Sunday, August 9, 2020

Book end



     "Do you have a bookend for me?" my wife asked. 
      We were in the kitchen. Some cookbooks needed to be moved and then, I suppose, propped up.
     "Sure!" I replied, turning on a dime and trotting upstairs to my office. No time like the present! Plus, I'm a sucker for a really good bookend, and as the newspaper office has moved and downsized a couple times, they're always being discarded by my less bookend-o-centric colleagues, and—I am ashamed to admit—I am not beyond lifting a couple out of a rolling bin of discarded office chairs and tangled telephones and law directories. 
    Let's say I have more than I actually can use, tucked in my closet. I grabbed a solid industrial steel bookend that would keep the Gutenberg Bible from toppling over.
      Though heading downstairs with a good bookend, a little daylight entered into that question. Not "Do you have a bookend?" But "Do you have a book end?" 
    I realized—damn!—that I had missed an opportunity. Blown my line, as it were. I did have a book end and a good one. Do-overs are never the same. But I couldn't help myself. The temptation was too great. I arrived in the kitchen. 
     "Ask me again!" I said, twirling the the bookend in my hands.
     My wife, the poor woman, is used to this kind of thing. More than she or anyone ought to be. She paused only a second.
     "Do you..." she began, bracing herself for the inevitable, "have a book end...for me?"
     "I sure do!" I said, grinning. "'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly back into the past.'"
     I smiled. "The Great Gatsby." The last sentence. 
     I'm not sure what I expected. Applause maybe.
     She took the bookend and went to see to her cookbooks.

7 comments:

  1. A prophet is never appreciated in his own kitchen. Alas.

    john

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  2. Although I have never been able to properly appreciate The Great Gatsby, I like that line and think of it often.

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  3. Not quite the last sentence, but I've always been partial to the send off George Eliot (Maryanne Evans) gave her heroine Dorothea Brooks on the final page of "Middlemarch." For what it says about the heritage of good people who live
    unsung lives.

    "But the effect of her being on those about her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."

    Written perhaps in an era when it was possible to believe in "the growing good of the world."

    Tom

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  4. The thing that annoys me in the Great Gatsby is the frequent referrals to “ash heaps” when he’s really describing garbage dumps. You can’t have a big ash heap outside because ash blows away with the wind.

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  5. Your wife’s deadpan non-response — delicious!

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