Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some of my best friends have been books.

The second grade was not a good year for me. We moved to Nebraska the year before and, although there were some great things going on and I learned to really enjoy it, I did have some issues adjusting.

One day, I wore my jean jacket with a 25th anniversary of Long Beach patch, and I was surrounded by a group of locals, ending up with a bloody lip and getting lectured by the teacher about why we don't choke people.

We also got in trouble for staging a large gang fight on the playground and my Cub Scout shirt was a long sleever, while everyone else had short sleeved ones. That, for some dumb reason, caused a great deal of consternation for me.

But, the worst thing I can remember came on the day of the book exchange.

I had grown to love the book, The Great Cheese Conspiracy, by Jean Van Leeuwen. It was my all time favorite book and I read it over and over. I thought it would be a great book to share with someone else at the book exchange.

When I tossed it in the pile and got my new book in return, I was so disappointed. I figured everyone else would step out with their best foot forward too and I would get some other great book. Perhaps a new world of friends in a book. Maybe even a new favorite book, that I could visit time and again.

What I got in return was some dumb picture book that someone had probably outgrown. Fortunately, being a weepy, bratty second grader, my ill planned exchange was undone. I held on to that thing for several years after.

We still have a copy of that book around. It is no longer one of my favorites, but I do remember what it is like to have a friend whisked away in a vain attempt to find another. And, I still understand all the effort that goes into planning a cheese burglary.

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