, which I love to peruse because I never execute a recipe exactly as written, unless it's a souffle because you'd better not mess around with anything beaten that's supposed to rise up an aluminum foil sleeve. The margin of error is miniscule. But with any other recipe, I'll skew the herb proportions, substitute ingredients, cut the proportions from servings for ten to intimate dinner for two. (I once knew a great Army cook who said he could slam down spaghetti and meatballs for 500, but couldn't make a dinner for two of said description to save his life.) Cookbooks are the low-tech lovers' technical reading of choice. We insist on some small outlet for individuality.
Now, all that said, I certainly must admit that this inability to absorb technical how-to's does make me feel stupid. Isn't my I.Q. sufficiently high that I should find the how-to information just as pithy and exciting as the end to that psychological thriller? But tonight, I'll be curling up with Pete Dexter or Michael Connelly. If that's a character defect, bring it on.
Linda Lee McDonald
I live comfortably poor in Oklahoma City, have a backyard garden in constant need of a weedeater manicure, am visited by birds every day when they bathe in my mixing bowl birdbath, and am blessed with my two rescue dogs, Jake and Roxie, who save me every day of my life.