The Queen of Everything Slays the King of Leisure

OK. Florence. I love Florence. She’s genius-smart (if B gets any genes, getting Florence and Rebecca’s would do her just very well, thanks) and was onto my sorry act from the beginning. I respect that. She knows more about me than I do. We’re checkmated though since I know more about her than she does. She knows that too. So, yeah, we’re cool.

So, to make this story short, She was watching – over the weekend – when I was oohing and awing over Henry’s box of old letters and his old school Nikon lenses. She saw all that. She shot me the look of too-easily-impressed pity and I didn’t even realize it.

When I was looking for a book to read and had the nerve to poo-poo some of the titles around her house (she, my friends, is a serious reader in terms of quality and quantity, gets it from her father, the good Judge Brennan) all making fun and such, she finally after eleven years, whipped out her can of nuclear. She finally decided to blow my head. And she did.

She says, “Huh! You don’t like any of my books, I see?” and she opens a cabinet in the built-in bookshelf. She pulls out a white plastic bag and sets it on my lap. “Take a look at this,” she says without irony, excitement, or malice. A white plastic bag….

I’m thinking, oh, maybe some old photo album. Maybe the family bible. I pull a book out of the bag. It’s obviously an old book and it’s kind of falling apart. I smells old. It’s heavy to the touch. It feels like no book I’ve ever held. Wow, maybe it’s the oldest book I’ve ever seen. I’m confused.

I open it up and it and it’s a book of poems…old English…Milton…1692?! Holy shit! [sound, smell, sight of head exploding]. I’m holding an original John Milton fifth edition, fully illustrated book of poems published in 1692.

I look at her and she shrugs. She shrugs! Like, hey you like old stuff, junior? There you have it. Makes those lenses look pretty new, huh?

So, there I was gingerly paging through a 315-year-old book. Three hundred year old crap getting on my shorts (she shrugged). I’m sure a rare book expert would kill me for even touching it with my bare hands. But, I had to feel the words, the illustrations, and the leather. I had to soak it in.

Then to add insult to absolute injury, she goes, “oh, these are a little old too” and pulls out the two volume set of John Gay fables, “Fables by John Gay: with a life of the author.” Uh, 214-years-old (publication date: 1793).

Keep in mind, these are original editions.

I was floored! What next, the Magna Carta? The teeth of Jesus in a Mason jar?

Oh, that Flos! She blows my head. Does it with absolute style and does it as casually as swatting a fly.