Navigating the Sandwich
The TV Show So Hot I Switched to the Books
Outlander awoke something in me I thought was long gone
I approached the bookstore information kiosk with a combination of apprehension and embarrassment, much like I had done 40 odd years earlier when I had wanted the location of The Joy of Sex. Back then, 24-year-old me had practiced in my bathroom mirror, settling on just the right amount of head tilt – cocked to one side, jaw slightly jutted with my shoulders back — to exude confidence. Something I was sorely lacking, like female orgasm.
But, on that particular day, the elder hippie earth mother who had non-judgmentally pointed people down the right paths and to the correct sections had been replaced by a man who should not have been able to walk among mere mortals. He was tall. A hunter-gatherer type, probably descended from Norsemen. His thick, wavy, auburn hair should have been on my head — or at least on a pillow, next to mine. (As if!) His blue-eyed tractor beam pulled me in.
“Can I help you find something?”
I picked up a slight accent. Irish? Scottish? I wanted so much to tell him all the ways he could have helped me. Perhaps he knew where the elusive G spot was?
“Um, yes, where is the ladies room?”
Now, I was older. Wiser? In need of a particular book. A different kind. Sort of.
The woman at the kiosk was a bit rattled, cursed the slow Internet. “Can I help you?”
I decided to just come out with it. “Do you have, those, Outlander books?”
My husband had been out of town on business and I was in the mood for a good binge-worthy series. My tastes usually defaulted to quirky comedy like Crashing or Derry Girls, but my search got hung up on a thumbnail of a man in a kilt, holding a woman, her hair and his blowing in the wind of a Highland moor, and I thought it looked interesting. I’d give it a go.
Opening credits passed my muster. As had the production values: post-World War II Scotland, a young couple getting reacquainted after being separated by the war. She, a field nurse, he a historian.
The writing was good. I liked the characters. I was intrigued as to the whole time travel thing. Would she bump her head? Get hit by a car? Or would she travel through some sort of black hole, a tear in the space-time continuum?
I also knew there had to be a kilted love interest. I expected him to meet the required degree of handsomeness . . . and he did. He entered the scene, bloodied, dirty, laden with testosterone, a broad sword and a broad smile. I haven’t been the same since.
The bookstore girl told me to follow her. We took the escalator. “You know there’s a TV show,” she said.
“Yes. I do. And that is the problem,” I said, piquing her interest. “I, uh . . . started watching . . . and, uh . . . I had to stop.”
“Why?” She led me past the young adult section. Past pets. Past gardening.
“Have you ever seen it?” I asked.
“No. But I’ve heard . . .” She was old enough to be my daughter. We shared a look between us. She knew what I meant. And I wasn’t ashamed to let her think that I, a woman whose nipples have a downward gaze, who wears scarves in the summer to hide a crepey neck, who had thought those twinges, tingles, and flutters had left the building along with my collagen was back in the saddle, astride a Percheron, in the Highlands of Scotland.
The books were on the lower shelf. She sat on the floor to find the right copy. I knelt. Perhaps that’s why I felt like I could confess to her. “I used to make fun of people who read romance novels . . .”
“Yeah, but this is a New York Times bestseller.”
“ . . . or who were into Game of Thrones, but now? I have to reevaluate my whole world view!”
“And that’s a bad thing?” she said.
“No, but wondering how a person can breach the space-time continuum is.”