When I was nine or ten years old I developed a taste for public library books. I grew up in a nice quiet suburban town, a bedroom community in Bergen County, in North Jersey. My sister and I loved to read. We’d take out 4 or 6 books from the library every two weeks. We thought nothing of riding our bikes to the library, a distance of at least 2 miles, to retrieve a stack of books in our bicycle baskets. In the summer, we read even more.
One day I tore off a corner of a library book page and put it in my mouth. I liked the taste. I chewed it for awhile, and decided to tear off another corner. And that led to another and another. When I had a nice big satisfying wad of paper and the taste was gone, I spit it out.
Thus began my habit of eating library books. At first, I was discreet and removed only a few corners from a book. I found certain pages tasted better than others. I can’t say I selected books based on taste, because I did not sample them in the library, but waited until I got home.
This habit went on for awhile. I noticed a few books I had previously taken out were on the shelves with little sleeves painstakingly glued over the empty corners. One day the librarian called my mother. “Do you know your daughter is destroying our library books?” The librarian had taken out a book after I returned it and noticed a large number of corners were gone.
My mother demanded I get into the car so we could go to the library. I was terrified, cried, deeply ashamed, and begged her to not make me go inside. She allowed me to remain in the car while she talked to the librarian. They worked out a deal that I had to pay for the cost of replacing the book I had eaten. Ever the logical child, I asked if I could keep the book I had paid for (there were still many more corners to be enjoyed). Neither the librarian nor my mother thought I should have the book.
I had to set a goal of not eating any more books. It was hard. I loved them. But on some level I knew that if I returned any more books with corners missing that I might be denied access to the library. That was unthinkable. So reluctantly, I gave up eating books. My sister, though, ate school books. My mother worked out a deal with the teachers.
Then I began playing with wax from candles and heating the wax again. That was fun until the glass ashtray cracked from the heat and dumped the flaming wax onto my bedspread. But that is another story.
We’ll help you stay away from eating library books or melting wax.
Patricia Iyer MSN RN LNCC is president of The Pat Iyer Group. She was a quirky kid. Read about how she systematically dismantled her chenille bathrobe here.
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