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Book Report: Jitterbug Perfume

Because I am working only part-time, I only have one half-hour lunch break a week; my other shifts are short enough to avoid the meal break. For only half an hour a week, YHB does not keep a book at the desk. But I don’t remember to bring in a book I’m in the middle of reading, either. So come my lunch break, I find myself in a library without a book. The result, of course, is that I begin a new book. Sometimes (Hitchcock’s Romantic Irony by Richard Allen or Starbucked by Taylor Clark) the book doesn’t get past that half-hour, and back it goes on the shelf. Sometimes the book comes home with me. That is why my library bookshelf groans under the weight of Too Many Books. Seventeen at present. But I can renew them to myself.

Anyway, one strategy for not bringing home another book is to grab a book I’ve read before, perhaps one I’ve read more than once, figuring I will slip it back onto the shelf after half an hour, either satisfied with my little taste, or prepared to pick it up again next week for another half hour. This does not work. After the lunch break, I set the book on my desk, thinking I will reshelve it when I’m up, but at the end of the day, I’ve checked it out to myself and slipped it into my satchel. This is what happened with Jitterbug Perfume. And having started it, and brought it home, I finished it, leaving the seventeen books on my shelf to sit on my shelf for just a little bit longer. But I brought it back to the library, so that’s all right.

As for the book, well, I am too old and too much of a stick-in-the-mud to read Tom Robbins these days without being aware that it is me that he is mocking. It always was, of course. I was never that free-spirited, never that shamanic, never that joyful. Never that obnoxious or self-centered, either, I hope, although I surely tried. These days, I am plumbing the depths of joy afforded by a happy marriage, lovely children, a mother-in-law, a mortgage, a job (part-time), and various other aspects of being the responsible adult so powerfully mocked by Mr. Robbins.

Very deep, those joys. Still stretching down. Wouldn’t be surprised if there was no bottom at all.

Not to knock those Tom Robbins heroes with feather-light hearts. Neither portion is a mess of pottage; people remain different one to another. And I can enjoy the wild prose and the exhilarating exhortations. But I’m watching through a window, from outside. Or more likely from inside. Which is where I belong.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,