I like to think of myself as a logical person. And compared to most women I meet-- I am. I recently joined a book club with some other moms in my area and I'm currently struggling to get through yet another book that I have no interest in. I logically thought that joining a book club among my peers would be good for me: broaden my horizons and all that nonsense. And I won't say it hasn't introduced me to some titles that I actually liked very much, but overall I've realized that what tickles my fancy doesn't often coincide with that of other people. I'm very good at dissecting books and listing the reasons why I don't like what I'm reading and in doing so I have discovered that my logic actually often gives way to emotional triggers when reading. In other words-- a book can be relatively poorly written, but if it has the right emotional payoff I can overlook almost any flaw.
I have also realized that the personality traits that make me the kind of person who prefers sci-fi over soap-operas also makes it really hard to find common ground with women who want to read stories about the emotional journey of losing a child/spouse/parent etc. etc., ad nauseum. Or the journey of child/spouse/parent with cancer/alzheimer's or other tragic disease. Why do people read this stuff?
Well, to be fair, I suppose people read that stuff because it resonates with something inside them. Perhaps it's a situation that they've dealt with and they need the solace in knowing they are not alone. Or some other psychobabble-- I don't know. So what does that say about me? Why do I want books that are completely outside of the real world? Why do I prefer an emotional journey that features magic, vampires, sword fighting and many other things I'm unlikely to encounter in this lifetime? I don't know-- and I can't afford the therapy to figure that out.
But the one thing I have really gotten out of this book-club journey is the realization that I'm not as logical as I thought. I'm not interested in broadening my horizons. What I'm really looking for is the connection one gets from meeting other people who are interested in the same things; pretty much all the reasons I started this blog.
What has stood out to me is the fact that what feeds me emotionally when I read is vastly different than what feeds my real life-- though it's not a universal rule.
Revenge Stories: Love them. I get a vicarious thrill from watching movies like "Payback" and "Kill Bill." But I'm not at all vengeful in real life. Seriously. When I feel wronged, I stew for a bit and then walk away. I might fantasize about a few bits of petty revenge, but I would never, ever act on it. I've never even called ex-boyfriends just to hang up on them (back in the day when we could do that). I suppose I admire the chutzpah of the people in those movies. Wouldn't it be great to just act on your impulses like that?
So what other triggers do I have?
Impossible Romance: Don't look at me that way-- I am a girl after all. I admit it, I'm a sucker for "Pride and Prejudice" and I've viewed it a bazillion times. I don't watch a lot of romantic comedies but when I do I tend to trend toward the ones that feature the classic Cinderella story. In fact-- I like Cinderella stories of all kinds. Give me a good against-the-odds football story like "The Blind Side" and I'll cry like a baby. But, like the revenge-thing, I've never had this particular struggle in real life. I was never attracted to the bad boys and I hate the emotional roller-coaster of unstable relationships. Hate it! But I do like happy endings, so that must be it.
Comic Book Heroes (being saved by...): When other women tell me they don't like comic book movies I'm baffled. Who couldn't love Batman? I mean seriously. There are few movies that will get me in line faster than anything featuring someone who wears an armored suit of some sort. I guess I am a sucker for a guy in uniform-- who knew? I don't think this is a hard one to figure out. Justice is hard to come by and many caped crusaders operate on the vigilante side of the street-- so it goes hand-in-hand with my love of revenge flicks. Only in costume! But what really gets me in the gut are the moments when the hero swoops in to save the day. I hope I'm never dangling off a bridge in a bus-- but if I am I would love to live in a world where there's a chance that Superman could hoist us all to safety.
Vindication: Something tells me this is probably a universal trigger. How many times have we been sure of something only to have everyone we know tell us we're nuts? My personal grudge comes from arguing with people over the housing market during the boom-- try to tell a house flipper you think the market it going to take a turn for the worse; it doesn't go over well. And do they ever admit you were right? Never. So seeing a movie or reading a book that validates the main character is sooo satisfying. I think J.K. Rowling had this down to a science in the Harry Potter series. Almost every book had a situation in which Harry tried to warn everyone about Voldemort-- only to be met with scorn. And then, events play out and Harry is vindicated. And the best part is that Harry actually gets credit for being right! I get a rush just thinking about it.
Outsider Success Stories: I blame John Hughes for this one. "Pretty in Pink," "Breakfast Club," "Some Kind of Wonderful" and "Sixteen Candles" all featured lovable misfits who come out on top. Mostly they negotiate the treacherous world of high school and pitfalls that come with trying to edge up in rank among the cliques. I watch those movies and think that's me! And no matter how well we do in our adult lives those insecurities never leave and it's nice to think that sometimes the nerds do finish first.
Well, I think I've exhausted my well of clichés for the day (I wrote this in a rush). So now it's your turn. What flips your emotional switches?