After the Fact: Outer space


Sometime in the next millennia, sentient beings in a distant galaxy will “discover” a very small planet weaving erratically through space, headed to no-place in particular, with no discernable reason for being where it is.

Upon closer examination, they’ll pop the top off and peer inside. “Well, no wonder! The poor little thing has dead batteries.” Hundreds of thousands of AA, AAA and 9 volt batteries, all defunct.

I woke up in the middle of the night (a frequent occurrence) and sat up to turn on the small television set that’s in my bedroom. Nothing happened. After a few more pokes at the buttons on the remote control, I concluded that the batteries had expired. While I wasn’t enthusiastic about going in search of new batteries, I was awake anyway. After looking in all the usual places where we keep packages of new AA batteries (which I buy by the case, it seems) and finding none, I gave up and started to read a new book.  Which was a colossal mistake.

An hour or so later, I finally put the book down. When I turn the television on in the middle of the night, I can fall asleep in minutes, regardless the programming. This never happens with a book. There are no batteries to be replaced in a REAL book, either, and I can “re-play” any chapter over and over. While I still cannot bring myself to write in a book or to dog-ear pages in a hard-back copy, almost any scrap of paper will serve as a bookmark. I’ve lost many important reminders between pages of a book “in progress.”  Those little cards they give you in the doctor’s office that tell you about your next appointment make dandy bookmarks in the book you’ve taken to while away time while waiting to see him (or her). Maybe that’s why my doctors’ office staff will call to remind me the day before an appointment.

Having a “Kindle” seems to defeat the reason for reading a book: if you’re going to resort to electronic media, why not go directly to books on tape where someone else will read the story and you have only to listen. 

I tried the books on tape a while ago. I’d leave Monte Vista, pop in a cassette tape somewhere between Alamosa and Antonito, and be completely lost before I got to Tres Piedras. I finally had to give up listening to books when I got lost in San Luis, two blocks away from the parish hall where the senior citizens were having lunch. I gave up and went to La Rosa Mystica instead.

It still perplexes me when people ask “Really? You READ the book?” when they’re in the middle of telling you about a new movie they’ve just seen. It’s almost as though they think the movie came before the book and not vice-versa. I don’t think that happens very often, if ever. 

There are some books I will never read and will undoubtedly never see the movie, either, like “50 Shades of Gray.” There are books I will never read that will probably not be made into a movie, like the latest star-studded or political autobiographies. And there are books even the Carnegie Library won’t put on their shelves. 

It used to be a major accomplishment to become a published author and an even greater honor to be recognized by the Pulitzer committee. In today’s society, I think you’d gain more recognition and make a lot more money if you could figure out how to resuscitate all those dead batteries that litter our planet.

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