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.