Bookish Pet Peeve #2: The Nosey Over-The-Shoulder Reader
I can smell your breath. You’re so close to me, I can smell your breath.
Did you just eat raw garlic? No? Is that sour cream and onion chips? No? Maybe you bathed in a vat of stale vinegar?
You are totally up in my personal space right now. In fact, the term “personal space” is a misnomer because there is no space between us. You’re totally up in my person right now. Yes, that’s it. You’re in my person. Could this be qualified as assault?
What is your deal, Mr. Total Stranger On An Airplane?
Oh, I see, you’re curious about what I’m reading. Or are you simply just reading along with me?
As soon as I opened the book to page 152—the scene where Nancy tells Rolf that she’s been cheating on him with 3 boys from the college lacrosse team—as soon as I opened the book to that page, you invaded my personal space like a vulture to a deer carcass.
How can I make you stop being so nosey? Maybe if I make eye contact with you, then you will stop being so nosey.
Okay, here I go. Making eye contact. This is so awkward.
You’re smiling back at me. What should I do? Should I smile back? Oh no…I’m smiling back. Now I’m nodding my head in the universal “hello” gesture.
Crap. Now you’re going to think I like you. You’re going to think I don’t mind you reading over my shoulder.
I’ve really got myself in a mess now. Maybe if I start reading again, you’ll leave me alone. Rolf is angry right now. He just found out one of the lacrosse players is his college roommate’s son. Nancy is having an affair with Rolf’s friend’s son. That’s just wrong, Nancy.
Seriously, did you just burp?
Let me get this straight: You’re sitting next to me on this airplane, totally crowding my space, reading my book over my shoulder, breathing foul vapors into the air, and—to top it off—you’re now burping into my ear?
You’re still reading my book. I feel your eyes. This has to stop.
I shut the book. I close my eyes. I’m pretending that I’m going to sleep. I really want to know if Rolf leaves Nancy, but I need you to get distracted, or maybe fall asleep yourself, so I can finish.
I’m pretending to be asleep.
Wait a minute. Is that a hand on my leg? What? Are you picking up my novel?
I open my eyes. I look at you.
You grin sheepishly. “Oh, you don’t mind if I borrow this for a minute?” you say.
Are you kidding me? I think. I smile. “Why not?” I say. “Tell me what happens to Rolf.”
I close my eyes again and pretend to sleep. You, sir, the over-the-shoulder book reader, are one of the top 10 most annoying people on the planet.
Have you ever had experiences with a nosey reader?
Prior Bookish Pet Peeves: