Today, I saw her again and wondered how far she was, since I was just over a third of the way through. I never got an opportune moment to ask, however. Nor was I able to ask if she was reading it because she'd read The Da Vinci Code and then been told that it was basically a distilled Foucault's Pendulum.
As I waited for the Colma train, I admired a cute girl in a fuzzy light blue cardigan. Because that is what I do. I admire cute girls. I exist in their vicinity in the hopes that they will talk to me.
When the train arrived, I entered and sat down next to either one of the characters I've already introduced or someone completely new. That is always the way, isn't it?
I couldn't have sat down next to the cute blonde because she was going in the other direction and thus not even on my train. I couldn't sit next to the cute brunette because she passed up several empty seats to choose one near the back of the car, and I couldn't go that far without feeling like I was stalking her.
So, a new character it is, then. A guy about my age or a little older. A few seconds after I sat down, he said, "You're sitting on my leg."
Or at least, that's something close to what I thought he said. I was surprised that he was speaking to me and with such confidence. He had noticed my copy of Foucault's Pendulum (it's a big book) and was asking how I was liking it because he had just started it. I told him it was tough, because that's the standard response when someone asks you about Eco. I said it was good except for the parts where you randomly get twenty pages about medieval history. And you didn't know whether it was important or not, he responded. Right, I said, imitating Eco, "I wouldn't put this in here if it wasn't [sic] important, right?"
He said he was reading it because he'd read The Da Vinci Code, and I laughed and laughed and told him the same thing happened to me. Of note, he also said that Angels and Demons is actually good. I'd wanted to read the books because they were out there and I was a smart person and therefore supposed to want to read them, but the post-DVC discussion finally spurred me to the library.
I mentioned the girl who had started Foucault's Pendulum the day I finished The Name of the Rose, and we agreed that she had to have read The Da Vinci Code; the fact that all three of us were reading it at the same time was too weird for that not to be the case.
He asked how I liked The Name of the Rose, and I said that it was 70% good. There was lots of good detective stuff, since it was basically a Sherlock Holmes/Watson mystery, and fun with logic, but then you'd get pages of papal politics and Inquisitions and things about Jesus. And I didn't care about how the popes became popes and where all the Inquisitions were!
"That's why I'm reading fiction," he said.
"I didn't sign up to learn stuff!" I said.
When there was a silence, he said, "And now for a more mundane question." He asked me where he should get off to kill time by walking around the city. I asked him if he was new here or if he was a tourist. He said he was in town for the San Francisco Tango Exchange. Apparently, SF has a vibrant tango culture. He had come in from Victoria, Canada.
I said the Civic Center area could work, as it was pretty active. He wanted to check out the MOMA, and even though he knew it was closed, he wanted to get his bearings as to where it was. I thought you could probably walk to MOMA from Civic Center. And if you walked in...a direction, you could get to Union Square. When I told him I was getting off at Civic Center, he warned me he would get off when I did so I didn't think he was stalking me.
He pulled out a map, and I showed him where the Civic Center station was on the map. We looked for MOMA and Union Square, and it looked like it would be better to get off at the Powell station. I pointed out Fisherman's Wharf, which he could take the MUNI to in order to see street peddlers and people dressed up as robots and playing saxophones. He pointed out South of Market, which was supposed to have good shopping. I told him about Valencia and explained the pirate store to him.
I'd had my book open in my lap, but I couldn't just read now. I had to milk this human interaction as long as possible! I had already told him about Michigan and Texas and visiting Toronto and Montreal and what I did, so I absentmindedly flipped through the first few chapters of the book and asked whether he'd just started. I told him to bear with it because Eco doesn't care that you don't know what the hell's going on, and he agreed. He was having a hard time pushing forward even though he knew he was supposed to want to read this book.
It was probably earlier in the conversation, but I recommended Cryptonomicon to him as another long book with pages of digressions but with digressions that are much more entertaining and fun to read because of the difference in style. Eco's books are full of characters who lurve seeking knowledge and so babble on and on about how much they know for pages and pages.
He asked if it was expensive to live here, and I said yes. We compared apartment prices, and they seemed comparable to that of Victoria, at least if you were looking for a bare bones flat.
After we left Montgomery station, I said, "By the way, I'm Sunil."
"Julian," he said.
I let him out at Powell. He thanked me for the tips, and I told him to enjoy himself.
Fear my social eptitude.
I've honestly been waiting to have one of these "strike up a conversation with a stranger on the BART" scenes. Of course, I'd like the stranger to be an attractive woman, and I'd like the ending to be unprintable here, but I'll take what I can get.