So I must report at the outset, if you were worrying about me in my trials and tribulations, that there were no banana boxes full of books when I returned to the Newberry after two weeks in the wild and wintry west. Hands up all those who spent their December worrying about me and my banana boxes. Yeah, I thought so. And you still had the nerve to tell Santa you were a good little kumquat.
I do not know whether to attribute this to a shortage of banana boxes in winter (they could be seasonal; I wouldn’t know) or the gentle message I left on voicemail asking people to hold off at the end of December. There were several people who loved my little message, which noted that the building was going to be solidly locked up for seven of the fifteen days I would be away, and it would be silly the drop off books on those days. The message went on to note that since a lot of the staff would be traveling, it would be silly to drop off books even when the place was open. One commentator felt that was a bit cold, but I pointed out that it was, after all, December.
Books did come in, of course, because, well, it’s the end of the year, and everyone wants another chance at that little piece of paper that says you brought books to Uncle Blogsy. Uncle Blogsy is such a favorite of the folks at the IRS that this piece of paper practically guarantees your prosperity and peace of mind for the coming year. (Why, if it’s that important to your sanity, you wait until the last two weeks of December, I’ve never been sure, but hey.)
We got some good stuff, too: autographs from Caroline Kennedy, Ruby Dee, George Will, Ossie Davis, Lauren Bacall, somebody’s collection of books on guns and marksmanship and knife manufacture (from the 30s and 40s, when it was more woodsmanship and less politics), a collection of coffee table books on art and tapestry and architecture, and a load of romances in which the protagonists are mainly human beings. (The book of erotic romances concerning vampires in Las Vegas surprised me a little, because somehow I think of Las Vegas as more of a hunting ground for other kinds of predator.) AND not one but two sets of Chinese medicine balls (a little out of tune, I thought.)
So the year has started out just as I expected it to, with books and records and videos that some of you out there NEED, and some doodaddery to add variety, and, as always. the kind of philosophical quandaries that troubled me throughout 2010. For example: should I have been insulted yesterday when the young lady walked into the men’s room, looked me straight in the face, and said, “Am I in the wrong restroom?”