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I wanna be that kind of book

I pick the book up from its assigned resting spot and attempt to flip through its pages. Each one sticks to the next. I can’t for the life of me get them separated. I fiddle with the edges. I try and slide the corner. I gather a handful of pages hoping the random shuffle will loosen the page I want. No luck. Thunk, thunk, thunk, go the chunks of text.

Clearly, no one has freed this book from its hot-off-the-presses status. But how… without licking my fingers? Such a Pre-Covid thought, that. In my bag I have a contraband water bottle, perhaps some moisture from that? Or maybe my gloves with fingertips designed to slide a screen would do the trick, but where are the?

Oh good grief. Yes, yes I did it. Surreptitiously, I dot my index finger with a dab of saliva and successfully work one page away from the other. Crinkle, crinkle, slide. There it goes. One page down. Only 373 more to go.

(I had the same experience at Harris Teeter yesterday, trying as I might to release the grip of the plastic bag opening without defaulting to stripping my mask from my nose and mouth and licking my fingers. Suffice to say, after setting my two gala apples on the cart left by the produce manager in order to recruit both hands for the task, I finally gave up and set both the apples and the unopened plastic bag in the bottom of my basket.) But I digress…

Today I pick up the same book from its assigned resting spot, but this one is in a different location. A more traveled location. A more popular spot. This book, I know right away, has had many visitors stop by for a visit. Its pages fall easily, one from the other. Its surfaces are crinkled and easy to grip. Its printed words seem to invite me in:

Look here and over here.
Turn to this page, now that. 
Oh, here's something you'll like! 
Wherever you want to go, I am with you. 
Just as I have been here 
for all those who have sat where you are sitting
and accepted my invitation to excursion through my pages.

I had what seemed an odd thought just then…

I would much rather be this book than the other, the one so seldom opened. I prefer risking a ragged interaction or two to sitting idle in a forgotten corner or at arms reach from an uninterested patron. I would rather be a book that’s read, that’s sung from, that’s paged through. I would rather be dog-eared, crinkled, scribbled upon or even mended after a bout of overly enthusiastic use, than pristine and shimmering, on display in some out-of-the-way spot gathering dust but inspiring no interest, no interaction, no comment.

Yes, me and that Velveteen Rabbit, we’ve done some communing over the years.

A toy, played with, is beloved. Real, even.

A book, read and re-read, beloved, too. Alive, even.

I wanna be that kind of book.

Use it or lose it. done.

Use it or lose it applies in, as far as I can tell, every situation. But what I’ve learned from those aging gracefully is there is no need to tell them that “no pain, no gain” is just bunk.

Doing the Shuffle

shuffleboard distant

I walked past the shuffleboard courts this morning. Empty, as they have been since I arrived and as I trust they will be when I leave. It’s an old person’s game, I guess. No cue’s or disks around or I might have taken a turn, just to see if I could still gauge the distance and the speed to stop the disc right where I wanted. Whether I still had the touch, the finesse and the feel of the game.

shuffleboard court

Are we even teaching that these days?  The touch and the finesse? The give with the take? The push and the pull?  Where do we develop the moderate hand that senses just how much is needed to nudge the other aside but leave my disk centered in the scoring triangle?

“Stay off the courts” it says. Oh, okay.

I suppose it’s a game for old men, a pastime whose time has passed. Maybe it’s moved indoors where folks don’t have to deal with the sand and the sun and the gawkers passing by.

I’ll come by later and see if I can find a game.

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