Sunday, August 9, 2009

Socks Appeal

By the time Phoebe and I reached the park last Sunday morning, our seven book-and-sock encounters had taken on the aura of minor if not yet forgettable fable. At least that was their effect on me. Wiser than I, Phoebe turned her attention, and mine, to the squirrels. Our neighborhood eastern grays rewarded us with more eager interaction than we had elicited earlier from mere bipeds; Phoebe was entertained, and I was saved from disappointment. It was a delightful long walk. And by the time we turned for home, I knew that my passion for books might excuse my pelting leash- and coffee-toting passersby with questions about their personal libraries when they wanted to empty their pets and fill themselves with caffeine. What was inexcusable was the hour; next time I query dog walkers about their book care habits, it will be much later in the day.

That conclusion reached me, as if from another world, just as Phoebe and I reached an intersection and a red light. While we waited to cross, a woman and a terrier joined us. We had met earlier. We greeted each other again. I didn't say a word about books.

We were patting each other's dogs when the woman said, "Tell me again how you dust a book with a sock."

My surprise I suppressed; the fable might yet produce a moral and a convert. So as Phoebe and the terrier nuzzled and wagged, I launched into my dusting speech and pantomime. I slipped an old sock over one hand, pulling a book from a shelf and opening it, holding the text block, wiping the top edge gently and in one direction, careful of a dust jacket's position, and was about to discuss the merits of removing the jacket for thorough cleaning of the book's entire being and what care the jacket might need when the woman gestured to her dog.

"That sounds like the way I brush her. She loves it."

"Books love it, too," I proclaimed. "The cleaner they are, the longer they last." A terrible generality for a Sunday morning on a street corner, but I had an audience, and the dogs were still content with each other's company. We let the traffic light change more than once, and talked more about taking care of books and dogs. The woman confided that bathing her dog had been something she once dreaded; now she looks forward to it. And she does have some books that mean a lot to her, and maybe she should give this idea of dusting them some thought, and maybe even a try. I suggested that it's one of those things that's worse to contemplate than undertake. "Go home and dust two books," I urged.

"Three," she countered, and I think I heard a lovely little flare of defiance. I had underestimated her resolve. We parted, when the dogs permitted, as if we had crossed something more expansive than York Avenue.

Of the other people I accosted last weekend, I can report only that Phoebe and I have seen all six of them and their dogs in the days since, and no one crossed the street when they saw us coming. That's all the encouragement I need to try again.

1 comment:

  1. A friend sent me the link to your blog,Margot because there's not much that I like better than dogs and books. I live with a 13 year old dog that spends a lot of time sleeping under my desk while I read or "compute."

    I do know your trick about putting on a pair of old socks to efficiently dust a pile of books. Can't remember where I learned this. If you're interested in another blog that features dogs and books, I highly recommend Laurie, a St. Paul blogger. Her link is: I'll try to give you a click on link but half the time it doesn't work.

    Three Dog Blog