Sunday, June 15, 2008

Remember the Bickersons? Probably before your time. Mine too, actually. But my mother had recordings of the world’s most argumentative couple, voiced by Don Ameche and Frances Langford, and I loved listening to their witty repartee.
Unfortunately, after 38 years of marriage, my husband and I have become the Bickersons. At least when we’re in the car.We recently took a road trip to Los Angeles. Why, in this day and age, would we drive to the land of “swimmin’ pools and movie stars” when we could fly for less than the current price of a tank of gas and arrive in less than two hours? Books. That’s why.
We had passes to the annual Book Expo Show, where hundreds of publishers give out their future best-selling tomes to anyone with an outreached hand. Unlike a pharmaceutical expo where you get free notepads and pens with drug logos, or computer shows where you end up filling your plastic Mac bag with free mouse pads and geek shirts, at Book Expo, you get books. Mystery books. Picture books. Biographical books. Comic books. Literary books. Reference books. Most importantly: Free books.
Unfortunately, in order to haul nearly a zillion pounds of heavy books back home, we had to take our gas-guzzling VW camper and drive the long and winding road. We were barely out of the driveway before we turned into the Bickersons. No subject was too small to argue about—where to stop for gas, what to eat for dinner, when to change drivers, why we didn’t fly.
Luckily, bickering helps the time fly by, and we found ourselves in freeway-congested LA in less than six hours. After bickering about what time to head for the convention center, we joined the “feeding frenzy” of other book lovers when the doors opened at 9:00 am. By 9:15 we’d filled four book bags each. By the time the show closed, we’d managed to score over 200 books, including such coveted titles as Too Many Toys (a cautionary tale for kids), Don’ts for Husbands (hope it include a chapter on bickering), Staging Your Comeback (I could use “The Complete Beauty Revival for Women After 45”), I Heart Geeks (who doesn’t?), The Dorm Room Diet Planner (too late?), Cornbread Nation (hopefully a cookbook) and Know Your Bowels (no comment), with the occasional Anita Shreve and James Patterson thrown in. And that didn’t include the non-book freebies—a lip balm, squeeze ball, beanie, and romance novel cover model calendar.
Only a book fanatic would have done what we did—drive to LA and pick up pounds of books we’d never heard of—all for a car-full of printed paper. We’ll never be able to read all of these books, let alone give them away to our friends—we don’t have that many friends. We could have saved a lot of money—and bickering—if we’d skipped the trip and just bought the books we really wanted at the local bookstore.
But there’s something about Book Expo that even mellows the Bickersons. When you end up with billions of books to read, like Zombie CSU (Forensics for the Living Dead), The Official Filthy Rich Handbook (How the other .0001% live), and Find Your Inner Ugly Betty (Career Lessons Inspired by TV Shows), who’s got time to bicker?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely understand!! You are not weird, and you are certainly not alone. If I lived near a Book Expo, I'd drive there for the freebies. As you say, it's almost like having a whole bunch of pharmaceutical reps with not only the product (books) but accessories (lip balm, magnifying glasses, handcuffs, things like that). It's the only place you can talk about murder where no one calls the police! (unless you're the Bickersons)

June 18, 2008 at 9:22 AM  

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