451 F. 

I'm thinking I might want to get in on some of this book-burning business that got everybody so worked up last week.

I've got a lot of books. Too many books.  Piles of them on other piles, like the TV hoarders and their junk. And I've been looking for a decent and honorable way of disposing of some of them.

My garbage man won't take them — they jam up the masher somehow, I'm told — and you can't give the sons-a-bitches away. I tried a couple of the thrift stores, and they acted like I'd offered them some dog leavings or 8-track tapes. You get no sense of closure trying to bury them in the yard. And it risks fire, vermin infestation, and offending the higher powers if you shred them to pet bedding.

You burn American flags, don't you, when the time comes to put them down? And nobody thinks less of you or the flag. So why couldn't I burn some of these books without everybody having a cow?

Yes, one of them is a Koran. Or Quran. Or whatever the current politically correct spelling is. It's a battered copy, the back cover gone, the pages shopworn down to a dusty thinness so that all that continues to hold it together is the 100 million dustmites holding hands. My guess is that it found publication in the Coolidge heyday. I seem to remember having tried perusal of it once or twice, but that's likely comforting self-deception, something I've got pretty good at with long practice.

I'd like to add it to my burn pile, but Petraeus warnings echo and old vague misgivings haul me up, as with the Bibles. Scenes flash of Nazi bonfires. Abu Ghraib becomes my fault, and I'm tabbed for handing the generic national Granny over to an Obamacare death panel.

I could try to unload the Bibles on some homeless people, but here's the deal. Homeless people don't want old ratty Bibles. If they need a Bible, they can get a new one for free from the Giedeons or a shelter or just about any parson in the phone book. They just don't want an old grungy piece-of-crap Bible, knowing it's a discard from some prick who thinks he's better than them. They've already got enough old, grungy, falling-apart stuff in their lives and knapsacks.

And you can't sell them at a yard sale. People at yard sales will buy old ratty Harlequin romances for a dime apiece — or five for a dollar — but they won't buy old ratty Bibles. They'll buy plastic butter tubs for a quarter, but not ratty Bibles. They'll buy burnt-out 60-watt lightbulbs for a nickel. I've seen them do it. You could bend down and dig up tablespoons of yard dirt and sell them for 15 cents, but you can't sell old ratty Bibles.

You might tell me, "Well, heathen, why don't you keep them and read them yourself?" And I see your point but I'm like those homeless guys in that I'd rather do my Bible reading from a nice Bible. I've got at least five Bibles here, and a New Testament with a sandalwood cover that an in-law relative of mine brought home from a Holy Land pilgrimage with the late Dr. Vaught. This is an extry nice New Testament. It's a red-letter version with maps that rival Smith's. It's not autographed by any of the main characters, but there wasn't much autographing in those days.

So I'm talking a classy New Testament, and two of the other four Bibles are fine specimens also. One is a sturdy green-back Broadman King James with companion concordance that Preacher Bob gave me to show his appreciation for my standing in as an emergency pallbearer for a not-so-reputable member of his flock he called "the least of these." The other is an old Family Bible of the 10-pounder type that the Bible peddler used to lug into your parlor and quietly persuade you, without ever saying so, that you and yourn were all Hellbound if you didn't sign up to buy the thing on the installment plan.

That latter one has a Family Records section between the testaments, and Aunt Jenny's vital stats are there — my father's older half-brother's wife — but no mention of her evil stepson having her committed after my uncle died. A way to steal her estate. Easy pickings. Who'd know? Knaves could get by with such knavery then.

Thomas Jefferson sank into dire poverty as an old man and had to sell his famous home library just to feed all the Monticello lurkers. It's said that Congress agreed to buy the books only because the Federalist members relished the prospect of separating out the racy French novels and having them publicly burned.

That gives me to wonder why Marse in his twilight penury couldn't have chased the wolf by knocking off a couple dozen of his own Harlequin paperbacks, or the contemporary equivalent.  He had the knack, if not the style. And subject matter from personal experience to rival Willard Clinton's. A slew of Fabio lookalikes then to pose for cover art. Would've made a much happier ending for him — and we, his heirs, could've said of him, with typical pride: He did what he had to do. 



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