Learning things firsthand can be extremely painful and difficult.
Secondhand knowledge is perfect for developing a background on a subject, which is what I'm kind of doing. I'm still so far behind Andrew I fear I will never catch up, which I think is alright. Our household doesn't really need two Middle East history buffs, right?
We were discussing this book as we were getting ready for bed last night and I posed the rather benighted question of,
"So, why do they [Muslims] still care about Mecca?"
I'm only in chapter three, obviously.
"Because it has the ka'ba," Andrew answered, looking at me like I wasn't the same person who followed him out to live in the Middle East just a few months after our marriage.
"I know," and I did know that, but I didn't know the history surrounding it, "but didn't the prophet Muhammad denounce it?"
Andrew sighed a big sigh.
Sheesh. I'm only in chapter three, I tell you, give me a break! We can't all be MESA majors!
"He did," he told me, a little exasperated, "But then they go back to Mecca and he casts out all the idols and makes it holy."
He then sighed dramatically again and added sardonically, "And now I've ruined the whole story for you!"
Admittedly, the book is well written. Aslan flows easily between narrative and academic language. It's been a pleasant read thus far, but I'm not sure I would describe it as a gripping tale, not exactly. Furthermore, I don't think squishing decades of history into one sentence really qualifies as a "plot spoiler." It is history, after all.
Then again, I don't mind a spoiled plot. If every book I read, every movie I watched, every moment in my life I've wondered about, had been "spoiled" for me, I think I would still be a happy person. I am one to skip to the end of the book just to make sure things turn out alright before I continue; I constantly talk through movies, pressing Andrew for information even if he hasn't seen it before himself; and I really, really, really just want that letter from grad school so we know what we'll be doing with the next few years of our life. I just like to be well-informed, I guess.
Other people aren't so keen on knowing what's going on. Andrew lives with my curiosity, at times feeding the fire by refusing to give away a plot and forbidding me to flip to the end of the book or look up the movie plot on Wikipedia. Other times he gives in and quenches the fire, as he did last night. He doesn't really like to know a storyline before he gets into a movie or book though, and often finds himself having to plug his ears and hum if my mom happens to want to give me the rundown on the newest Bollywood flick.
I guess I just focus better if I know what's going to happen and he focuses better if he doesn't.
Anyway, our conversation last night brought me back to a time long ago in a land far, far away. In fact, it took me right back into the Basic Reading classroom of the English Wing of a small Elementary school in Voronezh, Russia.
Front: Tiffany, Michelle, Natalie, Bethany, Stephanie
When class was not in session, either before school or when Olga and Sveta were setting out our lunch, the Basic Reading classroom was one of our places of sanctuary. It was there that we would finalize our lesson plans, type drafts of emails on the ancient computers (if we dared risk turning them on), and discuss the novels that we had been passing around.
On this particular day, I was discussing The Nanny Diaries with Emily, I believe, and several other teachers were in the room. Esther heard me begin to retell the part where "the little boy almost dies" and she surprised me by whirling around and telling me to stop.
She hadn't read it yet and didn't want to know anything about the plot.
This was surprising because I had never really had anyone tell me that they hadn't wanted to know about a plot. Leaving for Russia was my first time leaving home--and in my home plots were free-for-all. I was a little hurt by her reaction, partly because I hadn't meant to offend her and partly because it seemed to me like she thought I had meant to. See, learning firsthand can hurt!
Well, my humor has always been a little waggish--I'm a sucker for situational irony--so I could barely contain myself when just a few minutes later the conversation turned to the Book of Mormon and Staci remarked,
"I just got to the part where Lehi dies."
"What?!?" I gasped, "You mean he dies!?"
Of course, I knew he dies; I had read the Book of Mormon several times before moving to Russia, I read it a few times there, have read it several times after, and plan on reading it many times more.
I found my joke hilarious...but I'm not sure if anyone else did. At least the experience helped me to become a more well-rounded person and learn to not take plot-spoiling so lightly. I think I've come a long way since then--I'm down to asking a question every 10 minutes during a movie instead of every 5, which I'm sure Andrew really appreciates.