My birthday is coming up. And I believe I’ll land somewhere between thirty-three and thirty-five.
I began reading Water for Elephants yesterday. Here are the opening lines to Chapter One:
“I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other. When you’re five, you know your age down to the month. Even in your twenties you know how old you are. I’m twenty-three you say, or maybe twenty-seven. But then in your thirties something strange starts to happen. It’s a mere hiccup at first, an instant of hesitation. How old are you? Oh, I’m—you start to say confidently, but then you stop. You were going to say thirty-three, but you’re not. You’re thirty-five. And then you’re bothered, because you wonder if this is the beginning of the end. It is, of course, but it’s decades before you’ll admit it.”
Very well, then. I’m preparing to embrace the beginning of the end.
On another note, literary agent, Nathan Bransford is holding a first paragraph contest and it has surged thoughts in me about what I like and don’t like about first paragraphs. I’ve wanted to read Water for Elephants for years. And now I see why. Paragraphs like the one above make me want to take a bath with the book. Let me explain: When you are five you know your age down to the month, but you also get swept up in another world in the bathtub. I remember my people toys really getting into those fish and chips at the shop suctioned to the bath tile. When a bath is that good you don’t want to leave it. You don’t want to step out into the frigid air. I want to bathe with this book, I tell you (I’m not thinking my friend who let me borrow it would much appreciate that, however). But even after reading the first few pages, I’m lost in it and tucked in. It excites me to think of reading a page over and over, my mental equivalent of sopping soapy water over the bath toys in a LaLa Land of literary bubbles.
So, I may be getting old. We had family pictures taken last weekend and my crow’s feet decided to make a strong appearance. I may be getting old, but books…they are cleansing, age-defying and timeless. And they provide a nice distraction from thinking about the beginning of the end. Bath time! Who needs a rubber ducky anymore?
Two questions to choose from:
What age did you hit before you said, “I am getting old?” or what age will you hit before you say those words?
What book has made you feel like a five-year-old kid in the bathtub, soaking up every word and drifting to another land altogether?
*photos by flickr
**and somehow it all connects: elephants have wrinkles, wrinkles come with age, and long baths produce…wrinkles. Here’s to wrinkles!