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I waited for about two weeks before I bought Room, by Emma Donoghue.
I first read a review of Room a while back in Entertainment Weekly, and the premise of it both intrigued me and haunted me. The review said it was told in the perspective of a 5-year-old boy who's the song of an abducted woman, and that the boy and the woman live in an 11x11 room where she's (and he's) being held captive.
That kind of idea sounded incredible, and made me almost immediately want to read the book... while at the same time I didn't want to read it, either. I was so worried about reading Room, in fact, that it was nearly two weeks before I even put it on my Kindle's wish list.
But it made it onto the list, and when I finished reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, I still had about $12 on my account to buy the next book. Freedom not being one of those books that made me want to wait a while before going on to the next book, I was ready to buy one right away... and kept going back and just looking at the listing for Room. Looking at, but not buying it.
I don't like stories about little kids in trouble, as a general rule. Sweetie and I went to see Black Swan at the Rich People's Theater last week and one of the previews was for Rabbit Hole, a movie in which (I quickly gathered) something happens to Robotic Nicole Kidman's movie son and she and her husband spend the movie dealing with it. Just watching the preview made me get a knot in my stomach, and after it was over, I leaned over to Sweetie and said "I don't want to see that."
Yeah, I'm that type of person: I think a little talking in between the previews and before the movie itself starts is okay. I talk quietly, though, so don't get all mad at me.
I also, and this is possibly relevant, leave my cell phone on during the movie, and don't get mad at me about that, either, because I do it for a reason: If I am at a movie, I'm there with Sweetie. The last time I went to see a movie without Sweetie was 1994, when I went to see a movie in Washington, D.C., by myself. I didn't know Sweetie in 1994, and I was only at the movie (It was a Naked Gun movie, because I know you're wondering) by myself because I didn't feel like going to my internship that day but didn't really have anything else to do.
That's also the only time in my life I've ever gone to see a movie alone. I've done lots of other things alone, although many times I wasn't truly "alone" in that I was not the only person who was doing that thing that day. In that sense, I wasn't alone at the D.C. theater at all; there were other people there seeing the movie, too. I was alone only in the sense that I had nobody who was purposefully there with me -- while there were other people around, they were there by chance and had no connection with me other than that they happened to be in the same place at the same time.
It's in that sense that I've done lots of other things alone -- sometimes really alone, or as alone as one can be living in the U.S., as when I'm jogging or walking alone on the nature trail near my house -- only I'm not really alone at all, I just can't see anyone else, but I can hear the traffic from the streets not far away and I can see houses through breaks in the trees and now and then other people come by, jogging or biking or walking alone, too -- and sometimes not so alone, as when (in D.C. again) I toured the White House alone in a group of about 50 people.
I don't see movies alone anymore, not in public; that seems too weird and loner-ish and makes me feel like the Unabomber, so I'm glad I live in an era when I can watch movies alone at home and enjoy them without having to share them with the crowd, because sometimes I don't want to be around people while I'm experiencing art.
If I do see movies, I see them with Sweetie; since I met her I have not been in a movie theater unless Sweetie was sitting next to me in a seat, sometimes with other people with us, sometimes just with Sweetie and me, but Sweetie is the constant in my movie theater equation -- not the cosmological constant, because she exists and isn't made up like Einstein's fictional number or dark matter -- just the constant.
And, since the Babies! were born, what that means, that Sweetie is my Theater Constant, is that the Babies! are at home with someone else taking care of them. And that's why I leave my cell phone on: Because if I'm with Sweetie and the Babies! are not with us, they're with someone who's less qualified than either Sweetie and I to take care of them, which means that it's that much more likely that there will be an emergency that requires my attention. It might be a small emergency, like the time they were at the day care at our health club and I was jogging at the track and a worker came to get me, flagging me down.
"What is it?" I asked, taking off my headphones.
"I'm sorry to bother you," she said, and explained that there was a problem with Mr F.
"What's wrong?" I asked, as we walked back up to the daycare.
"He just got really sad, for no reason," she told me, and I got up there, and it was true: Mr F was sad, and about to cry, and perked up when he saw me.
Or it might be a big emergency, but either way, I'm not taking any chances. I don't turn off my cell phone in movies because if there's an emergency of any sort -- injury, fire, sadness -- I want to know about it.
Don't get all huffy, either, because if it does ring, I leave the theater and take the call, and I'm sorry if your movie-going experience is bothered by a momentary interruption, but before you get all indignant, tell me whether you've ever gotten up in the middle of a movie to use the bathroom. If you have, then you agree that movies can be interrupted even for complete nonemergencies like "having to pee" so don't get mad that I let them get interrupted for real emergencies.
And, yes, sadness is an emergency.
It's because of that -- because I'm such an extreme nutcase as a parent that I'm pretty convinced that if I leave my cell phone off for two hours, Mr F will become really sad and then will spontaneously combust, lighting the entire house into a giant flaming eruption of death that'll take Mr Bunches with it while he was trying innocently to balance on his Sit & Spin on top of the end table, and, because I'm such an extreme-r nutcase that I believe that if I have my cell phone on, I could somehow avert that disaster -- that I was reluctant to read Room: because I cannot, nowadays, hear about something bad happening to a kid somewhere without immediately picturing that something bad happening to one of my kids, and having to live through that. When people get abducted, when soldiers die, when someone is in a car accident on their way to Thanksgiving dinner, I have a burst of empathy and instantly think what if that was Oldest? Middle? Mr Bunches? and so on.
That's the end of part one. I have to go help Mr Bunches with his new toy train and then Mr F wants me to spin him around in a blanket. DUTY CALLS!
Go on to part two.