Dear Future Me:
I wasn’t even sure I was going to write about this, but here it is: I have been on dates. With a stranger. We went for coffee, the way you crazy kids apparently do these days, and then he took me to a used book sale. Anyway, I haven’t gotten axe murdered yet, which never ceases to surprise me, and he has asked if I’d like to come over some time so he can make me dinner. I would like to do this strange thing for two reasons: 1. I’m cheap and I like free food, and 2. It will allow me to perform the Bookshelf Test.
The Bookshelf Test is basically the most important, informative test you can do on a potential paramour. Forget about all those bullshit Are You Compatible? Cosmo quizzes; in fact, just forget about Cosmo entirely. It will only make you feel fat and hate your wardrobe and experience guilt every time you eat bread. Eff that. Let’s talk about the Bookshelf Test.
Firstly, does said potential special friend even have a bookshelf? If not, why the hell doesn’t he have a bookshelf? Where does he keep his books? In a box? In storage? Does he not have any books? How the fuck does he not have any books?!? At this point it’s usually best just to end the date and cut your loses, unless you also do not have any books, in which case I have to politely ask you to get off my internet and go watch The Hills or whatever.
Okay, you’ve located his bookshelf. Take careful stock of the contents: mostly non-fiction? Dude is serious and practical. Mostly comic books? Dude is probably fourteen or has the mentally of a fourteen year old, you should probably stop trying to date him before he burns the Kraft Dinner he’s making you. Mostly contemporary, mainstream fiction? Dude might love books, but he may not be very interesting. Mostly sci-fi and fantasy? Beware: dude might be particularly intelligent and creative, but he might also be living in his mother’s basement with his +5 sword of dragon slaying and his Star Trek dolls. Are you in a basement? Are you larping? No? Then you’re probably safe. Unless you like that stuff, in which case you have my blessings. Please make me a funny t-shirt with some kind of reference to all your base. Thanks.
Also look at the way the bookshelf is organized: are the books in alphabetical order? Does he keep books by the same author or genre together? Are the books themselves newer? Older? Are they in perfect condition, love-worn, or falling to pieces? Is the entire bookshelf on fire? Are the there other things on the shelves besides books? Memorabilia, candles, keys, sexy paraphernalia, CDs and a box of Kleenex are all acceptable bookshelf accessories. Unacceptable bookshelf extras include dirty dishes, used condoms, small animals, large animals, white supremacist symbolism and pictures of George Bush, but I’m sure you could make your own list of things you don’t want to find on a bookshelf.
Ultimately, it’s important to trust your instincts. Is your bookshelf covered in trashy mags and old makeup? Then you might want to avoid the dude with a colour-coded bookshelf filled with law textbooks. Just sayin’. If you look at a dude’s bookshelf and it makes you sad, uncomfortable or physically ill, don’t date him. Trust me on this. Bookshelves never lie, unlike dudes, who have been known to tell little white lies when they really, really need to. Mostly to protect your feelings. Obviously.
All that being said, you might be wondering what my bookshelf looks like. A disaster, is what. Here is what a dude doing the Bookshelf Test on me would see: a painting from my hippie aunt, Kurt Vonnegut, a stuffed animal from highschool, feminist books, headphones, a 10 cc syringe of normal saline, my dead grandmother’s recipe box, a sex journal, postcards from my Sopie, vintage “books” about dating, books about polygamy, Mark Twain’s autobiography, a handful of change, Aldous Huxley, several bottles of booze, the Tao Te Ching, three colours of nail polish, a book about particle physics, my great-great-grandmother’s coffin nameplate from 1905, Chuck Palahniuk, a Star Wars novel, the first seven seasons of The X-Files, a shit-ton of random CDs, a camera from the fifties, a camera from the seventies, books about eating, a dozen Disney movies and my checkbook.
If that doesn’t make you want to date me, I don’t know what will. Maybe serious head trauma.
May you judge fully and intelligently,