A tale of two bibliophiles


Somethingyousaid.com’s Elaina Ransford considers the pros and cons of dating a writer:

As someone who has more books than clothes, gets almost every reference from Gilmore Girls, and has a twitter handle that’s an allusion to a J.D. Salinger short story, it’s not very often that I find someone who’s unimpressed by my sizeable library.

In fact, it had never happened. Until I started dating a writer.

And not just any writer. This guy was a television writer– he worked on Girls for a while, got bored and moved onto some obscure Internet-only show, and was trying to pitch his very own series when I met him. He passionately defended television, even comparing the way it was released to how Dickens serialized his novels.

Philip (pseudonym) was everything a writer should be: he showed up to dates five minutes late, drenched in rain, with an American Spirit cigarette dangling out of his mouth, and The New York Times folded up under his arm. He would apologize for being late because he “couldn’t get his editor off the phone” or sometimes just because he “got really wrapped up in this crossword puzzle.”

He had a little bit of a belly, but in a “I drink constantly and am too busy typing to exercise” kind of way. He thought that it was “cute” that I rode my bike everywhere, and one time he got mad at a bartender because the “Hemingway” drink on the menu was spelled with two m’s– “Hemmingway”.

He didn’t actually speak French, but had at least 30 books written in French haphazardly perched on the stairs that led to his bedroom. When I asked why he had books in a language he didn’t know, he explained that it’s blasphemous to read a book in any language but its own, and anyways, he “got the gist” of most of them.

Oh, also, did I mention that Philip was rich? He took taxis everywhere, regardless of how far or how much traffic there was, he paid for all of my drinks (which were quite a bit fewer than his), and he only wore clothing that was made in the U.S. and cost exorbitant amounts of money. He laughed fondly and condescendingly at my beloved old black Chelsea boots.

I was completely enchanted.

At least I was until the first time he came over to my apartment. I have what is generally agreed upon as a very cute studio apartment. It has hardwood floors, giant windows, and the usual 1920s charm. So I was expecting a nod of approval at the least, as Philip walked in, but instead after a few minutes of talk he looked around and said “you need more books.”

Then he criticized my lack of a TV, laughed at the coffee I was using (it was not single source, SORRY), and finally asked if he could borrow one of the French books I owned, which I could actually read and, despite his assurances, I knew he could not.

The veil had been removed from my eyes. I saw with sudden clarity that I did not want a fellow alcoholic intellectual. I did not want the stale smell of cigarettes that permuted his outrageously expensive clothing. I did not want someone whose own intellectual prowess matched or exceeded my own.

Needless to say, I broke up with Philip soon afterwards, and insisted that he return my copy of Le Navire Night. And I’ve embarked on a new approach to dating: the anti-intellectual.

These are the new qualities I look for: builds things, preferably furniture, that requires heavy lifting to tone those muscled arms; either didn’t go to college or went to engineering school; doesn’t like classical music; loves Game of Thrones (I do too, for the record); is suitably impressed by the fact that I write; wears old flannels that were probably made in China; and, most importantly, asks “What does your twitter handle mean?”.



Words by Elaina Ransford.