Fear of Coco stops me from hitting the books

Coco keeps me from reading.

Coco in Tribeca neighborhood of New York City

Photo by David Shankbone

I’m not talking about the E! star, Ice-T’s wife.

I’m talking about Coco, my fellow English major who was in almost every college class I had about literature. I don’t know what her real name is. Coco’s the name she gave herself when she started college. At least, that’s what I heard. I also heard she picked it because she liked Coco Chanel.

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel

I’m not sure about any of that. What I am sure of is that she was annoying. (To be clear, I’m talking about my college classmate. Based on a Lifetime movie I sort of watched but don’t remember that starred Shirley MacLaine, Coco Chanel is the reason women can wear pants. That makes her OK in my book. Wait. I just read that Wikipedia post about her. Based on the fact that she popularized suntans, I now believe Coco Chanel to be evil.)

Anyway, my classmate Coco was devoted to Feminist Literary Theory. Devoted isn’t strong enough. She was obsessed with it, consumed by it. Like any other true believer, it was the only thing she talked about. Every time she opened her mouth in class you knew exactly what she was going to say and the arguments she was going to use to support her point. (To be fair, she may have talked about something else outside of class. Her devotion to the topic during class made me unwilling to try to get to know her any better.)

Feminist Literary Theory is fine, as far as it goes. There are a number of other theories with other advocates in my classes whose comment were just as predictable. Those conversations drained all the joy of reading out of me.

What little was left was extinguished by the papers I wrote.  

I loved Moby Dick. Read everything Robert Frost ever wrote. Have countless lines of Emily Dickinson stuck in my head. Was devoted to Mark Twain. I even got the first volume of his autobiography when it was published recently. I hate to admit I haven’t read much of it. It is a really big book, but I haven’t read much of anything since I graduated with my English Lit degree.

I don’t think I’ve recovered from having to write 10 page papers about everything I read and discussing it with Coco.


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