Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Youthful Indiscretions

I had a fortunate childhood. Unlike some bookworms who grow up in a family of nonreaders, I was never berated for reading too much. As I’ve said before, my parents valued education and were pleased that I could and did read. There was only one time I got in trouble for it.

When I was a kid I used to sometimes sneak books into the bathroom. I’d never do that now, but when I was a kid it didn’t occur to me that the same book I was reading in the bathroom would also be in my hands while I ate lunch. (Maybe I thought germs just didn’t stick to books.)

I suppose that the attraction of taking a book into the bathroom was that privacy was at such a premium in our family. And you were also out of sight of the adults who were sure to interrupt you by assigning you a chore. But the danger of reading in the bathroom (besides your feet going numb) is that it was so easy to lose track of time. We had a very large family, and in those days the average house didn’t have as many bathrooms as they do now.

So one day I came to the surface to hear my mother pounding on the bathroom door and shouting, “Bibliophagist, have you got a book in there?” Somehow I sensed she would not be pleased that my little brothers and sisters were hopping up and down in the hallway just because I was trying to finish a chapter.

“No, mom!” I replied on the Jesuitical grounds that I no longer actually had the book, having just slid it under the clothes hamper. I skipped out of the bathroom lickity-split intending to retrieve my book later. But I didn’t get around to it before my mother decided to do the laundry and discovered my deception.

She said it was the lie I was being punished for more than the location of my bibliophagic behavior. But she made the punishment fit the accident of the crime. I was forbidden to read for a week!

It was the longest week of my life. I couldn’t read anything except my school assignments. The one brief oasis in that howling wilderness was when my mother asked me to look up something in the encyclopedia for her. A sip of cold water to my parched soul!

I don’t think I ever read a book in the bathroom again.


Jeff Miller said...

Instead of bathroom's my house has one and a half libraries.

Amy said...

In 5th grade, I put off doing a report until the weekend before it was due. I wasn't allowed to read anything unrelated to the report until I was finished. It was sheer torture! You have my sympathies!

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Ah, Amy, I can see you are a kindred spirit!