Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Joined a Book Club and All I Got Was Drama, Part I

Lately I have been questioning the point of book clubs. Do people join them to read more books, to talk about books and reading, to learn about new titles that might be interesting to read, to meet people? All of the above? None of the above?

Since joining this book club, I have read a total of three books (in their entirety, I think) and part of a couple books--not to mention the one title I did not read at all. And no, I have not started the one for this month yet. . . although I was startled to open the local Catholic newspaper this week and find an article featuring a discussion with the author. (Presupposing "an audience that doesn't believe in anything" doesn't do much to up the interest factor for me.)

Aside from getting acquainted with some of the new neighbors in my parents' neighborhood and some of their friends, and re-meeting some people I haven't seen since I delivered their newspaper, the only extended communications I've had with members have been with the strange ones. Honestly, I must be magnet for the drama people.

Like Leona.

And now, "Jolene."

Jolene hosted a couple meetings ago--The Other Wes Moore, a meeting I didn't get the chance to recap here. (I am pretty sure someone tried to call my mom racist during that meeting, too.) And then Jolene was the one pushing people to move the June meeting and attend her event in its originally scheduled place. If you read to the bottom of that post, you'll see that she also was pushing to introduce me to her son but didn't quite know now.

All that stuff going at once makes your head swim, doesn't it? That's what happens when you get involved with Jolene. She sells nutritional supplements. She talks about meditation and going on retreat. Don't get her started about her ex-husband. Oh, and she feels perfectly free to ask you about things she wants you to do for her that sound mutually beneficial but really aren't.

At the beginning of the summer, I was able to fend off the offer of a summer job organizing her business files and papers. It's not really my thing, and I really did not want an intimate view of her business--they say don't mix business with friends, and I was trying to keep her firmly in the "book club friend" category.

But when she called sounding desperate for help with a computer problem, well, those pleas are just too hard to resist. Adding to the allure was the offer to pay me at a time when my little summer job had ended just the week before. (And the air conditioning in the car broke, twice. . . and the cat's special medicine cost twice as much as the other medicine. . . ) I was going away for the weekend, but she pinned me down to the Monday morning after.

Monday morning came, and it took several series of knocks to get her to answer the door. She hid behind it, and I could tell she was half-dressed. Should I have called first? I wondered.

It turned out, she said as she apologized for her forgetfulness, that her elderly mother needed to go to the ER. I understood, I told her, and added that she could just get in touch me with whenever, to set up a new date and time. She already started talking about Wednesday, and I just kind of nodded, figuring it was subject to change.

Well, Tuesday morning, she called. First, we talked about Wednesday. Afternoon, I pleaded, because I had errands to run. (The errands wound up scrapped for a favor to my parents, as the plumber was scheduled to come at a time when both would be out.) However, once we settled that, she started talking about how difficult her mother was but she needed to visit her in the hospital this afternoon. Her brother was tied up but she could really use someone to go with her. I was silent.

Um, me?

Yeah, she asked me to go with her--you know, experience her difficult mother firsthand and act as a support/hand-holder/shield/diversion. Again, BOUNDARIES. "I'm sorry, I already have plans for today," I said. Which I did, but even if I didn't, the plans to save my sanity were in play at the least.

The following day--where of course the plumber showed up three minutes after my dad walked in the door--I ate lunch at my parents' and walked to Jolene's house. I'd be lying if I said the thought didn't cross my mind that things would be canceled again without my knowledge. But she answered the door, and while I can forgive the disorganization that comes with having a family member in the hospital, she had absolutely nothing arranged for me to sit with her or look at her computer or whatever it was that she wanted me to do.

Which I still wasn't clear about.

To be continued. . .


ccr in MA said...

Uh-oh. Bad feeling about this.

I was in a book club back when I lived in NC, and I joined it because I thought it would get me to read books I wouldn't have picked up otherwise. It did ... but I didn't like a one of them! I was in that club about two years, and the only book I liked was the one I chose. Which didn't even have a good discussion. Sigh.

I just went to a book club meeting at my new job, but don't know if I'll do the next one. I hate to buy a book in hardcover that I might not like, and with over 1000 requests on it at the library, I'd never get it in time. Decisions...

Kate P said...

I know, CCR! And even if they're not in hardcover, every book club in the world is reading the same title and there are still 1000 requests at the library. . . and it just KILLS me to buy a book I don't like and will never read again. (At least Mom and I are sharing, and I get an educator's discount at both indie and "big" bookstores.)

I am on the verge of joining Paperback Swap to see if that will make a difference.