Fail: the prince’s water bottle went kablooie in his backpack, soaking his copy of Steinbeck’s The Pearl. I’m an old hand at this since the flood in our basement several years ago threatened papercide of my vintage journals (note to self: archived gold for future posts, hello 1980!). So, to the oven; in 35 minutes at 225 degrees it was done, albeit ruffled and slightly brittle. The prince, a conscientious book borrower, was worried about its condition: oh, he said, I don’t think they’re gonna like that. I assured him that we’d pay for it if the Comm Arts teacher objected, but I told him books are meant to be read, held, touched, fondled, loved, abused. Break that spine! Bend those corners! My favorite books open easily to the most reviewed parts and no, they’re not the porny passages.
Speaking of porn, I gave my dear friend Stella a used copy of a cook book by Rocco DiSpirito (from a used book store), realizing only the second I handed it to her that she is more germaphobic than me and that’s saying something. I told her she didn’t have to cook with it, she could simply use rubber gloves to turn the pages, look at the images of Rocco, and picture him wearing just a tiny red half-apron embroidered with an arrow pointing up and the words “My Eyes are Up There, Ladies.”
But my point is that books of all kinds are the physical manifestation of our love of stories and so are worn, torn, splattered and sneezed on. I have returned books to the library with Jolly Rancher wrapper book marks; I have delved into library books whose pages were peppered with the previous reader’s popcorn bits. These are used campsites, sometimes gross with others’ detritus but nearly always temples: learning, or joy, or heartache, happened here. Holy ground, christened with a kid’s sports bottle.