Have you finished The Silmarillion? It’s been a week or two and so maybe you have. I saw you again on the subway and now I want to know. Did you like it?
I saw you the first time on the bus home one night, I think after my night class, so probably at around 8:30 or 9:00. You were with a man I assume is your dad. You look about twelve: you’ve got olive skin and long brown hair drawn up in a neat bun. You might be Jewish. You’re almost definitely a ballerina, something I originally guessed because of your hair and your grace and slenderness, and then mostly confirmed when I saw your National Ballet School gym bag.
You were buried in The Silmarillion and I don’t think you looked up once the entire time that we were both on the bus. Not that I watched you the whole time or anything. I hope you don’t get a creeper vibe from this. But you were very obviously deeply concentrating on the text. Actually, the book was the first thing I noticed about you. The Hobbit wouldn’t have surprised me as a choice of reading material, nor even The Lord of the Rings although the latter is a big old read and I didn’t get into it until I was still a fair few years older than you.
Seriously: The Silmarillion is intense. It’s dense and full of unpronounceable names and obscure items of historical and linguistic interest. I couldn’t get through it at all, and I’ve read The Lord of the Rings at least a half-dozen times. Actually, just this week someone BookMooched my copy off of my hands. It cost me a dollar more to mail it to him, actually, than it would have cost if I had taken the time and the subway fare to hand-deliver it. But I digress.
I saw you and your dad again the other night, although you weren’t reading anything then. I wanted to speak up, to ask you if you had finished the book, but I didn’t want to be that weirdo on the subway, and at any rate the two of you moved to the other end of the car and didn’t get off at my stop this time. So I didn’t ask you.
I just wanted you to know, though, how happy it made me to see you that first night. See, I love reading. It gives me great pleasure, and when I see someone obviously enjoying a book it makes me happy to see them do that. And, I don’t know why exactly, when I see a young person reading it feels almost like a personal triumph of some sort. I can’t really explain it, but that’s how I feel. So it made me doubly-glad to see you reading. Plus, Tolkein is fantastic.
So, Dancer. I hope you finished your book and that you loved it. If you haven’t read The Lord of the Rings yet, you should do that next. It’s okay to skip the second half of The Two Towers, though — I always did that after the first or second time. It’s just Frodo and Sam being lost in Mordor for a few hundred pages. Nothing much happens. Don’t you think?
Maybe the next time I see you, I’ll ask.