TREENA MIELKE/On The Other Side
My girlfriends and I swallow our coffee black, but our friendships are a double/double mix, sweetened always with the sharing of life’s little ironical spoonfuls of joy and sorrow.
The sharing is usually between two or three of us, done over a cup of coffee, or on a long, leisurely day which I’m sure I had once, over at least one refill.
We talk. We laugh. We cry. We talk about people, but then we remember only people with small minds talk about people, so we struggle to be more intellectual and talk about things. And we talk about ideas that will challenge us and help each of us grow into the balanced, mature women we suspect we really are.
But, after about five minutes, we become intensely bored with all this self-improvement crap, and we resort to talking about people again.
However, in one of our “let’s get together for a quick coffee” times where the chatter runs quickly, but not particularly deep, one of us, the planner and organizer of the group, decided we needed to broadened our intellectual horizons.
And, to make this happen, she suggested we should form a book club.
We drank our coffee slowly, sifting the idea around like so much sand in an hour glass. I, for one momentarily pushed aside other thoughts like “Did I actually send that attachment for the last story I wrote?” and “Do I have spaghetti sauce if I should decide to make same for supper?” aside.
After a brief interlude involving silence that left all of us chatterboxes a bit uneasy, we unanimously agreed.
“We’re in,” we chimed in unison, sounding something like The Three Musketeers.
And so it came to be that our book club was formed. We were to meet once a month, we would all take turns hosting and, most importantly, no one was to spill wine on anyone else’s book. It went well.
We met as planned, read and read some more. And we had discussions that were frank, honest and heartfelt, saturating our minds with ideas, which, even though not original, were deemed worthy of such discussion.
The other night my friends and I were having a particularly interesting discussion about the book Still Alice. The discussion went along seamlessly with all of us, including me, tossing our two cents worth of ‘food for thought’ into the mix.
And then one of us said quietly, “When did they discover she had schizophrenia.”
Well, you could have heard a pin drop, except we were at Tim Hortons and nobody hears a pin drop at Tim Hortons.
“She didn’t,” I said quietly, proud that I had at least read the book thoroughly enough to know the main character did not have schizophrenia.
“She had Alzheimer’s,” I said somewhat smugly.
And so we discovered one of us was not only not on the same page as the rest of us, she was not even reading the same book..
She was, in fact, reading Finding Alice.
There comes a time in the life of every book club when it is time to forget about trying to be clever, and, simply to laugh.
It was obvious that this was the time.
And so we did.
We laughed, some of us quite hysterically actually, and once again, the undeniable joy of friendship that sweetens life’s little ironies, brought us safely and comfortably together.
And, somehow I have come to believe the stories that spring from those who belong to the book club, are without a doubt, better page-turners than anything to be found on the shelves.
They just need to be written!
—Treena Mielke is the associate editor of The Rimbey Review.