Answering | Newberry


It  is apparently coming up on summer, despite the strange things the weather has been doing lately.  I know this because I am starting to get those two phone calls.  “Are you having your Book fair again this year?’ and “When do you stop accepting books?”  Calls like these always impress me.  I am amazed by my ability to answer the questions and hang up the phone before I say what I’m really thinking.

Yes, by the way, we ARE having our Book Fair again this year, and I do not blame you at all for not understanding that when I answered the phone, as I always do, by saying “Book Fair!”  Hearing the sound of my actual voice, instead of that stellar recording, has so astounded you that you could not frame another question and just blurted out the first thing that came to your mind.

(By the way, YES, I do know that the recording still says “We are collecting books for the 2012 Book Fair.”  I haven’t changed it yet because it’s a long message, and I need to get at least five minutes of silence in the room to sit down and speak it all again.  And that’s not going to happen this side of the McCullough Dinner.  Or didn’t you know this is THE place to be this spring?)

 We are, as I say, having a Book Fair, and it’s all spelled out elsewhere on this website, and it will be at the end of July, as is traditional.  No, we did NOT hold it in June last year: that’s the printer’s Row Litfest.  No, we did not have it in August last year; we have not held the Book Fair in August since the Reagan Administration.

 Now, as to that second question, I am always tempted to say, “Ooh, I’m sorry.  You missed it.  We accept books only from 3 to 4 P.M. the Monday after Walter Newberry’s birthday.  Try again next year.”

 Officially, we say we stop accepting books on the Fourth of July (which is being held again this year on July 4).  It is amazing to me how many people assume this means we stop accepting books on Memorial Day.  You put the flag out on both holidays, but they are not the same, I promise you.

 Now, the fact of the matter is that that deadline is as artificial as any other.  What I’d really like to do is have a special Book Fair flagpole out front, where I could raise a black flag, indicating “We love your books, honest, but somebody just dropped off 105 boxes and we’d like to get those sorted before we get any more.”  The Newberry kind of likes this idea, but will not go along with the machine gun nest I have suggested as an accessory.  And without the salt, why bother with the fries?

I’ve tried this on people, you know.  I had an irate donor once demand why I hadn’t picked up his five boxes of books yet.  I explained that one volunteer was having knee surgery, another was packing up books for a lady who had 4,000 books on shelves in her basement, and my sole remaining volunteer was doing his fourth pickup of the week.

The donor said, “Well, that’s not MY fault!”  There’s an answer to that, I’m sure.  I just haven’t thought of it yet, what with the Y2K bug and the Rapture and all that other business along the line.  And I have to put a roast in the oven.

Anyway, anybody who asks nicely can bring in books any old time at all, and we take them in.  So the answer is “We never stop accepting books.  After the Fourth of July we stop smiling; that’s all.”

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