When You Know You Don’t Even Need to Bother Reading the Second Sentence

The Curmudgeon’s often torn when he writes these pieces: should he just say what’s on his mind the way he wants to say it or does he need to do something from the start, in the very first sentence, to grab your attention?

He’s generally arrogant enough not to worry about that; after all, he’s well past trying to do anything to increase his readership because that’s clearly not going to happen.  Once in a while, though, he’ll refer to a specific piece in a family conversation and The Curmudgeonly Sister, who’s a fairly regular reader, will say something to the effect of “I didn’t read it.  Too serious.”  Or “Too cerebral.”  Or “too long” (ouch!).  Still, he understands the importance of giving someone who’s done him the courtesy of reading his first sentence a reason to hang in there to read the second, so he does try to pay attention to this.

At least a little.

And at least sometimes.

This popped into his head yesterday when he opened up to the “Talk of the Town” feature in the March 19 edition of The New Yorker (he’s catching up!).  “Talk of the Town” consists of three or four short pieces, usually about the exploits of some quirky New Yorker or a visit to the city by a C-list celebrity.  Some of these The Curmudgeon reads and some of them are so essentially New York-y, or about people who seem so incredibly annoying, that he reads a paragraph or two and moves on.

On this occasion he came to a piece titled “Caffeinated,” which came right after a piece about a woman who had just seen the musical Sweeney Todd for the 106th time (after seeing 200 performances of Urinetown, 170 of The Wedding Singer, and 533 of Spring Awakening), and read the first sentence.

The architects Louise Harpman and Scott Specht began collecting takeout-coffee lids when they were in college, in the nineteen-eighties, and continued the practice as graduate students at Yale.

And The Curmudgeon knew, absolutely and without question, that there was no way in the world he was going to read the second sentence.


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