I don’t like to throw things away. If something can be used, I tend to hold on to it in case I might need it someday. I get this from my grandmother. Once, I had occasion to go through some of her books, and I came across a textbook my dad used in high school that actually had a bullet hole through the middle of it. And maybe the book had it coming, who am I to say? But even though I hate to throw out anything—and that is especially true of books—I was pretty sure that one could be retired.
A little over a year ago, I bought an audio book that….let’s say it didn’t turn out to be what I expected. I thought it was going to be a thoughtful look at gender roles in hip-hop culture. I had seen the author doing interviews about the way women volunteer to be exploited in videos and the competition for spots drives women to go further in hopes that it will get them a more prominent role. She made some interesting points, and I was curious to hear what else she had to say about the power dynamics in hip-hop and the ways that women may or may not fit into the culture. And that is why I bought the audio version of Confessions of a Video Vixen.
Now, if I’d read the back of the box a bit more closely, I might have figured out that the book was a tell-all about what it’s like to be a professional girlfriend and occasional video star. Not only was the writing terrible, but if I remember correctly, the timeline was sometimes ambiguous to cover the fact that she was dating one superstar while sleeping with another whenever he’s in town and not with his wife. The interesting thing about an audio book, is that it adds a new dimension to the text, which, in this case, opened up new avenues for crappiness. The author read the book herself, and she is a big fan of the dramatic pause. Sometimes at the end of…a sentence. Sometimes…in the middle of one. Like she’s a beat poet or something.
It’s a personal quirk that I rarely quit reading a book before I’ve finished no matter how much I dislike it. I finished the book, but then I didn’t know what to do with it. I tried to sell it, but it turns out that no one else is as dumb as me. It ended up sitting on my desk at work until Tina told me that every time she saw the cover, she thought it was porn. That was when it moved to the console in my car, where it stayed. I didn’t like the book—which I guess by now is no secret—but I couldn’t toss it. As odd as it may sound, I wanted it to have a good home. Maybe someone would want it?
Then, last week, I saw my co-worker Sherry going through some stuff that people donated to the library. It was an odd lot and contained blank VHS cassettes and old 5 ¼” floppy disks, which I last saw when I was about 8 years old. I had no idea what we would do with them, but if there was something that could be done, we’d probably pursue it. Which was pretty much the attitude I was looking for in a “good home.” I told Sherry I had a book for her, and today I brought it in. I slid it across the counter and said I wanted to donate it. I had described the book a little bit when the idea first came to me in the event that it was too tacky for the library. Sherry had seemed nonplussed, but this afternoon, when she flipped it over and read the back, she still let out a mildly surprised, “Oh!”
Suddenly, I was embarrassed. I started to backtrack. “I mean, could you use this? Really? Because I don’t know what to do with it.”
Sherry offered to take it to the director and see what she suggested, but I didn’t want to bother my ultimate boss with whether or not she’d like to take this particular book off my hands. It was mildly embarrassing to own it, but it started to occur to me that I was trying so hard not to throw it out that I was being a jerk in a different way. In my attempt to avoid tossing out a book, I was trying to slip it to someone—anyone—even though they might not want it and probably wouldn’t like it. It’s kind of like I’m saying: “Look, I can’t recommend this book. I thought it was horrible to be frank, but maybe you have really bad taste!”
I told Sherry I’d changed my mind, and now it has found its way into my apartment. I’m still not sure what I’ll do with it. Maybe I’ll use the CDs as coasters or as an art project. Maybe I’ll find a good home for them, and maybe I’ll decide that—much like my dad’s bullet riddled textbook—it’s served it’s purpose.