There's a really fabulous Clive James poem out there that begins,
The book of my enemy has been remaindered,
And I am pleased.
The rest of the poem is great, too, but like the title of Snakes on a Plane, those first two lines tell you everything you need to know. Schadenfraude is not nice, I know, but don't we all indulge in it, and isn't it satisfying in an evil and unnecessary way to see some really hubristic, over-hyped tome sitting around with the $4.95 sticker on it at Dog-Eared Books.
Except, of course, when it's YOUR book. And not even stickered, but in the free box. Or, to be completely honest, not even IN the free box, but simply dumped on the Saturday-morning steps of the still-shuttered Red Hill Books with the Lance Armstrong biography and the tattered movie tie-in edition of Lord of the Rings, just ASPIRING, hoping for a home in the free box.
Yes, that was me yesterday morning, admiring my name up on the poster advertising last week's Astrology Cookbook party, when I looked down and saw my name, again, this time on my own previous book, which had been dumped like an old pair of shoes on the steps.
The pages were studded with post-its; whoever had owned the book had liked the recipes for hot honey lemonade and avocado-honey hair mud enough to make it easy to find the right pages. But clearly, not enough to provide continued indoor bookshelf space.
I called E. to tell him, since he'd been privy to the labor it took to birth that particular book, and of course he laughed with me. "Did you pick it up?" he asked, and the answer was damn skippy I picked it up! It's mine!
And then, still talking, I got on a BART train downtown only to see a dude sprawled on the front seat, pants around his ankles, pissing grandly into the carpet in a show-stopping arc, a fountain the likes of which I'd really never seen before, even when changing the diapers of my infant nephew. I wish I could erase this image from my brain, but I fear it's going to be there for a long, long time. Even four years of riding the NYC subway hadn't really prepared me for this.