Every summer vacation, I looked forward to the time when a school envelope delivered the list of books required for the fast-approaching school year. We would head to Fabian’s bookstore where I’d hand my list to the saleswoman and, after a suspenseful search, receive my pile of books for the year. I loved the smell of the new books and the blankness of the notebooks, the endless possibilities resting within them, the promise of new knowledge and learning to be found inside.
In seventh grade, my biology teacher became irritated by my endless questions. “Why don’t you write your questions at the end of the notebook,” she suggested, “and if at the end of the year I haven’t answered them, you can ask me then.” I wrote the questions in the notebook, but I already received one reply: she had neither the answers nor the patience for me.
Ever on the lookout for learning, I adored my college mentor, a passionate teacher who made the world of eighteenth-century British literature come alive. But after a while she lost interest in my work and her only comment on my thesis was that my English improved.
While studying for the MBA, I fell in love with Economics and considered getting a PhD. My Economics professor disagreed. “You’re coming from English Lit,” he waved me aside, “so you are too narrow minded to understand.” I proved him wrong by receiving 98% on his final exam, but my taste for Economics was gone.
Sometimes I learn the most from unexpected teachers. Today this teacher proved to be a romance novel. In Mia Marlowe’s Touch of a Thief, Lieutenant Quinn has mastered the teaching of the Kama Sutra, spiritual side and all. Viola, his leading lady, is a willing student. The novel is well-plotted and the characters are endearing. The suspense works though I trusted all along that everybody was going to be okay in the end. But it was the relationship between Viola and Quinn that made me think. How attractive to have at least one Kama Sutra enlightened partner in a relationship!
I wondered: how can it be that in a society which values education and college degrees as much as ours does, experience rather than learning is the most common way to gain knowledge of the mysterious, intimate ways between men and women? We send our children (and ourselves) out into this confusing world so unprepared. Like the old saying, we seem to imply: “Lie back and think of England.”
Strangely, it is romances which venture close to teaching, instructing, and giving a personal example of how love should be. I might put Touch of a Thief on the required teenaged girl’s reading list. Great ethics about not giving your virginity too quickly or trusting too soon, and a great example of how magnificent love can be when both sides move forward at the same time, with the same willingness, wishes and hopes.