Our former colleague Jeremy Grall was on a plane to Poland yesterday. He’d brought along some academic tomes to read on the flight. Instead he took out a Harry Potter. “Is that bad?” he asked.
I would say no since I know many intelligent adults who have loved the Harry Potter books. But in case there was still a tinge of embarrassment, I recommend a strategy I have used to my advantage many times:
INVENT A KID!
For Jeremy, it would go something like this. He notices the flight attendant looking at the title. He smiles and says, “My son is wanting to read this. But I want to make sure it’s age appropriate first. The things we parents do for our kids!” Jeremy gets to read the book he wants while still seeming the good adult.
I have done this in the grocery store when I’m buying a treat that, while one of my favorites, is obviously a kiddy food. If the check-out person makes a comment like, “Oh, I loved this as a child. But my mom always said it was pure sugar.” I answer, “Well, it’s a birthday treat.” And then I pay and get out of there.
Now, for readers with children, this deception is not necessary. You can simply blame your real kids for your reading Harry Potter or eating Smarties. But for those of us without, a temporary invented child allows us to enjoy the pleasures of childhood without suffering ridicule.
So this week: Invent a kid, or blame your own. But in any case, buy those Fruit Loops.