I remember each and every book I ever misplaced, left behind , just plain lost. There haven’t been that many of them, because losing a book when in the middle, or even finished, is a major trauma for an avid reader. And I like to avoid that kind of pain. Back in the early 80s, I was at the Carnegie Hall movie theatre. I carried a book everywhere in NY, time stands still a great deal there-on the subway; in line for a movie, concert, play; at a supermarket checkout; in a cab if one can stand the motion sickness of a weaving vehicle; on an elevator to the 20th floor; waiting for an over extended doctor who doesn’t take appointments–first come first serve–average wait time-6 hours; or waiting for the chronically late friend at a coffee shop. After seeing whatever popular film at the time, I was walking down Broadway when I realized, no book! I rushed back, was allowed to look for it, but no luck, someone had taken it. I was peeved. I had only just started Rose’s Last Summer by Margaret Millar, and felt cheated.
I finished the book last fall. A small time lapse between the two. I suppose it galled me to have to buy another copy of a book I had spent good bucks on only to lose it to some movie going bum!
I have the same feeling now. I had taken two paperbacks of Reginald Hill with me on a trip to Hyde Park with my sister in law and her two fab girls. I’m in the middle of a Hill fest, I can’t get enough of his Dalziel and Pascoe British detective series. I’m jumping around within the order of titles, but for once, that’s OK with me-I’ll take any one I can get my grubby hands on, especially if used. And good thing I carried them in my bag along with all the other necessary overnight things, because on the train to meet up with my family, it stopped at Princeton Junction, and did not move. For over 2 hours. When I relayed this problem to my husband via cellphone, he responded, “So? You have a book!”
And I read it while waiting for explanations from the powers that be as to what was preventing us from traveling on. Finally, on instructions from my sister in law, I removed myself, my bag, and the detectives, from the immobile train and waited for her to drive down to me, to then drive us back up. And so while in the ladies room line; sitting around the ticket office; and downstairs on the street, I continued to read.
Thankfully, the rest of the day went swell, and only before sleeping did I re-acquaint myself with the plot and murderous goings on.
Returning also by train, I read more chapters until docking, as it were, in Trenton, where I had to race from one train platform to an entirely different one outside and across the street. And here’s where I failed in my vigilance. I thought I had stuffed the paperback down far enough in my over crowded bag after removing it from a ripped paper one filled with small souvenirs such as a bookmark with pictures of all the presidents in order, and a superb finger puppet of a fur clad Eleanor Roosevelt. Panting after successfully punching my ticket and grabbing an available seat, unfortunately facing backward, I scrounged through my bag, carelessly at first, then a bit more seriously, and finally frantically, unable to retrieve the book. The kid next to me on his cell, fervently recounting his exploits as a pitcher even though losing the game, was in my way of ducking below my seat to check if it had slipped out when I took my bag from the chair he needed to sit on. Finally, upon his cell dying, I was able to at least ask if he saw a book. Naturally he gave me the blank look most teenagers do when faced with a question, any question, then finally settled on the word no. Not trusting him, I pushed my heels back and around the area of my chair, they touched nothing, and I had to sadly conclude it dislodged sometime during my loping trot up the escalator, through the slippery halls, across concrete and street, dodging moving cars, and speeding myself into a run when spotting my train ready to zip off any second.
I was mad mad mad. I hadn’t much further to read until finished. I was at the intriguing section of, “Could it be him” and “is the vicar’s wife going to throw herself off the church tower,” and is Dalziel really playing God in the town pageant? Unless I spill out more dough to acquire a new copy, I’ll never know! Ugh!!
When in this situation, one can brood; mutter to oneself; retrace steps in useless speculation as to the exact spot it was lost; or pull out the backup book, the other Reginald Hill still under socks, shirts, and toiletries. I did all of these things, ending on beginning the new title.
So, what can we learn from my unfortunate tale? Make sure your stuffing technique is better than mine? Try to fine tune your hearing to the sound of plopping paperbacks? Have one hand on the book at all times, even if running and carrying a heavy load with the other one? Don’t take a book on a trip, period? Or, is it, always have a back up plan if the original is destroyed?
The latter one is my lesson. I had a book at the ready if the first wasn’t very good; if I left it at the hotel; at a restaurant; if it slipped out of my sister in law’s car; or I lost it between two tracks. Which is what happened, sigh.
So long as I have A book, even if not the one I started with, all is better, if not perfect. I’m still mulling over what the characters are doing while I’m away from them.
Added bonus, I figured out a way to read the rest of the lost book without a penny spent–what are those plush chairs at B&N for, anyway??