Sunday, October 11, 2009

unexpected consequences of reading C. S. Lewis as a child

It dawned on me yesterday that one of the most stubborn and lasting side effects of reading C. S. Lewis as a child, at least for me, has to do with LEFT and RIGHT.

My mom read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to me, a chapter at a time, as one of our bed time stories. I remember staring at the little illustrations. In particular, I remember how Mr. Tumnus with his skinny scarf was both sad and frightening, and how the celebrating animals that were turned to stone made my skin twitch. Still, I liked the book enough that my mom (a firm believer in the necessity of a book read aloud) bought a dramatization of The Magician's Nephew on audio cassette.

My sister and I listened to those cassettes over and over again. The tape stretched out sometimes and made Aslan's voice sound wobbly and strange. There is a part in The Magician's Nephew when the creepy Uncle Andrew puts two magical rings in Digory's pocket. The rings are green, and Uncle Andrew puts them in Digory's right-hand pocket. "Remember very carefully which pocket the Greens are in," he says. "G for Green and R for right. G. R., you see, which are the first two letters of Green."

I thought this made very good sense.

I have a contact lens case with two lids, one blue and one orange. In my mind, because of Uncle Andrew and C. S. Lewis, the blue lid should be for the left eye because "blue" has an L in it. "Orange" has an R in it, so, obviously it should stand for "right." The contact lens case makers must not have read The Magician's Nephew though, because they put the wrong letters with the wrong colors. Every time I use the case, I grumble at it. R! I think. L! Is it so difficult?

There are certain details in stories that I never forget. Sometimes these are grand, or creepy, or gorgeous. And sometimes they are incredibly mundane. Like a permanent attachment to the proper colors for left and right.


Anonymous said...

i really want to read the magicians nephew again. like, right now.

Megan Kurashige said...

If you do, beware that potentially indelible passage about left and right!

Also, hello!