Take off the Beard | Page 50 | Newberry

Take off the Beard

You meet all kinds in this trade, as I have mentioned before. One kind of donor I haven’t mentioned is the stealth donor: someone who wants to give us books and then slip away without divulging their identity. No, these people are not giving me naughty material which would disgrace them if it became known that they had it, doggone ‘em. They give books a lot like those of other people.

One celebrity who gave us books was so famous that the people who bought them resold them on the basis of having belonged to the person involved. This may have been a bit embarrassing, but the celebrity continued to give us books. After that, though, to avoid further annoyance, the people actually bringing the books to us were asked to tear out any page bearing an inscription. I lost inscriptions from a really famous senator, an Oscar-winning actress, and a future Hall-of-Fame baseball player that way.

A local author (not Sara Paretsky, if you’re playing guessing games) inked out her name on all these boxes of her own books sent to her by the publisher. Um, first of all, I can actually read that if the label is held to the light just right. Second, who ELSE is going to give me seventy brand new copies of her books? And, third, in a box of books she had actually read and was sending over, one was inscribed to her. Maybe she was just trying to keep her address from becoming public, but in that case, why did she just ink out her name on the labels?

See, if you really want to keep your donation secret, I can give you several tips. Don’t get a receipt, for starters, because on there you have to tell us your name and address anyhow. Second, do NOT deliver the books in a sports car that costs more than the Book Fair made last year, wearing a pair of shoes that cost more than I made last month, and think I’m not going to get curious. (I found THAT person’s name in a book, and inquired of the chiefs around here if they knew it. Turned out they’d been trying to get him to donate money for a couple of decades.) By the way, a bow tie always makes me curious about your identity. Anybody with the intestinal fortitude to sport a bow tie these days is at the very least an interesting person to know.

Third, why all this fretting about admitting you owned a book once in your life, anyhow? I can understand hiding your address, but, really, I’m not on the hotline to the Christian Science Monitor to reveal that you wrote your name in a copy of “How to Cure Wrinkles in 30 Days.” The National Enquirer does not have me on the string to report immediately who’s reading “Swiss Bank Accounts for Fun and Profit.” Honest, whatever you donate to the Book Fair is between us, and shall remain a secret among us three.

(You, me, and the Internet.) 

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