Tom Carpenter Columnist
I bought a used book that day. Hardly worth publishing in my life. My early demise was likely the result of a tower of books overturning and burying me under a heap of pulp and mockery. The personal library I’ve had my whole life contains contains the organizational structure of the rat’s store.
Like bagged mice, I come home from the second-hand bookstore, my eyes twinkling with delight at the latest and most “valuable” acquisitions. I sit at my desk and open the storage unit. I turn the pages slowly, carefully, even tenderly. Oh. Aaah.
What is that? Poetry? more than one? A puff of breath sends dozens into the air. Was the last reader of this book a dog groomer? Forcefully, I blow my hair off the pages, shaking my head in disappointment. How can this be?
Whoever buys a used book should expect to accept a few drawbacks: fringing (pencil or pencil, and ink!), even the occasional stroke of the highlighter, but dog hair? Or is it cat hair? No, it’s definitely dog hair. One with a thick coat. I primed the magnifying glass. Maybe German Shepherd. or a collie.
Hmmm. I’m browsing the remaining pages. Some have follicles. Others do not. Even the last pages have dog hair embedded in the crease. There’s enough here to crochet a Yorkie. I go back to the front of the book to see if the previous owner’s name is written on the page. no thing.
People also read…
All I can conclude is that someone with a dog read this book before me.
The range of my spying skills is restricted, as one of my cats wanders around the room and settles down beside my writing stand where I keep clear for her visits. Want some attention. So, I rub her head and caress each ear between my index finger and thumb. I do this while I keep turning the pages with my free hand. tend to more. I stick to it spontaneously, keeping my eyes and my thoughts on the book and its shaggy pages.
Finally, satiated and frowning, she nibbles my hand to put an end to my requests and jumps off my desk. I watch her go. I think to myself, “Cat Food,” and I go back to the book.
There is more poetry in the book now. many others. Black hair from my cat mixed with coarse hair from “Shep” or “Rover”.
One day, my heirs will get themselves out of this jumble of a crowded library. One day, this will be my last acquisition back on the bookseller’s shelves. And one day after that, he’ll buy another book slayer. And she, or she, will open it slowly, carefully, even tenderly.
“Oh. Aaaah, she or she will say. Then, ‘What is that?” “Cat hair?” And dog hair?” And so the mystery, which multiplies and confuses two kinds and the love of books, will repeat itself, and perhaps more, and different, it may one day fall upon these same pages.
After all, there are, I am told, book lovers who have Capuchin monkeys as pets.