Pop Culture Gadabout
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
      ( 9/18/2012 07:06:00 AM ) Bill S.  

AND MILES TO GO BEFORE I READ. (In which our hero makes a half-assed conceptual leap after recalling an old school book club.) Back in those distant days when folks mainly did their reading through print books, I was once a proud member of the Arrow Book Club. The club, one of several initiated through Scholastic Publishers in the late forties/early fifties, provided cheap paperbacks that were ordered through your schools. Arrow was focused on grades four through six, and to a kid living in the country of Connecticut, away from any bookstores and a good drive to the Rockville Public Library, they were a great source for new cheap books. Throughout the school year, we would get flyers with books to order and would eagerly bring in change to order two or three new books. The ones I chose were mainly joke books devoted to mildly funny family friendly jokes or riddles as well as mysteries. I used to love it when a new order of Arrow Books arrived at our class.

Unfortunately, as we approached the end of my fourth grade, the last order of the school year hadn’t yet arrived. The final day of class, our teacher promised to mail our orders to us when they finally got there. Man, was that a long summer. Six days a week, I remember walking down to the mailbox to see if my literary bounty had arrived. It never did, of course. At some point, the teacher decided it’d be easier to wait until the next school year began and disseminate the books to the returning fifth graders. I was relieved when I finally got them, but I also remember feeling a sense of betrayal, too. All summer, I’d been dutifully waiting for my books to arrive, and they hadn’t. A promise had been broken.

I was brought back to this moment recently when I found myself absently considering the nature of promises. (It’s an election year – promises abound.) Most religions are founded on a promise: that if you live your live dutifully (keep trudging to that mailbox!) you’ll be rewarded in whatever comes next. Most of the time, I’m not sure I have it in me to rely on such assurances. But, then, I remember that even as an adult, I still get immense pleasure from the simple act of driving to the post office and discovering a package with a review copy of a book in it. I think of that young boy, eagerly approaching the old country mailbox with the hope that there’ll be something wrapped in brown paper waiting for him, and I know that this anticipation can be its own small reward.

So it is with faith, I suspect.


# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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