I am not an irritable person.
(Excuse me whilst I furtively look over my shoulder to make sure my my boyfriend doesn’t read this and laugh).
I really, really don’t think that I am, anyway. Although perhaps I’ve only become more aware of what may or may not irritate me and now give such things a wide berth.
Recently, I have come to notice, however, that when it comes to reading I have a remarkably short fuse. So much so that I’ve come to think that maybe it exists independently of my other fuses. Here I am, living day to day life with one thick and sturdy fuse that deals with bog-standard daily occurrences and smoulders away at a reasonable pace, and then there’s my Reading Fuse which, by all accounts, appears to be the consistency of dry straw.
I simply can’t help it; I need silence. Not even just silence from ‘people noises’ and (God forbid) chatter, but also from the sounds of animals, bugs, cars and music. Only last week I grew so frustrated with the constant buzz of cicadas outside my apartment (incidentally, they don’t have those in Britain and I have never been quite so taken aback by the noise that one bug can make) that I was forced to throw my book down and slam every window in the apartment shut. Of course, having been disturbed, it took a couple of pages for me to sink back into the story, but it was none the less necessary.
The problem, I feel, is that reading a good book is inviting you to into another world, and any slight distraction only hinders your entry. When I read a book on the train, it is impossible to escape from the bustle of everything around me. If I’m enjoying a book then I will read it anyway, but those two chapters between Liverpool Lime Street and Wallasey Grove Road will not be my preferred chapters – they can’t be, because I cannot fully immerse myself in the story and its characters whilst the woman on the seat next to me chides her granddaughter for opening the Maltesers without asking.
When I enjoy a book, I will read it all day, for hours and hours, and most likely finish it. This is testament to my reading style, rather my reading speed, because once I settle myself down comfortably, the windows firmly closed and cup of tea steaming on the windowsill next to me, I sink into a literary stupor where the world around me no longer exists. That is the beauty of books and the beauty of reading.
And then, when my boyfriend walks in to ask me whether I’ve seen his black basketball jersey, my thumb quivers ominously where its placed upon the book’s spine and I come dangerously close to spilling my tea as I recall furiously that said jersey is thrown over chair in the living room, where he could have easily found it without sparking THE FUSE.
…Sometimes I try and behave more appropriately. After all, no one likes a grump.
But it doesn’t tend to work out. My boyfriend is the type who often works from home and codes a lot. Every 5 to 10 minutes, he’ll take a break from his code to read a sports article from an Italian website that I can’t read, or to embark on a quick sejour onto YouTube. He has not yet come to understand quite how low THE FUSE is burning when he casually asks me whether I’d like to listen to James Bay’s Glastonbury performance again. I say ‘Of course not’ (as politely as I can), take a deep breath and angrily read the first line of a new paragraph about four times over before I am calm enough to continue in earnest.
I am willing to consider that this is a fault of MY character, rather than my lovely boyfriend, who only wants to share the magic of James Bay with me. But at some point I may have to lay down some ground rules. Perhaps hang a tie on the door when I don’t want to be disturbed or something similar.
There must be others who can relate to this, surely?
Or is my inner fuse system malfunctioning?