They say books can take you anywhere – to distant lands, to magical palaces full of kings and queens and even places you’ve been to a million times, but for some reason, see things in a new light this time.
But at 27, when my life started to resembled more of a nightmare than a fairytale, I wanted books – any book – to take me one place: into a man’s arms.
I suffered through my teens and early ‘20s, through a series of searching and silent rejections, discovering what I didn’t want. I knew I didn’t want the sort of guy you’d meet at a bar – what’s sexy about a guy competing with his friends to get the most phone numbers? I knew I didn’t want the sort of guy who is great at having relationships, the only problem being he loves having a relationship with himself and no one else – who wants to be a piece of arm candy, anyway? And I knew I didn’t want the sort of guy who pumps iron at the gym – how can two people even talk with sweat dripping from their faces? Not to perpetuate a stereotype, but more often than not, those guys are all muscle and no brains.
The brain. That’s what I wanted. Well, not an actual brain, but rather a man with an actual, thriving, working, living one. I’ve long thought the brain is the most underrated sexiest body part. How did I come to this assertion? Easy. I met a handsome young doctor. I ended up in the hospital due to an allergic reaction to a medication when I was 20. A Dr. Steven Greenberg, a somewhat awkward medical student not much older than me with brown hair and intense brown eyes to match, oversaw my case. One morning, he came to take my blood, his eyes poised and fixated as he ran his index finger up and down my arm looking for a ripe, blue vein. All the while, he chatted about my prognosis like we were old friends. He later told me that I’d been one of his bravest patients. Little did he know he was greatest anesthetic I’d ever had.
This brings me to why I started doing more than book-bargain shopping every time I stepped through the doors of my two favorite bookstores: Borders and Barnes & Noble.
MORE JUICE AFTER THE JUMP…
In the past, I viewed the bookstore as nothing more than that: a cozy little nook where you can browse the glossy women’s magazines and hardcover books. And that’s what I did; I was, quite frankly, a bookstore addict whose monthly fix seemed equivalent to that of a coffee drinker.
But something strange – and, I suppose, somewhat remarkable – shifted in the last year. I kept noticing them, first only as glimpses out of the corner of my eye as I scanned the latest issue of ELLE or standing in front of me in the check-out line. There was a certain air about them, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. They were confident without being full of hot air; they were quiet but still loud enough to make a statement (If not, I probably wouldn’t have noticed, right?); they were intriguing without giving everything away; and perhaps most of all, they were handsome in that not-so-conventional, Hollywood male hotness way, which made them, well, all the more attractive in my eyes.
So one day, maybe out of boredom, possibly out of desperation, but most definitely out of intrigue and sheer curiosity, I started looking at more than the chick-lit section (I knew I wasn’t going to find the answer to my love crisis in the ups and downs of a fictional Manhattanite who either had love, had problems with love or who rejected love altogether).
I needed to look up. Literally. Because the more I strolled the bookstore, the more I saw the not-so-good guys begin to fade away.
My revelation, that I discovered somewhere between the history section and the Danielle Steele classics: Nice guys don’t finish last, nice guys are a dying breed, blah, blah, blah.
No. Nice guys are in bookstores! My perfect guy could have been paging through a book and for all these years, I’d been too narrow-minded to get my nose out of a book and look up. The guy with the dimpled-cheek smile. The guy who’s a bit shy, a bit reserved. The guy who has those intense eyes buried in a book, sometimes resting his hands on his chin as if he’s deeply pondering the contents of said book.
The more of these guys I saw, the more intrigued I became. In fact, there is nothing sexier than a man reading a book. Maybe that’s the writer in me talking, but if you can picture a man reading, your mind inevitably comes to the conclusion that a reading man is a talking man as well.
That would also partially explain why so many college students fall in love with their professors. Books could quite possibly be the new lusting machine that no one can resist.
The talking part. That, I will admit, is what I’ve had the most trouble navigating in the past. How do you flirt in a bookstore? I’m the sort of awkward girl who would try to coyly pretend I was reading a Shakespeare tragedy because I’d be giggling like a giddy schoolgirl behind the book. In fact, I’m not the sort of girl who can flirt on her feet. Ever. I see women who can toss their hair back, laugh naturally and lightly brush against the man’s arm as she sashays away. I’ve never been able to do that, let alone do it in such a place as a bookstore. I’ve even tried to think of perfect pick-up lines, but they’d only end up sounding dorky and cheesy anyway.
That has to be the luckiest book in the world. It’s in your arms.
Don’t tell me how it ends; I haven’t read it yet.
Don’t you love when books have the ending you were hoping for?
Can you read minds like you read books?
So…do you come to this bookstore often?
See? Not very glamorous or sexy or even creative. So more often than not, I just end up admiring these men from afar, trying to make it look like I’m not looking at them, but making the right amount of eye contact to (hopefully) get his attention without leading him to think I’m some stalker (oh, and on that note, if you’re hiding behind a book, choose wisely. Nothing says “she’s not for me” faster than a behind-the-scenes book about Fatal Attraction or Love Addiction For Dummies.
So where exactly does that leave me? Still intrigued, but with an additional love lesson in my arsenal. Finding love nowadays is sort of like finding the perfect book, the book you want to curl up on the couch with on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It might take a little longer than you think – obviously, I can attest to that. You have to wade through the flashy eye-catching covers that, when you sit down to read what’s inside, have absolutely no soul or substance whatsoever (Ahem, remember the guys at the bar?). But on the other hand, you have to willing to give a simple, plain-looking book a second glance. You could very well be swept away by what’s below the dull surface. And ultimately, once you find your favorite book, you’ll want to spend the rest of your life holding onto it.
I’ll probably be heading to the bookstore a lot more these days. I do have research to do, after all. Maybe bookstores really are the new single’s bars. All we have to do now is keep out those competing jocks.