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Literary Lunch Table

I was charmed when I heard the idea of a literary lunch table discussed on a recent episode of the Bookrageous podcast. (The original idea came from The Broke and the Bookish.) If my 10-person (in addition to me) lunch table were made up of literary characters, I’m pretty confident the composition would be something like this.

  • Fanny Price from Mansfield Park — humorless, prude
  • Hermione from the Harry Potter series — scold, know-it-all
  • Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre — smart, prude

(Are we seeing the pattern yet? These three would be my besties.)

Also on our half:

  • Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing — Beatrice really is probably too cool for us, but I’m thinking no one else in the lunchroom puts up with her bitchiness or understands her clever wit, so she hangs with us.
  • Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird — Like Beatrice, Scout is probably out of our realm (too confident and athletic), but we’re old friends so she sweeps over to our side of the cafeteria from the varsity table occasionally.
  • Amy from Gone Girl — Amy is batshit crazy, but since we would never point that out (or give her access to our food), we should be safe. The budding feminist in me would want her around so she could rail about the Cool Girl every lunch period:

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)

(Maybe Amy would occasionally be pushed over the crack.)

On the other side of the table crack:

  • Irene from How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky — Inevitably, my lunch bunch would have a few oddballs. My group was usually kind and welcoming, or at the very least tolerant, so the freaks and geeks who fit in nowhere else always found a seat with us. Irene is pretty strange.
  • Jon Snow from A Song of Ice and Fire series — Jon has a crush on Irene and basically just follows her around. It’s pretty sweet.

At the far end:

  • Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye — Every table needs an angry male misanthrope.
  • The Creature from Frankenstein — “Dude, stop killing people. You can sit with us.”
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