When recently asked to list a few of my "hobbies" on an application, I wrote the following: "I don't have any hobbies. I used to have hobbies, but now I don't because I am busy running around doing a lot of highly boring but necessary stuff which I can't even remember by the end of the day. If I had some hobbies, however, I am sure they would include reading novels, gardening, doing needle point and (also) painting seascapes on velvet. Thank you for asking and have a nice day."
After filling out the application, I started feeling vaguely depressed that I have turned into one of those people who doesn't have any hobbies. When did I become such a pathetic non-gardening, non-needlepoint doing, non-velvet painting little loser?Anyway, I decided "to do, to grow and to become" and start reading novels again, which used to be my favorite thing in the whole world to do. When I was a younger teenager, in fact, my friend Gigi Ballif and I used to roam through the library stacks of Farret Junior High School with nerdish fervor looking for thick chick books to read like "Gone with the Wind" and "Jane Eyre." I even majored in English when I went to college so I could not only continue to read novels but also pay a lot of money for doing it, as well as be unemployed after I graduated.
The only problem with my plan, however, is that most novels (I've noticed) have more than one page which is a bad thing if you can only read for five minutes a day. What I need are very short novels - novels that only have one paragraph, for instance.
Fortunately, this problem was solved when my good friend Becky gave me a catalog called Coldwater Creek which features clothing, jewelry and household items for the sensitive, relatively affluent woman who loves Mother Earth, the color "ecru" and long, flowing dresses made of natural (preferably ecru-colored) fibers.
The merchandise is very tasteful, although nowhere near as interesting as the way it's described. Take this example of catalog copy found beneath a picture of a heart-shaped pendant, for instance: "Whisper the Polish word softly, with a lover's tender passion - serce, heart. Two zephyr-light syllables murmured breathlessly as one. An endearment given substance in precious amber gleaned from Poland's storm-wearied coast on the Baltic Sea. This is rare, radiant amber as sublime as love itself. Selected by talented artisans and heated ever-so-gently so it could be carefully molded into a plump, heart-shaped pendant . . . suspended from a glittering 24-inch sterling silver box chain for all the world to see."
"Wow," I murmured breathlessly in Polish to myself. For a minute there I actually forgot that I was reading a catalog instead of a novel about a passionate pair of talented artisans living together on a storm-wearied coast, ever-so-gently heating and molding and suspending plump things.
This gave me a great idea. Maybe I could expand my horizons by reading Coldwater Creek catalogs instead of actual books! Don't you think this paragraph "nestled" next to a picture of yet another heart-shaped necklace ought to qualify as a mini-novel?
"It wasn't a palace, but it was the house you found together, oozing romance and Old-World charm. Whispering all the right words, he swept you up and across the threshold, with an effortless grace you thought the world had long since lost. Recapture the sweet sentiment of the moment with this finely detailed, slightly updated one-inch Victorian sterling silver heart pendant."
I also enjoyed this caption found on another page: "Sink back under the shade of the old elm tree and reflect on those lost lazy summer days. Where, even while playing Maid Marion in the forest, you found time to pick berries along the trail. Here, the sweet innocence of those days comes rushing back in a high-waisted elderberry dress of cool cotton jersey interlock knit. . . . "
So I'm a totally well-rounded person again because I have a hobby, i.e., I read Coldwater Creek catalogs. I hope you'll excuse me now while I put on my new high-waisted elderberry dress (of cool, cotton jersey interlock knit) and get back to my story about that oozing cottage. . . .