Monday, May 14, 2012

Things you shouldn't show strangers on planes

Before last week's trip to Kauai, I loaded my Kindle with a dozen books I've been eager to read. My family's go-go-go-go! schedule left approximately 13 minutes of reading time in the six-day trip, which meant I didn't start reading Fifty Shades of Grey until I boarded the plane for home.

In case you're not familiar with the book, it's a wildly popular erotic fiction tale that's raised eyebrows by jetting to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and thrusting (snicker) whips and chains and bondage into the mainstream spotlight.

In other words, not the ideal reading selection when seated next to a stranger curious about e-readers.

"Is that a Kindle?" my seatmate asked not thirty seconds after I flipped it on.

Since we were sitting close enough to share an armrest, I couldn't pretend not to hear her. "It is a Kindle," I agreed, hoping that might conclude the discussion.

"I've never seen one up close before," she said. She peered at my screen, which displayed a detailed description of a sex act that's illegal in several states. "I read a lot of books and I like to take notes on the pages when I read. Can you do that with a Kindle?"

"Sure," I told her. "See, you put the cursor here, like this." I highlighted the words nipple clamps in illustration. "Then you can type like this, and it will highlight the text so you know there's a note there."

To demonstrate, I typed remember to buy some.

"Oh," she said. I couldn't tell from her tone if she was impressed or dismayed, and whether it was a response to the words or the device's functionality. Either way, she was determined to press on.

"Does it have a dictionary?" she asked. "I like to look up words I don't know when I'm reading."

"That's a good question," I said. "I think it does, but I've never used that feature. Let me see."

I highlighted the word fisting and began hunting through the Kindle menu for a dictionary function. My seatmate watched with rapt attention as I poked buttons and scrolled through menus.

"Sorry, I can't find it," I said at last.

"Maybe you have to be in a WiFi zone?"

"Could be. I think it varies from Kindle to Kindle. You can scope them out online."

"Thanks. I think I will."

And with that, she went back to her paperback and I returned to reading a scene that detailed an inventive use for a necktie.

You'd think I might have learned my lesson from that experience, but no. Saturday morning found me sitting at a Little League game alternately cheering for my gentleman friend's offspring and shielding my Kindle screen from the over-exuberant mom beside me who, bizarrely, kept screaming, "way to get a piece!" at batters who made contact with the ball.

Luckily, no one made conversation with either of us.

What's the oddest thing you've been caught reading in public? Has the popularity of e-readers allowed you get away with purchasing selections you might ordinarily hesitate to be seen reading? Please share!

I have to go shop for those nipple clamps.


Hanna said...

After those few times when I tried watching the latest episode of True Blood on the train to work I haven't had any problems with reading anything whatsoever in public. I think the experince might have broken me in some way...

Chihuahua Zero said...

Really, I'm more embarrassed about what I write than what I read.

Still, amusing story on your part.

Jessica Lemmon said...

Haha! Great story! I read 50 Shades at home, so I have no such tales!

Patty Blount said...

The funniest incident I have continues to be one I've shared before... I have a friend who is a Catholic deacon. I'm a big Laurel K. Hamilton fan and was reading the latest in her Meredith Gentry series called "Swallowing Darkness."

"Darkness" is a guy's name. :)

Then there was the time the same friend picked up a paperback called Sighs Matter and flipped right to the love scene and read it out loud.

I still have not recovered.

Jessica Bell said...

LOL, how funny. I don't tend to read in public, I do most of my reading at home. When I go out, I'm one of those women with the white cords coming out of her ears ... :o)

Linda G. said...

Snort! Something tells me you're a very entertaining travel companion. ;)

Noelle Pierce said...

I can't think of what the oddest thing was, but then, I have no problem with reading blatant erotica in front of people. Y'know what? I take that back. The Penthouse Letters collection of "Wives Gone Wild" is probably the one that caused a bit of a blush when I read it at Starbucks. Purely for research, of course. ;)

Oh, and thanks for reminding me to get some nipple clamps. :D

Rachel said...

I read Fifty Shades (& loved it) on a bus filled with school kids every day. They are so oblivious, I could have been reading anything and they wouldn't have noticed. I don't care what I read & where. If your reading over my shoulder, good luck to you ! I have read some passages of books over other peoples shoulders & gone on to buy and enjoy their book. So you never know who or where you might be making a future reader.

Roni Loren said...

Lol, this happens to me but it's when I'm working on my own stuff. (I write the whips and cuffs variety of erotic romance as well.) I figure if someone is nosy enough to read over my shoulder or to ask to see the kindle, they view at their own risk.

Sara said...

In a hotel room with some of my closest friends we took turns trying to read innocuous books in a perverted way...the best was one of the final battle scenes from Mistborn, there is lots of flipping people about, and thrusting things in their direction in that.

RamblingWords said...

Tawna, this post made me laugh out loud many times! You have such a wicked sense of humor. I just love it. Thanks for this wonderful post.



Karen L said...

Tawna - My experience was also on an airplane. I was traveling alone and a gentleman across the aisle asked about my Kindle. Of course I was reading something highly inappropriate for his eyes at the time, so I tried to quickly change the book before handing it over to him. I'm not sure which bothered me the most - his inquiry, or the non-English speaking woman sitting next to me gripping the armrest and praying during take-off and landing. At least she didn't ask questions about my Kindle!

BTW - did you enjoy Shades??

CKHB said...

Please tell me you've seen this:

Tawna Fenske said...

Karen L, I'm not quite done with the book, but enjoying it so far. I think I'll write another post on the subject later, as the book touches on one of my big pet peeves :)

CKHB, indeed, I laughed so hard I cried when I first saw that!


Anonymous said...

I was lunching by myself at the Olive Garden yesterday, reading a romance on my iPad. The waiter came over, asked me what I was reading. When I said a romance novel, he asked if it was 50 Shades! I think he was disappointed when I said no...

Karin said...

This is really adult stuff: I was going to Moscow to participate at a Russian Academy presentation of a Swedish book, translated into Russian. The book was VERY scolarly and I happened to work at the institution that had procuced it. On the plane were also the six very erudit professors who had written the book. I had a Harry Potter book to read on the plane (to be able to discuss it with my children). And every one of the professors came up to me and asked what I was reading. And they all had difficulties to find an intelligent comment to my choice of travel literature...