In the aftermath of the Final Assault at Borders, after the Last Mass pillaging of its items by customers jangling keys with Mercedes Benz emblems, wagging Coach purses, swearing, bullying, talking down and talking over overworked young employees while attempting to finagle cheap goods down to practically nothing -- I realized that we, or at least Donna, came away a big winner. And that is no surprise.
While my cache was a single, modest memento, a paperback of essays, the pint-size Size Queen I live with made out “like bandits.” Donna is after all the one I had to talk down from buying a 64-inch HD screen (fearing it might rob me of my desire to even bother going to the movies), and for whom only Benzes and Audis suffice, as, she claims, other types of cars such as (the recently disposed of) Infinity 35X -- “a poor man’s rich car”-- are not “roomy” enough for all of her five foot two-inch needs.
Certainly Donna had to be one of the most adventurous and successful of those vying for remains at the colossal Borders wake, for, in its aftermath, I found myself stepping into a living room I barely recognized. Five-foot shelves ( filled with bric-a-brac and fresh titles) perched like book ends at either side of the 58-inch HD masterpiece we did settle for. Even the basement changed, as now, before the washer and dryer sits a massive set of metal shelves accommodating not one but several tripods and several cases with video equipment.
Then there are the 20 walkie talkies sitting on the kitchen counter. And the books on film and fine Italian cuisine – each, five pounds or more – that are also now nesting here.
My own particular addiction is – surprise, surprise -- books, especially paperbacks that stack easily or can be easily tucked into the wide pockets of purses or knapsacks. (My Kindle, a Christmas present, goes to work with me every day, as it’s the ultimate easy carry). The night tables in my room are stacked with piles of books, all read, and whose titles I must see, and be free to peruse as easily as the mind of a close friend at a moment’s notice.
My final Borders purchase was a yellow paperback with a six-fingered hand on the cover, Augusten Burrough’s collection of essays, Possible Side Effects, which I tried to savor slowly, story by story, each night for a couple of weeks before going to sleep. Some essays stirred me; a few made me smile and chuckle; others pricked me with their sudden, surprising and unnecessary meanness, a characteristic I find particularly loathsome in literature. I read Burrough’s book with its bitter undercurrent, as if I’d picked out a lemon from a bowl of fruit – Even though I can appreciate the smarts that produced it.
When all was said and done, after Borders’ shelves and bookcases had been ransacked, its spoils taken – for better or worse, when only U-Hauls decorated the parking lot, and there was not a shard left, even of memories of the place, its functions or its people, after I had walked away with my own small treasure and explored it, I thought, what next?
What will replace Borders? -- A gym? Or an office for dentists? Or accountants? -- As if there are already not enough of these.
I had better get into the habit of walking around with a book, finding my own place, wherever it be –a corner seat in a café, a bench in a park, or even a cement stoop. My future will be filled with random acts of reading, snatches of consciousness stolen from the consuming melee.