People probably thought I was joking when I listed my employment goals as “Will work for books”. I was not joking. I will work for books. I am doing it right now. The small bookshop, where I am stationed, is next door to a talent studio. A screaming pile of elementary-aged girls occasionally spills out of this talent studio. They are all frightfully sweet and will come in and talk and peruse. We wax squee over our favorite books. And sometimes they bring their parents back and demand they produce their credit cards on threat of further ear-paralyzing vocalizations. I am all too happy to oblige.
The book shop has a small shelf of freebies near the door. One of these ebullient young dramatists discovered it today and ran out the door with with what I am certain is a 1200 page dissertation on the foreign policy of china in the 15th century. All the way back to the studio you could hear her screaming “FREE BOOKS!”.
The subsequent flood of young girls came in and clung to memoirs of famous dead alcoholics and existential novels about syphilitic cats. I imagined all their mothers coming back the next day demanding “WHY DID YOU GIVE MY 9 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER A BOOK ABOUT ANGRY, COMMUNIST LESBIANS!?”
I did what I never thought I would do. I said “No you can’t have that book.” I am sure that there is some special place in hell for me full of broken spines and dog-eared pages, where I am taunted with the moans of those who thought the movie was better.
The lure of free is so strong it causes us to clutch at our breasts free vegetable peelers at demonstrations and gravy boats at time-share seminars. Free is the currency of things we didn’t know we wanted. ‘Free’ and its cousin ‘cheap’ exert a pressure on our resolve that few can master. And hopefully their tiny hearts were placated by my meager offerings of Hershey kisses and bookmarks for books I would not let them have.