After the movie, I hung around Tinseltown and kibbitzed with the staff as long as my conscience would let me, and then had to fill nearly two hours before my next errand, bringing Dementia Chinese for supper. I could have gone by CLC to take a math placement test I have been putting off; I could have gone to Borders and hung out; I decided to just go to Jack's and hang out there.
Jack's has become our default carry out restaurant over the last two years; we tend to eat there about three times a week (one pizza and two sandwich orders). Every now and then, I stop by in the afternoon, intending to buy a Coke and sit and read for a while. It never works that way; they never let me pay for the Coke, and I usually don't get any reading done, because it is dead, and the waitress would rather talk to me that stand around and be bored. In competition with conversation with a pretty girl, the book doesn't stand a chance.
The usual waitress is lanky, hyper-kinetic Lexy, a some-fraction Naive American who likes unicorns, fairies, and splatter movies. On Tuesday, it was diminutive, red-haired Annie, who is usually on cashier duty. We talked for an hour and a half, and Annie displayed a great deal more depth than I hitherto suspected...
Somewhere along the line, I had an epiphany about the way people approach literature. There are two basic appetites that lead people to consume fiction: Hope, and Misery. Some people are looking for stories about people whose lives are in some way better than their own; they are looking for hope that there is something better out there. Others are looking for stories about people whose lives are worse than their own, and only want reassurance that they themselves are NOT the most miserable creatures under the sun. Happiness is an independent variable for the first group; "something better" is a valid quest whether you are happy or not. The second group, on the other hand, is either fundamentally unhappy, or evil (with, I think, the emphasis on the former). The second group also OWNS literary academia, which explains a great deal.