A scholastic book fair to an elementary school student is like happy hour to an adult. From the multitude of genres of literature, to the school supplies, and toys, there is always something for everyone; it's like having everyone's favorite beer on tap.
Spy books with edible paper and cool gadgets always tickled my fancy. And with the 10 to 20 dollars I was generally given to run a muck with, I'd indulge in toys and pretty things rather than books to read. Back then, I wasn’t much of a reader. Now, however, saying that I'm an avid reader barely breaks the surface of describing my love of books. I’m addicted!
Anyways, one particular year, my dad gave me money for the book fair. But the money came with conditions. I, in addition to my usual nonsense buys, had to pick a book that I would in fact actually read. I agreed gladly. But I only planned on reading a page or two, of whatever had a pretty cover. I tended to be a “pick a book by the cover” kind of girl. And I’m not ashamed.
After not so much consideration, I selected a book about unicorns. Very cliche, but also imagine what the cover looked like. No sane kid could resist the mythological creatures that blessed it.
Later on after school, my dad informed me that it was time to make good on my promise. Disappointment overcame me. He never said when I had to read the book. It was time to play, not read! I lived next door to my cousins. And every day after school we played until their mom got home. Their mom surely was not home.
Play after school was a very important time in a kid's life. It's like a smoke break at lunch for an adult; I needed the stress relief. And on top of that, I was definitely not in the mood for cops and robbers to have to wait. Justice had to be served and this was definitely not it.
After a few pouts, I complied and read a few pages. Then, I went over to my dad and asked if I could go outside yet. The answer was a firm “no”. I was shocked. I was crushed. He never said I had to finish it! But clearly that's exactly what he had meant. He wouldn’t let me go until I read the entire book! I’m telling you; he was crazy. But little did he know, I was crazier. I wanted to wreak havoc on my bike with my cousins more than anything. And there was nothing that was going to keep me from running head first into the abyss of playful shenanigans, not even a wretched chapter book.
So I planted my ass on the couch and with the speed of Barry Allen I read every last word to the very last page. I comprehended it all. And although I didn’t forget about my need to be free, I momentarily paused. I was a little distracted because of the fact that I kind of liked reading. And little did I know a new interest was brewing inside me.
Back to my mission. I went over to where my dad was and told him all about the new world I was introduced to. I told him about the troubles the unicorns faced. I detailed their many adventures. I even went into detail about the unicorn's human companions.
I am completely full of crap. I barely remember the specific details of what occurred. At least 45 percent of this story is made up. I think. That’s just how young I was. But stay with me. See the big picture. I was in awe. I really did read the book faster than the speed of light. I liked it. And then I played. But no one knew that day would be the birth of my greatest vice. That day a demon was born.
From that day forward, every time I opened a book, I was compelled to finish it in one sitting. If I didn't, I couldn't focus on anything. I couldn't eat; I couldn't even sleep, until I fulfilled my calling. These books were like sirens and I was like a sailor walking off the plank to an imminent death. I couldn't control it. I was on a perpetual trip. And like most addictions, mine burned through everyone’s wallets. I would see a book that I loved–yes by a glance at the cover– and then was overcome with the need to devour it. My desire was, and has been ever since, insatiable. However years later, I was in my teens when my mom put her foot down.
One night, we had just returned from Target. Mom bought me a new hardcover book by Sarah Dessen-- who was by far my favorite author at the time. This was a treat as I usually bought discounted books. I was so excited to read it that the second the car pulled into the driveway, I sprinted to my room. A few hours passed, and I tumbled down the stairs full of hope. I was on a mission to find my next fix. I needed to play my cards right. I needed my sweet sweet mother to love me enough to bring my ass back to Target before they closed to purchase, yet another, book. I'd even get a soft cover if she'd just say "yes." If you know, you know.
But by the time I skipped over to my mom, like she was my fairy godmother, I could tell my luck had run out. She looked at me like she knew exactly what was on my mind. She knew what bullshit I was about to spew. And my hopes and dreams were torn. You know the look I'm talking about. I knew I was about to experience another intervention. Then she looked over and glared at my dad. He knew what he did.
And that’s the story of how my dad began sleeping on the couch... I mean, that’s the story of why I reopened my library card. It all began with the book that forever changed my life.