In our house the care and keeping of books ranks right up there with the care and keeping of our pets.
I would even go so far as to say that we have unspoken book rules. Everyone knows that we…
1. Do not break the spines of paperbacks.
2. Do not fold over corners of pages to mark our spots. (We have a wide range of bookmarks to choose from.)
3. Do not leave books splayed open on their stomachs. (You know what I mean.)
4. Do not write in books.
5. Do not eat cheetos while reading.
6. Always, always, always treat our books as if they are valued members of the household (because they are).
Those are the big rules, and it is always with a bit of trepidation in our hearts when we loan out our books to friends wondering if they will be returned to us in the same condition. We can’t help it -- it’s like sending our children to play at a new house.
Chelsea and Connor have grown up knowing what taking care of a book should entail.
Case in point:
A couple of years ago when Chelsea finished reading Catching Fire (the second in The Hunger Games trilogy), she came barging out of her room…
Chelsea: I need Mockingjay RIGHT NOW! (Catching Fire does end in a bit of a cliffhanger.)
Me: I’m sorry, honey, I borrowed the copy I read from a student and already returned it to her.
Chelsea: WHAT??? WHAT??? You have got to be kidding me.
Stomp, stomp, stomp. SLAM.
Yes, my daughter had stormed off and slammed her door she was so upset.
But she wasn’t finished.
Creak. BAM! SLAM!
Connor turned to me, his eyes as wide as saucers, and whispered, “Did she just throw the book???”
Yes, Connor, in an ultimate act of teenage rebellion and defiance, Chelsea had committed one of the cardinal sins of book care and thrown Catching Fire. I could almost hear the words she had not spoken out loud, “Take that, Mom, for not having a copy of Mockingjay in the house.”
Recreated crime scene.
So, my children know only too well what taking care of a book means.
Which leads me to today’s story. My forced monetary donation to our local public library.
I love our library. I really do. They tend to have a great selection of books and almost without fail they always have the newest books I am dying to read but do not want to purchase for myself.
Recently I stumbled across a reference to the Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Georgia. It is a darling little bakery, and on my list of must-dos for our Thanksgiving trip to Tybee will be a stop at Back in the Day. MUST. DO.
They even have a cookbook which I promptly checked out from our library (with visions of buying my own (maybe autographed) copy in November from the bakery).
Who wouldn’t want to visit this charming place?
Since I had the cookbook, I had to try out some of the recipes. My eye is on the Old-Fashioned Cupcakes (I even found a supplier of those adorable vintage toppers -- Sweet Estelle), but I decided to try the Snickerdoodle cookies first.
While I was cooking, Connor came in to fix a drink. Charles had bought those annoying generic Mio drink things -- a couple of squirts into a glass of water makes a kool-aid type drink. The children, of course, find these very novel and fun.
Connor was not watching where he aimed.
Evidence Exhibit A: The Weapon
Evidence Exhibit B: The Victim.
As soon as it happened, Connor was close to tears. “Oh my gosh, Mom, I am so sorry! So sorry! I thought it was over the glass. I am so sorry.”
Connor was absolutely distraught. The very fact that he apologized over and over again shows just how sincere he was. That child does not like to say he is sorry. He got in trouble last week for a completely unrelated incident and was grounded from the computer until he admitted he had done it and that he was sorry. He lasted almost four days before he said it. That’s a long time for him to be separated from his beloved Minecraft.
Actually, I have no doubt that Connor felt actual physical pain from hurting the book. I know this because I felt actual physical pain from watching that red concentrate seep all over the page. I tried to stay calm, reassure Connor, and carry on with life.
When it was time to return the book, I decided to be honest and took the book to the circulation desk. I really truly and honestly thought I would just be paying a damage fee. After all, the book was stained but it was only the one page that actually had any juice on it -- the rest was just on the edges of the pages.
No damage fee.
I get to buy the entire book.
I tried to reason with the librarian even going so far as to explain about the Savannah trip and everything. Call me a book snob, but I don’t want a book that has Bartow County Library stamped on it.
There was no budging her, though. I am going to have to buy the book when my renewal on it is over.
I am trying very hard to think of it as a donation to the library, but it isn’t sticking in my head yet.
Moral of the Story: Remove books when juice is on the counter.