A young boy finishes the Lord of the Rings and lays the book down on the side table next to the sofa and begins talking to someone in the next room.

Boy: I’m surprised that Tolkien wrote such bland prose. His vocabulary is amazing of course; it must have been. He created twelve languages; did you know he created his first language when he was just a boy?

Mother: Are you talking to me?

Boy: What surprises me is that he wrote the story down in prose, but the prose doesn’t matter. He doesn’t embellish the prose in any way. He has wonderful vocabulary, of course, but he isn’t wowing with purple prose. The plot and the songs are the point, but not the prose.

Mother: Just a minute! I can’t hear what you are saying.

Boy: Reading Tolkien feels like listening to an oral tale at a fireside. Each retelling of an oral tale by a fireside would be a little different and that’s fine because the plot and the songs would remain the same. The prose could be told by numerous people with different emphasis each time but that wouldn’t matter: what matters are the main plot events and the songs. I always skip the songs, but now I realize this is an error. I need to enjoy those songs more. I want to play the guitar.

The young reader’s mother enters the room. She carries a toilet scrub brush and wears rubber gloves. Wisps of hair dangle in her face.

Mother: What is it? I can’t hear what you are saying from across the house.

Boy: Oh, nothing. I was just talking about a book I read. Can I buy a guitar?

Mother: Do you want to help me clean the toilet?

Boy: I’m more suited to the intellectual life, mother.

Mother: If you want to continue lecturing, you’ll have to come to the bathroom so I can hear you.

Boy: Okay, fine.

The boy follows his mother across the house to the bathroom.

Boy: Can I pee first?

The end.