I didn't think this was going to be easy.
I assumed they'd fight me on it.
I expected hesitation.
ANTHONY: No way.
I even thought there'd be crying.
Mostly because I know Alicia.
BRAD: You can't be serious.
All this just to start--
--A Book Club.
ME: So, let's talk about the book.
I decided that my proteges needed to educate themselves a bit. Part of the reason they never have anything to talk about with anyone is because their entire cultural frame of reference consists of VH1 and clips from The Soup.
AARON: What if we didn't read the book?
ME: I guess we move on to the talent portion of the afternoon.
ME: No, Aaron! It's a Book Club. Reading the book is sort of essential.
I had everyone--including Brad--meet me at the local Barnes and Noble after giving them two weeks to read one of my favorite books--Christopher Rice's A Density of Souls.
Unfortunately, there was a little too much density and a massive lack of soul.
AJ: I read, like, the first chapter.
ME: Brad, maybe he did.
BRAD: AJ, when you say first chapter--
AJ: Fine, the first page.
AJ: The first line. It sounded boring.
ME: At least you didn't try and fake it by quoting from the back cover.
ANTHONY: Damn! How did you know I was going to do that?
I turned to Alicia. I knew she wouldn't let me down.
ALICIA: Um, I sort of, read something else.
ME: Oh, well...that's okay. A Book Club is meant to be a place of sharing.
AARON: In that case, can we talk about this guy I--
ME: Sharing about books, Aaron! Books!
AJ: Apparently books make you bitchy.
ME: Alicia, you have the floor.
BRAD: I wish I had a mimosa.
Alicia took a magazine out of her bag.
ALICIA: Have you guys read US Weekly?
ME: Alicia! That's not a book.
ALICIA: But it's reading.
ME: No it's not!
ALICIA: Kevin, there are articles.
BRAD: Tell us, Alicia, whose fat this week?
ALICIA: Brooke Hogan.
AJ: Please, that bitch is fat every week.
Everyone in the B&N Cafe turned and looked at me. I decided I needed to try a different approach.
ANTHONY; We're in trouble. I can tell. He's got that look on his face like he just peed himself.
BRAD: Know that look well, do you, Anthony?
I stood up.
ME: Since none of you read this book--and since you clearly have no intention of reading it or anything else that has more substance to it than the back of a ketchup bottle--I might as well tell you what you missed.
BRAD: Lots of intellectual rambling?
AARON: A convoluted storyline?
AJ: Big words like convoluted?
ANTHONY: A plot and shit?
ALICIA: Whatever it was it CANNOT be as good as what Kate from Jon and Kate was wearing on--
That shut them up--I smiled.
ME: You missed gay sex, straight sex, murder, floods, depravity, sin, grudges, revenge, scandal--and not one, but four twists.
They looked at each other wondering if they'd made a mistake.
ME: You see I picked this book because I wanted to get you guys excited about reading and enlightening yourselves. Expanding your horizons. But I knew if I just shot you out of the Jane Eyre cannon, you'd have been turned off. So I started you out with something more to your liking, but you all decided to pass on it. Fair enough.
I dropped a copy of the book on the table. Then I drove the knife into their hearts.
ME: Oh, and I forgot to mention. The whole thing takes place in New Orleans--dirty, hot, sultry New Orleans.
As I turned and started walking away, I caught them out of the corner of my eye--grabbing and pulling at the book I left on the table like wild beasts going at a deer carcass--wanting to find out what happened in it.
Now that's how you get kids excited about summer reading.