Sometimes I do things that just make me shake my head and ask, “what’s wrong with me?” The most recent example of this dovetails well with my last post about the T.V. show, Collection Intervention. As I explained there, I tend to sympathize with the collectors in that show despite the fact that I think the producers want the viewer to go the other way. But if some chick rolled into my house and told me I needed to get rid of 1/2 my stuff AND I need to see a therapist, She’d get my size twelves right in the butt. But then again, a case maybe could be made that I do need professional help. Let me explain…
So, here’s the deal and some background. Back in 1984, when I was a freshman in high school, a couple of my nerd buddies flipped out when they found out I’d never read The Lord Of The Rings. We had one of those “drop what you’re doing and go get this” moments.
It was around Christmas, so when my mom asked what I wanted, I mentioned Professor Tolkien’s masterpiece. I soon found the Silver Jubilee Edition boxed set of paperbacks under the tree Christmas morning. The set includes a copy of The Hobbit and I devoured all four books faster than I’d ever read anything in my life. And when I finished Return of the King, I started all over again with, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
Fast forward eighteen years to 2011. By now, that little boxed set was pretty worn out. As far as I can remember, it may be the only edition of LOTR I’ve ever read. I’ve owned several hardcover editions, but for some reason I always picked up those old paperbacks when it was time to re-visit Middle-Earth.
Then, of course, on the night of June 5, 2011, our home went up in flames. I’ve talked before (on my other, sadly neglected blog) about the shock of walking into one’s own burned out home and finding 99% of your possessions burned up, melted, soaking wet, moldy, and covered in soot & debris–or some combination of the above. One of the first things I looked at when I ventured into our bedroom a few days later was my LOTR boxed set. I didn’t have much hope and as expected, it was water-logged and smoke damaged beyond any hope of recovery.
So, the Silver Jubilee LOTR boxed set has been on my “Need To Get” list for awhile now. But it’s taken me 2 1/2 years to find a set that wasn’t either priced by an obvious Crack smoker or one that looked like it had washed up on a beach.
About a week ago, I was perusing Tolkien-related stuff on Etsy when BAM! that familiar set of orange, blue, green, and red paperbacks scrolled onto my iPhone screen. I looked at the price expecting another Crack-induced price point and had to do a double-take. Fifteen bucks–including shipping. And the books looked to be in great shape. Honestly, I didn’t even look all that close–I couldn’t push the “Checkout” button fast enough.
So, you probably get it by now. I love this story and I love this kinda-ugly little set of books. So what’s the problem? Well, seeing The Hobbit–The Desolation of Smaug last month got that fever burning to read LOTR again. So, for the 5 days it took the books to arrive from Connecticut, I was getting super amped to curl up in the Nerd Cave for a few hours. And yeah, I could’ve started reading my hardcover edition, but I was kinda wanting to kick it with the paperbacks for old time’s sake.
And then, HOLY CRAP, they arrived! These things are about as close to “Near Mint” as you can get 30 years after publication. The slip-case is a little dinged up on the edges, but the books themselves are in beautiful shape. As an experienced Bookologist, I could clearly tell they’d never been read. Maybe never even cracked. And therein lies my dilemma. They’re in such good condition that I’m afraid to read them.
Well, not “afraid.” More like, “Gee, I hate to wear out such nice looking copies.” And the whole time, the other half of my brain is going, “Say what? They’re only books.” I only paid $15–wayyyy less than I’d pay for the equivalent editions today. It’s not like I’m putting Little Man through college on these books.
So yesterday morning, after finishing up some chores, I plopped down on the couch with my little teal-blue copy of The Fellowship Of The Ring. It was quiet and oddly, nobody was bothering me. Conditions were perfect. But I couldn’t do it.
As I opened the cover, the binding was so tight, I would have had to bend the cover back to read the first page. These books really hadn’t ever been opened before. And I just couldn’t do it. I put FOTR back in the slip case and pulled my hardcover edition off the shelf.
I’m a little ashamed of myself. What difference does it make if I wear those books out? I’m never going to sell them. In the big picture of life, it matters not even a little if the spine is creased. But there they sit on my shelf, unread–but not unloved.
So maybe I should seek counseling. Because I haven’t even gotten into a discussion of “punched” versus “unpunched” games (Gamers–you know what I’m talking about). Or the myriad of shrinkwrapped games sitting on my shelves with the occasional unopened action figure and model kit. But then I imagine my therapist asking me to bring the books to a session. Just to, you know, see what I’m talking about. And then he straps me to a chair and screams into my ear, “Open it! OPEN IT!!! BEND THAT COVER ALL THE WAY BACK NERD!!!
The Horror. The Horror.
Well, that’s about it for now. Until next time…stay nerdy my friends.
Copyright 2014 It Came From The Nerd Cave