Sunday, August 9, 2020
"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.