When I was young and prone to a terrible, racking cough, my mom would pull out the most awful tasting, blue-green prescription medicine. She wasn’t one to buy into the “spoonful of sugar making the medicine go down” theory. In fact, she wouldn’t even let me take a sip of water after I’d swallowed the terrible concoction because she didn’t want its power diluted.
I dreaded taking it—even though I knew it would be good for me in the long run. To keep from coughing, I’d hold my breath. I’d cram my face down into a pillow to muffle the noise. I’d hide out in the bathroom awhile. But eventually Mom would hear the coughs and whip out a teaspoon and that vile liquid. I can still remember the horrendous taste decades later, and my mouth will start to water (NOT in anticipation of something good). The aftertaste was strong and bitter, lingering for many minutes.
Eventually, though, my cough would cease. So I learned doing something you don’t like but that can be good for you does work out in the long run. I’ve tried to apply that lesson to several things in life—from studying for a test in a much-reviled subject to going through labor to give birth to my daughter. The studying and course only lasted a semester and helped me earn my college degree. The labor produced the miracle of a miniature combination of my husband and myself in this tiny person who’s grown into an exceptional adult.
This lesson can even apply to the small things in life, such as my book club. Now I adore the ladies in Bookworms. Besides talking over books, we share everything from our opinions on politics and fashion to recipes and our families. Almost always, I fall in love with the book chosen for that month. Many times it’s something I’ve never heard of or wouldn’t have thought to pick up and read, but doing so has brought hours of pleasure. Even once or twice when someone’s chosen a novel that I read and didn’t much care for, I still loved discussing its various aspects. Many times through our discussion, I gain new insight and come to look at the book in an entirely new light.
Then came the upcoming selection for October. A Barbara Kingsolver book. I’ve never been able to get into her novels. Everyone raved about The Poisonwood Bible . . . except me. It was like when The English Patient came out. I think Ralph Fiennes is so talented, but it went on way too long. I would’ve edited 20 minutes outta that baby and tightened it up so that it really did deserve that Oscar for Best Picture. Everyone loved it, though, so I learned to keep quiet and smile politely whenever the subject came up.
Until Elaine on Seinfeld expressed my opinion. She didn’t like The English Patient. She said everything I’d thought about the movie. Even though she was a fictional character, I appreciated her spunk in standing up.
But I have to hearken back to my ‘take the cough medicine’ experience. Although I never could abide the taste, that stuff worked its magic—and I was glad in the long run that I’d taken it. I really respect the Bookworm who selected Flight Behavior. She smart and funny and very caring, and I know she must really love this Kingsolver book to have made it her choice for the year. I need to trust her judgment and go for it.
So I’m going to open the book now and begin. And if I wind up not caring for it? Then I’m in for a lively discussion with a terrific group of women.
That’s always a winner in my book.