A Proustian moment (or my impoverished version thereof): The smell of suntan lotion always makes me think of the novels of Harold Robbins. I remember an afternoon at the beach when I was eight or nine years old… I’d been out swimming by myself (who would let their kid do that these days?) and came ashore only to find that my family had abandoned me, though the car and the towels and chairs were still there. Cool! I thought – this is kind of like one of those ghost boats they find floating in the Bermuda Triangle. After a while the novelty of reflecting light from my brother’s watch crystal into the eyes of the other beachgoers wore off, so I idly read a few pages at random in my mother’s suntan lotion-soiled copy of The Carpetbaggers. Baffled, I wondered aloud to my fellow beach attendees: “Why is she reading this? Why would anyone read this? I only read books that have UFOs or dinosaurs or Nazis in them!” No response was forthcoming from the stupefied sun-worshippers around me. After a while, the resounding silence to my questions put me in mind of the comments about the residents of central Ontario made by my brother just that morning on the drive to the beach – hmm, even though they’re grownups, maybe they can’t read… why do they all have Toronto Maple Leafs towels? Having not yet attained the Age of Reason, I could not, on that sun-soaked afternoon so long ago, compute the permutations and combinations of possible narratives involving dinosaurs, UFOs and Nazis. But I could – and did – check out the breasts on the hot blonde lying next to me. Now I only read books with nicely-breasted blondes, and/or Nazis, UFOs and dinosaurs. So it goes.
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