Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

I found out the other day that a guy I know collects books as rabidly as I do, if that’s possible. He’s got bookshelves all over his house and apparently likes them as much for their smell as their looks or their content. And what sane human doesn’t? Well, lots, it turns out, but that’s a litmus test as far as I’m concerned. Who doesn’t adore the smell of books, knows not the fragrance of life itself. I just made that up. Take that, Shakespeare.

While we were talking about the kinds of books we like to collect, he mentioned that he has a huge collection of science fiction books, which reminded me of the story of the time my dad found my sci-fi collection. In high school and through most of college, science fiction was the genre I read voraciously. Many people don’t know this, but the word “voraciously” was coined to describe the way I gobbled up sci-fi paperbacks. That’s not some urban legend, it’s from no less an authority than Wikipedia. You can check it out … in just a minute. Wait, not yet. Okay, now.

Before I went off to begin what I thought would be my first and only enlistment in the Air Force, I stashed my hundreds of books in a deep, wide drawer under the clothes closet in my room. Two layers of books stacked three or four high made the drawer so heavy it would open an inch or so if I dug in my heels and jerked on the handles with all the piss and vinegar I was worth. I hated leaving them behind but I wouldn’t have anywhere to put them for at least a year and a half while I was in basic training, then in tech school, so I shoved my butt up against the drawer and closed it up tight as Tut’s tomb, vowing to return one day.

I was halfway through a year-long tech school when my dad had a medical emergency. An aneurysm in his brain blew open like a cracked radiator hose and he was bedridden for quite some time with nothing to do but learn to speak and read and write all over again, among other things. Lucky for him, he found my stash of sci-fi books, but the funny thing is I didn’t find out about this until many months later. He started on the nearest book in the top layer and worked his way to the back, and every time he finished a clutch of books he’d carry a bunch down to the local library, where they had a policy of trading paperback for paperpack. So not only did he get to read the two or three hundred books I’d salted away, he got to read another couple hundred he got in trade.

When I came home on leave from tech school and jerked open the drawer, looking for a favorite story, it flew open, being empty by then. My anguished cry echoed back and forth inside it.

“Does anybody know what happened to all the books that were in the closet drawer in my room?” I asked both my parents when I finally recovered my wits enough to get to my feet and stagger into the living room.

“Oh, sure,” Dad said, and told me all about the library paperback trade. “Those were a lot of fun to read,” he added. He probably even thanked me for saving them all for him to find later, too. Well, I couldn’t get mad at him, could I? And he did get a doubly good deal out of them. I sure did miss those books, though.

Dad Does Books | 6:58 pm CST
Category: books, Dad, daily drivel, entertainment, O'Folks
4 Comments | Add a comment

4 Comments

  1. 1 The Seanster said at 10:07 pm on November 16th, 2010:

    “Two or three hundred books”? Father, I am in awe. :)

  2. 2 B said at 6:31 am on November 17th, 2010:

    How many times that number do you estimate we have now, Sean?

  3. 3 The Seanster said at 11:36 pm on November 17th, 2010:

    Uh…5x?

  4. 4 B said at 9:47 pm on November 18th, 2010:

    I think you’re seriously lowballing it…