Once upon a time there was a group of students at a prestigious college in the Northeast who set aside a designated time to read children’s books aloud to each other. They met in dorm rooms and off-campus apartments (especially during the summer) They sent out cute invitations and served milk and cookies and read the likes of The Phantom Tollbooth and Where The Wild Things Are, sometimes reading longer works over the course of several gatherings. It was a welcome cleansing of the palate after swallowing difficult subjects like organic chemistry and Russian irregular verbs and international policy for hours. I looked forward to it. I enjoyed it.
And then I was assigned to write an article about it for the campus newspaper.
In the spirit of openness, I tipped off the leader, cutely referred to as the autarch, and since he didn’t say not to come, I assumed I was as welcome as I ever was.
I was greeted with the announcement that story reading “was, as usual, off the record” and due to “special circumstances” ten regulars deigned to miss that night’s story reading altogether (of course, midterms might have had something to do with that?) and these “special circumstances” were not in the spirit of story reading, making me feel like I had mistakenly entered the tomb of the secret society not a block away by mistake. The fear was that if the story broke, suddenly everyone on campus would want to come. “It’s not like I’m going to write when or where the meetings are!” I said.
“We just don’t want everyone to know about us. This is ours. It belongs to us!” one attendee moaned
“You were what? Booted out of story reading?” my editor said after laughing when I came back to the newsroom much earlier than expected.
“Without milk and cookies even,” I sighed.
I never did get another invitation.
(Artist of cartoon unknown)