“You can tell a lot about a person by his reading habits.”
It’s true, thought Kara. It was something her Dad had said many times when she lived at home. Whenever Kara brought home any friends from school, Dad always found a way to bring the topic around to reading.
“What are you reading in school? Do you like that book? Why? What do you like the best?” It was embarrassing the way he grilled her friends, especially the boys.
“I’m not grilling them; I’m making polite conversation.”
On move-in day in the freshman dorm, the first thing Dad asked her new roommate Darleen was, “What kind of books do you like to read?” He just couldn’t fathom anyone not liking to read. After the grilling of the roommate, Dad announced, “You two should get along just fine.” That was three years ago. In the semesters since, Kara and Darleen had become the best of friends.
After leaving home, Dad’s observations started to make more sense. That’s why Kara always suggested a bookstore date early in any dating relationship. It was a good way to check out the boyfriend potential. If a guy balked at a bookstore date, he rarely made it beyond that point in the dating relationship.
Hatboy, from her American Civil War History class had finally gotten the nerve together to ask Kara out. She knew his real name was Mike, but she thought of him as “Hatboy” since he liked to wear different hats to class. He frequently wore either a Confederate gray hat, or a Union blue hat to this class. She had seen him around campus with other hats on too.
“Would you like to go out sometime?”
Since it was open ended, she asked, “How about the bookstore sometime?”
Hatboy jumped at the idea of a bookstore date. “The bookstore! That could be a lot of fun!” They agreed to meet there after her evening class the next day.
He was waiting for her in the coffee shop when she arrived. “I noticed that you bring peppermint tea into class, so I bought you some. I hope you don’t mind.” Pleased that he noticed, Kara thanked him and took a sip.
Over tea, they talked about class and their common interest in history.
They finished their tea, and then Mike stood up and said, “Now let’s go look for some books.” He moved in a hurry to the children’s section at the back of the store. He pulled a copy of “The Cat in the Hat” off the shelf, reached into his backpack and pulled out a Cat-In-The-Hat chapeau and put it on. He sat on one of the children’s sized chairs and began to read aloud, making the voices of me (the narrator), Sally, the goldfish and the Cat himself. Kara was delighted, surprised at the bout of whimsy; he usually came off so serious in class. By the time he finished reading, a small crowd of children had gathered around to hear. At the children’s request, he read “Green Eggs and Ham” too.
That set the tone for the rest of the evening. They strolled through the store, pulling out favorite books and talked about what they did or didn’t like and their favorite authors.
Just before closing, Kara excused herself to the rest room and when she came out, Mike was waiting for her at the front door with a bag in his hand.
“That was so much fun,” Kara said as he walked her to her car. “We should do that again sometime.” He bussed her cheek and handed her the bag.
“I’ll see you in class tomorrow,” he said as he slid into his car.
In her car next to the streetlight, Kara pulled the book out of the bag. A picture of a little boy handing a daisy to a little girl was on the cover. The title, “Because I Like You” in bright yellow letters stretched in an arch over their heads. A smile crept across her face. Dad was right. This one has great potential.
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