🗣“What the hell, Ben! It’s four in the morning!”

The Daily Reader

It’s nearing four in the morning. And I’m zipping through Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, 2022’s number one best-selling debut novel in America.

I’m loving it so much, I feel a need to share the reading experience. But there’s no one around with whom to share it because, as I said, it’s four in the morning.

Also, despite the fact that Lessons in Chemistry is number one, I only know two people who have read it: Joan and Mary, two old friends.

I could call Joan or Mary. Except they’re not likely to be up at four in the morning. And if I were to call to share this fantabulous reading experience, they’d probably say something along the lines of . . .

“What the hell, Ben! It’s four in the morning!”

They’re Boomers, who go to bed like clockwork every night at around ten. And proud of it.

People have double standards about bedtime. If you go to bed early and get up early, it’s like you’re virtuous.

On the other hand, if, like me, you go to bed late and get up late, you’re a bum.

People have no problem calling me at, oh, ten in the morning and sneering . . .

“Are you still in bed?”

Like I’m committing a capital offense.

But call them at four in the morning? They’ll be giving you grief about it for days.

Anyway, about Lessons in Chemistry . . .

It tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant scientist who winds up hosting a TV cooking show in the early 60s. But it’s really about misogyny and prejudice against women. 

And it’s such a compelling and flawlessly-written tale that it hooks you. And you can’t stop reading—at least, I can’t. Which explains why I’m up at four in the morning looking for someone to talk to about it.

Ok, I’d probably be up late anyway, even if I was reading a boring book. But that’s another story.

It revives memories of my teenage years, when I’d be up late reading my favorite paperbacks by the little lamp next to my bed, even on a school night. 

Books like The Exorcist, Jaws, Ragtime, The Godfather. Especially The Godfather. God, I loved The Godfather. Loved it so much, I finished it and then immediately read it again.

Here’s a thought . . .

I could call Mary and Joan and disguise my voice when they answered. If they showed signs of grumpiness, I could say, ”Sorry, wrong number.” And then hang up.

That reminds me of Tom, a kid from my sixth grade class. He went through this phony phone call phase where he’d call people and, in what he thought was a disguised voice, said stupid stuff like, “Eat my shorts!”

Tom thought this was hilarious.

One time, he called the phone of Erickson, another friend. And just as he was hanging up, having said “eat my shorts,” Mrs. Erickson said, “Goodbye, Tom!”

Now that’s embarrassing.

On second thought—probably not a good idea to call anyone at four in the morning.

Instead, I’ll just go back to reading Lessons in Chemistry. There will be hell to pay tomorrow (or later today), when I officially wake up and try to get by on just a few hours of sleep. But Lessons is so good, it’s worth it—like The Godfather back in the day.

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Issue of
Feb. 23 – Mar. 8, 2023 
Vol. 52, No. 10

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