Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Judging A Book ...
I was so relieved when my friend Belinda said of Deafening, the book picked for the next book club, "The cover is so beautiful." I rushed then to ask what the cover looked like. I had done some investigation into the cost and availability of the book and found that there are two editions, each with a different cover. One was blue, and, frankly, forgettable. The other is a startling design of blood red poppies against a milk white background. Belinda said, "It has the red poppies."
When I went to the book store to buy my copy of the book, I found that all of Itani's books were on shelves down near the floor. These are completely out of reach for me in my power chair. As I am big, the chair is big, as I am tall, the chair is tall. Without a reacher, I need help to get things that close to the ground. A book store clerk was walking by and I called over to her for help. She came willingly and I said that I was wanting a copy of 'Deafening' by Itani. She reached down and grabbed a copy of the book with the blue cover.
By then I'd become enamoured with the other cover, and thinking that I had a right to get what I wanted, I said, "Thanks but I'd prefer the other cover, please." She took the book back quickly - not violently but almost - and slid it with a thump back into place. Then she grabbed the other book and handed it to me, turning immediately to avoid any further conversation. I did call to her receding back, 'Thanks.'
I was appreciative of her help. Really. I didn't think that asking for the copy I wanted was wrong, I didn't think it was that much of a bother to replace one book and pull another. But as I drove up to the counter I began to wonder if I had been over-selective, if it really made a difference to have the one cover, not the other, if I had been an annoying and pushy cripple. As much as I try, when others are mean to me, I always assume I deserve it. I analyze all the ways that I 'set off' or caused the other's attitude or distress.
Every time I picked the book up and admired the cover, it really is pretty, I thought about the anger it caused and wondered if the amount of pleasure I got from the cover was enough to justify the upset it caused. I would sometimes think, maybe even wish, that the clerk - at the same time was wondering if her momentary display of anger was worth the effect it was having on her sense of self.
Anyways, the book is read and has moved from my stack to Joe's. I read in one of her blog posts that Belinda had started the book so I called her. We talked about the book and then she mentioned how beautiful the cover was.
An innocent remark that left me, ultimately, feeling innocent in having made my request