It’s December 1989 and I’m sitting on my youngest son’s bed, getting ready to read The Polar Express to him before he goes to sleep. It’s a ritual we both enjoy. Before I start reading, each of us in turn presses our faces into the “V” made by the open book and take a deep breath. The smell is of paper and ink, a wonderful, bookish aroma. These days I take out The Polar Express for us to read every Christmas and it still retains its wonderful smell.
But this story is about my new love. I first noticed Kindle (hereinafter referred to as “him”) in 2007 on a five-hour flight; he was sitting across the aisle, balanced on the lap of a pretty woman. He was small, gray and unimpressive. I looked with pity on his seatmate; she had to squint to get a good look at him. I guess she couldn’t do any better.
Time passed. My husband and I began to travel long, long distances: Patagonia, the Galapagos, Botswana. These journeys were all at least three weeks long and meant packing many books so I wouldn’t run out mid-trip. More books meant heavier luggage, suitcases that exceeded maximum weights.
I refused to recognize all the reasons I should learn to love him and developed a coping system. I chose only small paperbacks for travel and I jettisoned them when I finished the books. This arrangement had its drawbacks. I found that size does matter and I didn’t necessarily like lightweight books. Also, when I truly loved a story, I didn’t want to leave it behind in some lonely hotel room. I began to have lustful thoughts about the little fella across the aisle—by now I had sat across from him on many flights. I stole glances at him and admired the compact, thoughtful way he kept to himself.
The last straw was when my 87-year-old mother, a woman so set in her ways that she wouldn’t give up AOL no matter how often she was ridiculed, bought herself a Kindle and couldn’t stop singing the praises of e-books. When I finally surrendered, I took things slowly. I started with what I already knew how to do: check him out on-line. Soon I began to explore newfound possibilities. I cruised Amazon’s Kindle store, turning my back on my former, inexperienced self. It was a garden of delights.
I asked Mom if she was interested in a threesome: the two of us on one Kindle account. First, everything went well. We shared a love of mysteries and politics, both of them available as e-books in the thousands. Soon I couldn’t remember who did what. I was brought up short, however, when my baffled mother marveled that Fifty Shades of Grey had turned up on her Kindle. It was time to split up. Now, I am proclaiming my love for a more muscular version—he’s on my iPad. True, he doesn’t have the texture and aroma of my first love, the printed book, but I can prop him up in my bed, he gets turned on in the middle of the night, and he doesn’t take long to recharge.
And in case you missed it, my novel, Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is available at Amazon and barnesandnoble.com for $14 (paper) and $2.99 (e-book).