The Story about the Book

Posted: October 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Books, Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Mama Posse | 1 Comment »

Don’t ever lend me a book.

My friend Mary did. And she doesn’t know it yet, but she shouldn’t have.

First off, I’ve had the thing for a while now. Held onto it for two, maybe even three months. Far longer than the inter-friendship lending library loan period should allow. Even with a few renewals.

And I tend to zip through books pretty quickly, once I start them. But this one—that super-popular dragon tattoo book everyone’s all hopped up about—didn’t draw me in at first. And with my tower of bedside books beseeching me to read them, I did something unusual. I set it down one night and dug into something else.

But then, when I was just in New York recently, I realized in somewhat of a panic that I was nearing the end of another book. I found myself suddenly dangerously close to being without a new one.

So along with my paisley pashmina and my witchy super-pointy-toed black high heels, I had Mark toss Mary’s ‘tattoo girl’ book in his bag for me. He was still at home, heading to the East Coast a few days after me.

So you know, the book suffered the usual reasonable wear and tear on the dust jacket. Shoved in Mark’s bag, then crammed into mine. Taken in and out of my purse along with diapers, lipsticks, and the girls’ discarded apple cores. Typical stuff.

I mean, I do respect books, just for the record. I NEVER dog-ear pages. (And I disdain those who do when I read a book after them.) I don’t write in margins, though I do stick Post-Its in cook books. And if one of the girls walks over a book or bends the spine all backwards you can betcha I roll out Lecture #372 on Respectin’ Books.

But with this one book, it all went so wrong.

Because for our flight home I tossed it in a newsstand plastic bag, along with my requisite airplane-reading celeb mag, Mentos, and a bottle of water. And when we finally staggered home from our cross-country day of travel, it appeared that my water bottle’s sport top had opened.

And water makes a book wet.

But it’s WATER. I am a mother and of all the things that I know cause problems, water is almost never one of them. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to the kids, “Don’t worry about it! It’s just water!”

Water dries. Water doesn’t stain. Water won’t smell bad when it’s lodged in a sippy cup under the seat of your car for three weeks.

Water is my friend.

So I did what you do when you want something wet to dry. I stuck the book in the dish rack alongside the kitchen sink.

But eventually, the next day I think, I gave up the book’s dish rack space for wet dishes. It seemed only fair that they have priority placement. Because if I were to keep the book on the dish drain, and start to pile the wet dishes elsewhere to dry, I’d start to set a domino effect into motion that could result in my becoming a crazy shut-in who is tracked down by the producers of Oprah because I have laundry drying in the trees outside my house and I bathe in a kiddie pool because my bath tub is full to the brim with head-less dolls, summer shoes, and dessicated cans of Play-Doh.

And I didn’t want that to happen.

But the book was still not dry. How was it that the wetness could be so persistent?

I moved the book to my bedside floor (on a magazine, so as not to stain the hardwood). I gingerly turned the sodden pages to read it at night. None of the ink ran as a result of The Water Bottle Incident, so everything was perfectly legible.

And the book is compelling, just like everyone says. So the dampness didn’t deter me.

A couple times during the day I’d remember to put it on the kitchen counter on a wire baking rack. I figured it’d allow air to circulate around it. I’d open it to random especially-saturated sections, in hopes that over time I could systematically dry the whole thing out.

Then at night I’d take the book back into bed, and suffer the disapproval of my beloved spouse who’d tenderly say things like, “Oh for the love of God, honey. Throw that thing out! I have that book on my Kindle you know.”

But say what you will. I’m an optimist.

And I felt certain that, given time, the book would dry on up. I mean, some—okay ALL—of the pages would be a bit puckered perhaps. But, as I said, the words were totally intact. I mean, sure, I started with a hardcover and I’d transformed it to a pliable soft paperback. But the book was still managing to function in the capacity that a book does.

Besides, the book was not mine. Not mine to just throw away.

But then one day, flipping to a section I was planning to aerate, I noticed a slate blue streak. Mold. And I knew, like you know when your old Labrador’s hip dysplasia becomes untenable, that it was time.

Of course, I couldn’t do it myself. I asked Mark to. And despite the fact that he held the thing at arm’s length like some diarrhea-drenched diaper, it was clear that he was pleased to do the honors.

It’s been some days now—nearly a week, in fact—and despite a multitude of phone-call attempts and voicemail exchanges, I’ve been unable to reach Mary to tell her about her book. Of course, I’m happy to replace it, no question about that. But to go ahead and do that before letting her know how far I’d come, and all I went through with that book, just seems wrong. I mean, you can’t just kill your friend’s goldfish then drop another orange one in the bowl like it’s no big thing.

Alas, it’s late. So I’ll crawl into bed and curl up with Mark’s Kindle. Though, of course, it won’t be the same.

I imagine that Mary won’t be asking me to dog sit any more.

1 Comment »

One Comment on “The Story about the Book”

  1. 1 Mary said at 8:41 am on October 30th, 2010:

    HA! I SO don’t care. That is sort of a read-n-toss book anyways. (thank god the author is dead and can’t read my comment).

    I am pleased though, to have inspired a blog post. :)

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