Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Banning

Do you keep your books? I don't mean to be forward, asking such a personal question. It's really none of my business if you're a hoarder, or one of those people who has a compulsion to dust and vacuum before the cleaning lady comes over.

The reason for my inquiry is nosiness. Pure and simple. Like when a kid goes next door to play pool in the neighbor's concrete shed out back, and tires of reading ancient TV Guides between turns, and asks her friend what is in the olive green locker standing in front of the north window, a locker which her friend refers to as a chifforobe, but which appears to have something to do with her father's one weekend a month and two weeks a year absence with the National Guard. The locker which objects to having its door yanked open, and bashes the friend in the knee, causing it to spurt blood so badly that when the friend hollers for her momma, the kid lays down the TV Guide open to the Dick Van Dyke show on an old and quietly slips out the door for home, returning hours later to observe the knotty stitches in her friend's knee.

My teaching buddy says her husband does not allow her to keep books. That as soon as she is through with them, they are donated to St. Vincent de Paul. The lone exception is her collection of John Grisham books. I, on the other hand, hang onto my books. I read them again and again. Sometimes, I end up with two of the same title. The high cost of hoarding, I suppose. The books I can bear to part with linger. Not intentionally. I pack them up in boxes and set them by the basement door. Where Hick finds them, and fills a perfectly good bookshelf where I had harvested them to make room for new acquisitions. One step forward until Hick steps back.

My books are in primo condition. I sometimes fancy myself taking up the eBay hobby, or becoming an Amazon seller, and passing them off as new. Shh...nobody has to know that they have been read one time. I don't drop crumbs in them, sneeze green boogers onto their pages, use a slice of braunschweiger as a bookmark, or leave them face-down, gasping for their literary breath, for lengthy periods of time. Val's used books are the new new books.

Hey! Did you know that not all people treat a book with such tender loving care? I found that out the hard way. When people loan me a book, I treat it as my own. Gently. Respectfully. I am the perfect book date. I would never paw at Booksie like an animal. I caress her. Make her comfortable. Adjust her jacket, lest she catch a chill. Should we take a walk down a medieval street, I would be careful to walk next to the road. No garbage or chamber pot effluence is going to land on my sweet Booksie. I make it a point to have her back home on time. Intact.

But some people are deviants! One colleague took my own sweet Booksie and sullied her to the point of non-recognition. Broke her spine. Gave her pages incurable scoliosis. Bent her wrap behind her back until she was permanently exposed. Returned her to me in much the same manner as Pinto returned the mayor's drunk daughter, though stopping short of parking sweet Booksie on my front lawn in a shopping cart. And then acted like nothing untoward happened!

Some people should be banned from books. Seriously.


  1. There are many books I've bought to give someone else as a gift, and I read it first--carefully--so it still looks new. No eating of chocolate ice cream. No reading in the bathtub.

    Once, my mother-in-law borrowed one of my books on a trip she took. She left the dust jacket on the plane. Panic-stricken, I called the airlines, I went to the airport, I called the National Guard, and I had air traffic control shut the airport down while we searched. It was nowhere to be found.

    Now, nobody gets a book from me with a dust jacket still on it. Nobody.

    Wait a minute. Her husband won't LET her keep her books? She needs a good talkin' to, Val.

  2. Sioux,
    But her husband CLEANS the house with her! I think it's a reasonable trade-off.

  3. I recently bought a used, like new book and found a book mark in it, a real hoenst to goodness dollar bill!

  4. Linda,
    I feel like the Nobody Every Pays ME in Gum Guy. Nobody ever sends ME a dollar in a used book.