foiled (again)

My husband is a pack rat and I am a purger. While in some areas of our marriage we've found a happy middle ground, this domestic tension has only intensified over the years, especially when it comes to the thousands of books we collaboratively (John 91%, me 9%) own. One time I even shattered a plate in rage when he brought yet another book into our home. Moving has been torture. When my dad helped us move into a third-floor walk-up he suffered a heatstroke from our bulk of books.

Every now and then I get the urge to sneak a few out of the house. I keep my covert operation within respectful limits--I do not carry off books from his office, for example. But I might snatch a few titles from my bookshelves in the back of the house, a few from Anna's room, and perhaps a few from a dusty corner of a closet that haven't seen that light of day since 1931.

One problem with books is that despite John's great passion for them, charities aren't so enthused. Last time I tried to hawk a few titles at the Salvation Army they turned me away. But last week I had an idea--I would drop a few books in the Powell's give-away box.

I loaded up my car with clutter from Anna's room, household items and some of my old maternity clothes. I also had a few books with me, and I was able to carry them off undetected (score!). I was inwardly cheering at my success, when John sweetly offered to help carry a load to the car. "Oh no, really I'm fine," I said as I staggered to the car, both arms overflowing with stuff, one of Natalie's eyes peeking out from the sling.

When I returned to the house for another load John was waiting for me on the back deck. I was nervous but tried to act cool. "Would you like to take my black cords?" he asked, offering me a pair of pants with a most unfortunately located stain. "That's the spirit, Honey!" I said, as I flung the pants over my forearm. I made it safely down the street to Powell's, double parked and chucked the books in the give-away box as fast as I could. Two days of domestic harmony followed, and I thought I was in the clear.

On Sunday morning, however, John was serving in the altar and I smiled sweetly at him through the royal doors. He did not smile back. During coffee hour he cornered me. "Which of my books did you sell at Powell's?" he asked. "Um," I said, stalling. "Who did you talk to?" He would not reveal his sources. "Now I have to go to Powell's, search their entire inventory and buy back my own books--and how could sell Jacob's book?" His hands were trembling.

My face flushed as I realized that I'd accidentally slipped our friend Jacob's book in with the others. But I still couldn't figure out how John knew. "But John, you don't have to buy back our books. I put them in the giveaway box!" He smiled then, satisfied. "Well, good, then I've already picked them all up!"


John went for a walk the same day I attempted my scheme. Free from my ever-watchful gaze, he decided to court the give-away box at Powells. To his amazement, he found one with Jacob's name in it. He tucked it in with an armload of books that he thought would make a great "addition" to our library. He thought it strange that so many impressive titles were in the give-away box, with irresistible titles like A History of Ancient China, and The Many Faces of Iran. Sunday morning, when he was serving with Jacob in the altar, he turned to him and told him that he'd discovered one of Jacob's books in the give-away box at Powell's. Jacob was equally baffled, as he hadn't been there in years . . .