Holiday Remarks | Page 45 | Newberry

Holiday Remarks

We’re closed this weekend.

Let me define for a moment what I mean by that. I mean WE ARE CLOSED THIS WEEKEND.

Let me rephrase that. We ARE closed this weekend, we are CLOSED this weekend, we are closed THIS weekend.

I’ll translate. Please, pretty please with cream and tofu on it, do not bring us any books this weekend. I know the three-day weekend is an excellent time for cleaning up and cleaning out. Why, I plan to wash the cookie sheets from the Christmas cookies this weekend. (It’s a family tradition that started in my generation. My apartment, too.) And it may be a nice day to run over to the library with books.

But we are, if I have not mentioned this, closed. We have no one on the premises to answer the door or bring your books inside. The building operates on a skeleton staff. (We were doing this even before zombies were cool.) I still admire the ingenuity of the fellow who taped a sign over the phone box in the back asking you not to call, and taped it so that you cannot in fact open the phone box. It does no good, prunepit: the guard who answers the phone may sympathize with your plight, but is not allowed to come haul books.

I sympathize as well, you know. May is slipping by, so Smurf Singalong Month is nearly over. You want your donation to join the other singularly Smurfish items: that dainty little pocket encyclopedia, each volume smaller than a paperback book, in 25 volumes. (Too bad there are supposed to be 26) or the book that would be worth $15,000 if only I had more than volume 2. Just the other day, we got in a book that is out of print, rare, and valuable. I know that because a previous owner wrote, in red marker pen, “You’ll like this book: it’s out of print, rare, and valuable.”

We had a special edition come in this week that made people’s jaws drop. It was Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”, bound in suede, with the subtitle “The Story of a Sale”. Being something of a fan of Ebenezer Scrooge (surprise, surprise) I know that’s not the original subtitle. What it turned out to be is an edition of the Christmas classic with annotations for salesmen, to show how an unwilling customer (Scrooge) was sold something (Christmas), using proven sales techniques. They’re not writing ‘em like that any more, peppermint egg roll.

Ah, and someone has given us a lovely set of books from the 1840s: American Archives. It was an attempt to collect historic documents and print transcripts of them, and we have been given complete sets of the fourth and fifth series. What makes this so Smurfy is that the editor never actually got around to printing the first, second, or third series: the fourth and fifth were all there were. So we actually have the whole thing, barring the facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, which seems to have been torn out of most copies.

Maybe that’s the grand finale of Smurf Singalong month: could it get any better? Oh, yes, of course: when you drop off that set WITH the Declaration still inside it, but it gets rained on because you forgot that we are kind of, um, closed this weekend.

Talk to you again in June, anchovy milkshake. Wear sunscreen, don’t let anybody see you putting ketchup on your hot dog, and remember not to drop off any books. (Did I mention we’re closed?) 

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