How To Get Your Books Back
I was just thinking about a book that I lent a few years ago and never got back, and how annoyed I am about that, and with the girl who still has it. The book was Julian Jaynes's On The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind. She gave me lots of reassurance about how I would surely get it back from her. She lied through her lying teeth.
I feel like somewhat of a sucker, and I have a very long memory when it comes to my books.
There are a lot more of my books in circulation among the amoral gang of scoundrels who call themselves my friends. They can rest assured that I remember each and every single one of the gaping holes in my bookshelf, the same way you feel a gap in your teeth with your tongue and can't stop rubbing it. I intend to stop this plague of passive-aggressive book thievery and loose morals once and for all.
Thinking about this...
Since this keeps happening, and I'm too kindhearted to refuse to lend a book earnestly requested, maybe I'll ask for a twenty dollar bill. Cash money, baby. It's a small enough amount that I imagine most anyone has a spare twenty on them. It's enough money that the person will want it back. I'll cut it in half, and keep half. Upon return of my book, I'll give back the other half of the bill.
A couple of the other ideas I'm thinking of are not for the book lover with a delicate constitution. I am going to suggest a couple of measures that permanently mar your book's immaculate physical condition.
I'm not a gentle reader. I draw in and on my books, write marginalia, fold over the corner of a page if all my other bookmarks are in use, tear off the hardcover if the book's too heavy to carry around, and so on.
So I don't mind mutilating the book to save it, but I understand some of you are prissy Victorian readers who are terrified of the slightest crease in your book's spine, because who knows what happen next! Dancing might break out in mixed company!
So, Polly Prissypants, if you're already feeling queasy and your stomach is churning or you're threatening to faint, you may wish to skip the next two paragraphs, or print this out and cut them out. Here are some handy scissor marks:
Maybe I could draw porno doodles in the empty space at the start of every chapter in my books as I read them. Then the book would be too embarrassing to keep in their house and they would be eager to return it after reading it. The less attractive my books are as a target for so-called "borrowers", the better. I'll start looking at my lewd creations as old familiar friends, horny gargoyle guardians of my library, when I reread my books.
Or I could resort to Fermat's Last Trick In The Book, and leave intriguing marginalia at the end. For example:
"I have something truly marvelous to tell you, but this margin is too narrow to contain it. I'll tell you when you give my book back you THIEF! ♥, evariste"
That gives me a problem though, which is how do I come up with something truly marvelous to tell them when they ask, "what was the truly marvelous thing you wanted to tell me?"
"I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to GEICO" works approximately once. "I forgot" is a letdown, as is "I lied". "Jesus gave his life to wash away your sins" is likely to get a "so the fuck what?" in my Blue state. "You're good enough, you're smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you" is cheesy. Farting in response only makes guys laugh, and I can't reliably summon farts like some talented people. I'm so jealous of them.
I could even tear out the last few pages when they borrow the book, and let them read them in my presence when they return it.
OOPS SORRY I MEANT CUT HERE. I SURE HOPE YOU DIDN'T READ THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH WHERE I EXPLAINED HOW YOU CAN RIP THE ENDING OUT OF YOUR BOOK AS AN INCENTIVE
I could buy from eBay, and conspicuously display, an assortment of voodoo priest accessories. I bet there's all kinds of voodoo priests selling their stuff on eBay thanks to Katrina, so I'd be helping the victims of Katrina at the same time.
Then if someone wants to borrow a book, I'll pull out my trusty voodoo scissors and snip off a lock of their hair. Then I would write their name on a special voodoo kleenex or voodoo plastic sandwich baggie in front of them, and roll the lock of hair in it, and put the whole thing in the neck of a voodoo bottle. When they give back the book, they can have their hair back. I need to Google voodoology and make sure that this would be a realistic fake voodoo blackmail procedure.
I could also demand a naked photo.
I would hand them a Polaroid camera and send them into a tiny closet with nothing but floor to ceiling, wall to wall mirrors in it. Then I would accept all their articles of clothing one by one as they disrobed, to make sure it's really a naked picture. An envelope slipped under the door, they lick and seal it and slip it back, then I hand back the clothes.
Then, I write the date they promise to return it on the envelope, put the envelope next to the book, and take a Polaroid of the two. The book, the date it needs to be back, both in a convenient Polaroid which I'll slip in the book. They can use it as a handy bookmark!
If my book isn't back by the date, I open the envelope. The envelope goes in the trash. The picture goes on the internet, on my mildly popular blog.
Although I'm sure it will become more than *mildly* popular once the naked pictures start going up on my Internet Wall of Shaming You Goddamn Deadbeats.
If the criminal is a girl, I may also use the picture as a visualization aid while I perform a private ritual of which I'm very fond. Every time I perform the ritual, I'll simply increment a plain numeric counter underneath her picture. Her imagination and feminine modesty will do the heavy lifting for me, and I'm sure the book will be back safe and sound before too long.
Especially attractive ladies' counters will probably increment more than once a day.
Now, this one has a drawback. Your deadbeat may already be an amateur porn star. In this day and age of easy personal web publishing tools and a camcorder in every pot, on every desk, in every home, running Microsoft software, I can personally vouch that there is a wide assortment of amateur content on the web of an extremely personal nature, often involving barnyard animals.
As an editorial remark, much of this amateur content is of high quality.
To make sure that your future deadbeat (and don't kid yourself, they're all deadbeats) isn't already a famous naked internet celebrity person, you'll need to do extensive amounts of research by visiting so-called "porno sites".
I recommend that you do not shirk this tiresome chore.
As an incentive for yourself, you may wish to explore enjoyable private rituals of your own and perform them while you are researching. One hallmark of the so-called "new economy" is the mixing of work and play, and multitasking is considered a highly valued skill in this attention-starved, information-glutted working world.
However, I have discovered through bitter experience that employers do not seem to prioritize applicants who make a point of highlighting for their attention this form of practical work experience, so you may wish to leave it off your resumé, unless you use bland terms like "good multitasker" and "enjoys research, and discovering practical applications for data".
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