A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…well, actually it was around 1989, when I was in high school, a classmate came up to me and gasped. Her eyes popped out from their sockets. Why? Because she discovered me reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley at recess. It’s not the translation, I don’t even know if there was any translation for Frankenstein at that time. I was in my mood for horror classics, like Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sleepy Hollow, etc. I already used to classic literatures, thanks to my junior high’s English teacher who forced me to read Shakespeare while my friends were reading Lupus. Talk about torture! She said it’s good for improving my English. Yeah, right, everybody talk like Hamlet in real life. Doom shalt come to thee ere the sun rises! Beware!
Well, anyway. My said classmate didn’t gasp and acted like someone who just emerged from the deepest ocean there is (okay, enough Shakespeare!) because I read Frankenstein. It’s because I read at all! The conversation that followed went like this:
“You read?” she said with a kind of scandalized expression.
“Uh-huh…” I said, bewildered.
“Is it in English?” she said as if English is the dirtiest word in the whole universe.
“Yeee-aah?” I said, more confused.
“But, you don’t look like someone who reads. You’re…kinda…stylish.”
Oooh-kay! I wanted to say, “Who are you and what are you doing here? Get out of my face, please.” But I only laughed, humorless.
Is there any rule that differs the bookworm and the illiterate apart from the latter don’t carry books everywhere? Do bookworms have to look like someone who can’t even talk to people? Do people always expect bookworms to wear thick glasses and wear button-up shirt? I’m sorry, I didn’t need glasses, my eyes were just fine. And I preferred T-shirts with classic jeans and maybe a pair of boots. I listened to rock music and went crazy when Bon Jovi released a new album.
Was it because I was a cheerleader? Was it because I was in a band? Was it because I find talking with new people as easy as breathing? Explain, please! Hey, I didn’t even consider myself stylish. If you go to the major malls in Jakarta, then you see style! I don’t have enough money to be that stylish. Obviously I’m not a supermodel material, but I like dressing up. Can’t I be ‘stylish’ and a bookworm too? Some people are just plain ridiculous. They take the term ‘bookworm’ too literally. They think we’re creatures that dig holes and stay there in the dark for the rest of our lives, only to come out when rainwater flooded our cozy little holes of earth. Holes full of books, by the way.
Thank GOD I survived high school.