Sunday, August 24, 2014

Testosterone, Hardness and Book Covers

By Mahlia Lindquist

I’ve always assumed attributes like age, religion, political leanings, hobbies, intellect and sexual proclivities could be gleaned from a person’s choice of books.  A complete set of Robert Ludlam’s novels, and we’re talking a middle-aged, mainstream white guy. The Road Less Travelled suggests someone who has suffered a major personal crises. Books about  gardening, cooking and Blogging for Dummies are self-explanatory. 

At least, that’s what I thought until a humiliating incident at an Apple store changed my mind. 

It was at a tutorial taught by an Apple “Genius.” Like most of the Geniuses, mine was practically a baby. She sported sparkly red glasses, purple hair and a large tattoo of Einstein on her bicep. As usual when in the midst of computer talk, once class began, my mind wandered.

I wondered if the Genius’ mom approved of the tattoo… I decided that while I'm generally not keen on tattoos, it would be hard to argue with Einstein if one of my girls wanted one…. I envisioned the Genius’s bookshelf and saw titles such as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and books about quantum physics…. My Genius was hip and competent and I contemplated whether she might have the same impression of me, my age and attendance at an iPad class notwithstanding. 

My reverie was interrupted when the Genius took my iPad to demonstrate the reader application. Given my own tendency to judge a person by his book covers, I was horrified when she clicked on the recently purchased titles:

                     The Testosterone Syndrome
                     The Hardness Factor

At that moment I was relieved the list didn’t include 50 Shades of Gray. My next thought was regret it didn’t at least include quality erotica. (Query: is there something like a Booker Prize or Pulitzer for erotica?)

I thought Apple Geniuses were trained to maintain a cheerful, neutral demeanor at all times. To not exhibit impatience while explaining the mute button to yet another technological simpleton insisting the audio is broken. To pretend not to see the flash of pornographic photos during iPhoto trainings.  Yet, I’m certain I detected a smirk from my Genius.

My first impulse was to point out the other books I had downloaded.  Ulysses, War and Peace — surely they suggest a passable intellect and depth of character, a certain retro cool intelligence? (Never mind that those novels represent lofty aspirations rather than ones I’ve actually read.) My second impulse was to explain why I was interested in the sexual desires of women, testosterone and hardness: “you see, I’m writing this book…you can be sure that don’t have those sorts of issues…purely research.”

I resisted such defensive maneuvers as demeaning. Also, almost certainly futile in any event. The Genius was not going to believe I was writing a book (even though I am, I am, I am!)  And she would never find me to be hip and competent. In fact, even if she and I were the same age, even if I had books about astrophysics rather than books suggesting sexual frustration, she is too cool for school to be inclined toward friendship with me. <Sigh>

But then again, maybe it’s best not to judge a book (or a person) by its cover (or tattoo.) Whose to say a girl with Einstein body art won’t find a technology challenged middle aged lady with books about testosterone and erections to be super cool?

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