My lovely wife Darlene was out and about shopping the other day.
One of her stops was at a used bookstore she frequents. She normally doesn't look at the hard cover section – but for some reason this day, she did.
I didn't have it.
I don't know how my lovely wife knew I didn't have it. She doesn't exactly pore over my collection of reading material on a regular basis. She likes books about fantasy, and Vampires, and medieval times, books of the Celts in Ireland, and books that have hunky looking guys on the cover with sappy titles like "The Masters Pet" or such. I don't know if there is such a book – but if there is I will bet it's the drivel of Harlequin Romance standards and has words in it like pulsating or throbbing – and a cover with a painting of a long haired blond guy with a silky white shirt open and blowing in the wind with a castle in the background.
She leaves them lying around, you know.
I like books about baseball, and golf, and the history of baseball and the history of golf. Educational material. I like stories where a hero is out to thwart evil. I like stuff that makes me think.
And I like to read anything by Lewis Grizzard.
If you don't know – and there is no shame in not knowing – Lewis Grizzard used to be a great columnist for the Atlanta Constitution. I used to read him everyday since University. When I left Georgia, I used to try to find what papers he was published in at the Library and read his columns there.
It was Lewis Grizzard that made me want to be a journalist. But truth be told – I didn't really want to be a journalist – or even a sports writer – I just wanted to write a great sideline column like his.
Then I found his books – quite by accident (the Internet wasn't available to us back then like today – where I can type "Lewis Grizzard" in a Google search window and get 2000 potential links to great articles, tributes, and videos of the man himself speaking as though he were a standup comedian.
A couple of years ago – when I started writing headstuffing – I needed a voice to speak in – and I borrowed Mr. Grizzard's – to the best of my ability anyways – and found my own voice in the process.
Although I still like Lewis Grizzard's voice better. He did a better impression of himself than I can.
When I came home from work on this particular evening – my lovely wife was looking at me with an odd smile.
"I got you something today", she said in that singing voice she will use when trying to tease me.
I expected it might be a new back massager machine – for me to use on her back when she gets all knotted up. That is how she sang to me when she got our last back massager.
"I'll bite, what?"
She handed me a plastic bag with a book in it. I opened the bag, and as I opened it, the treasure of the book was revealed.
I quickly thumbed through the pages – the type was in large print. I admit I was a little offended at that.
"I know – it's in large print", answered my lovely wife before I could audibly complain.
"Large print isn't a bad thing, my eyes are going and I can't afford new glasses now", I replied.
It was in perfect shape. Even the book jacket was perfectly intact. I flipped through pages again looking for pencil or pen marks, dog ears, or even a crease in the binding to show it had been left open face down. There was nothing wrong with it.
"There is not a mark on it, darlin'. It's like brand new!"
Then I peeled back the jacket cover. Yup, there it was. The name of the last person that owned it.
I read the name out loud.
Darlene came over quickly and looked – and she grabbed the book away from me.
"Oh my God!", she exclaimed. "Do you remember me saying that someone from my Dad's legion passed away a couple of days ago?"
"This is his book!".
"That's what happens when you live in a small town darlin'!", I replied.
I took the new treasure of a gift and sat down promptly on the couch and started reading the introduction. It was full of the same old Grizzard wit. And I got lost in the pages while my lovely wife called her Mom and Dad to tell them of the freaky incident, and to try to draw some crazy half-baked omen out of the one-in- a-couple-thousand coincidence of circumstance.
When supper was ready, I laid the book down on the couch and went to the table to help set up the girls for dinner. Ashley-Rae – who is the sweetest little blond seven year old in the world – picked my book up and started reading – at a seven year olds pace. She caught my attention with the question …
"Daddy, is Bugs Bunny really gay?"
I looked at little Ashley-Rae, and took the book from her. Grizzard was recounting what he claimed to be all the lies he ever wrote as a newspaper columnist. One of them was that Bugs Bunny was gay.
I laughed. And I didn't answer the question.
How many times do you remember Bugs dressing up in women's clothes to fool Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam? A lot. Lipstick and all.
And he "wasn't a bad looking dame" either.
"Yes, Ashley-Rae – Bugs is a very happy bunny".
After supper, I picked the book up again. And on the cover were two price stickers. The oldest one said $3.00. The newer one overlapping it said $1.00.
What a crime. What a shame, I thought to myself. Don't these people know what gold this book contains?
Then I thought again. What a bargain.
I went into the kitchen with the book, and gave Darlene a kiss on the cheek.
"You realize of course that you could have hidden this book from me and wrapped it up as a Christmas present, and it would have been easily one of my favorite – if not my favorite – present of the year, right?"
"Crap." Said my lovely wife Darlene. "I didn't think of that!"
"For the mere cost of a measly dollar, you could have tossed away my whole Christmas wish-list and simply bought me this book." I said to rub it in.
And I haven't seen that damned book since.