I'm aware that certain people think that I only spend money on books. How they ever arrived at such an outrageous conclusion, I can't imagine; after all, I occasionally buy groceries. And I put gasoline in the car* at least once a month. When pressed, I've even been known to buy clothes (although, unlike some bloggers, I can lay no claims to sartorial sophistication). Thus, while books may be the most significant outgo of my spare income, I have--on occasion--been known to spend money on other things. On occasion, mind you.
In recent months, I've been looking at my furniture. Within my family circle, the verb "to look" often means one of two related things: 1) that the viewer is contemplating an action, but pointedly refusing to carry through (e.g., "I looked at the bills"); 2) that the viewer is irritated by something or other, but not doing anything about it at present (e.g., "I looked at the crack in the dining room ceiling"). Right now, I'm using "look" according to sense #2. Indeed, I'm turning a gimlet-eyed glare on my poor furniture, which--aside from the thirty bookcases, all but one solid oak or pine**--just barely clears the "pecunious graduate student" level. As in, "if I ever move, none of this is coming with me." I'm seated at a melamine and somewhat malformed computer desk, in a reasonably functional but not exactly ergonomic chair. My little dining room table and chairs are suspiciously wobbly. The entertainment center is feeling some separation anxiety when it comes to its cardboard backing. I have yet to graduate from sleeping on a futon. And as the couch entered my household before the cats, I fear that I neglected to calculate the likely effects of feline claws on tweedy, open-weave fabric. In fact, my house contains only two serious items of furniture: a velvet recliner and a big oak rolltop desk with all sorts of fun cubby holes, lined drawers, and so on. (The latter, a gift from Mom the Ex-School Administrator, realized a lifelong dream of mine, which originated when my family housesat for John Leonard in the late 70s. Is there anything more fascinating than a really elaborate rolltop?)
Goshdarnit, I want real furniture in my life. Granted, the steeply sloping roof in my bedroom rules out a pretty four-poster bed--living in a Cape Cod does have its downside, I suppose--but how about something with, you know, a real mattress? Or an entertainment center made out of actual wood? I'd be happy with an unclawed sofa to match my recliner. (The recliner, incidentally, has remained unclawed; cats can't do much with velvet.) The books, however, seem strangely unconcerned about furniture other than bookcases. No wonder--they've got it better than I do. Such ingratitude!***
(We now return to our usual programming.)
*--The car, which is fifteen years old, offers unheard-of opportunities for comic relief. Sample query, from my mother: "Did anything fall off the car today?" (Or, alternatively: "Did the car start today?") How much did David Horowitz say I'm making, again?
**--Hey, 5,000+ books occupy a lot of shelf space. I bought the house for the books, which is why they're given pride of place in my voicemail message ("You've reached xxx-xxx-xxxx, home to a large number of books and a small human being. Only the books are here right now, but if you leave a message after the beep, the human being will return your call as soon as possible").
***--Yes, it is a bad sign when you start anthropomorphizing your books in a blog post. Then again, family friends have made pointed allusions to rabbits.