In keeping with Monday’s column, I would like to say a word about a lump of other autumnal holidays, or at least their aroma. Once upon a time in October, if there wasn’t a Homecoming bonfire, there was at least smoke from leaf-burning in backyards. That’s largely a thing of the past, of course. Outdoor burning of leaves is against the rules just about everywhere. This happened at about the same time people who smoke were ordered to go outdoors to do it, but I am not going to question the goodness of the law. (Insert your own joke about “smoke and mirrors” here.)
However, if you were thinking of dropping off books in this “Please Try Not To Drop off Books” month, I would ask you to avoid the morning of October 30. That’s the day the Newberry staff is being given the opportunity to learn how to use a fire extinguisher. This training will be going on just where you would pull up to drop off books. The appeal of this particular spot is that we have a drain there, where we get rid of rainwater, snowmelt, and the remains of people who dropped off books and said “Can I have my boxes back?”
There will be a bit of burning going on as part of the job. No, we do NOT want you dropping by with loads of books on politics at that time. I appreciate the thought, but we’re going to be putting the fire OUT. Waste of your time and effort.
I do understand: we have apparently just kicked into high gear on campaign commercials, which is enough to make anybody want to get anything touched by a politician out of the house. I get the same sort of people donating their Christmas CDs and records around November 30: they feel they just can’t take any more. But we all just have to ride out the wave, and then you’ll see: those books and records won’t seem nearly so scary.
And the political commercials do at least give you a distraction from all the coverage of the Ebola story. I am planning to make this the only mention of Ebola in this column unless I can think of a punchline to my Ebola joke. (I’ve gotten as far as “Virus the chicken crossing the road?”) One passing expert looked at those African gold dust weights I had donated, and asked “You did wash those so no one catches Ebola from them, right?” I have not checked with other experts on this yet, but I do believe an antique gold dust weight is dangerous to your health only if you try to swallow it.
Anyway, what I started to say was that I hope you’ll tell your friends and neighbors not to deliver any donations on the morning of October 30. We’re having a private little holiday and you’d be in the way. It’s a symbolic little celebration, and with any luck it’ll become an annual tradition, symbolizing how all those burning questions the political ads yell at us are soon to be extinguished.
You’ll have to figure out your own answer to all the Christmas music.