In times of crisis, I get out my reference books. There’s always something I want to look up.
The problem is, I use them a great deal. Last week the binding of my Greek dictionary snapped when I was desperately looking up an archaic form of an irregular verb. The roughness with which I attacked the pages knocked the cover right off. And that, I thought, is why I’d better ditch Sophocles’s Philoctetes for The Odyssey–though I did find the weird verbs, so I should stick to Philoctetes, more appropriate for our time. (Epic is simpler than tragedy: I am reviving my Greek in honor of coronavirus lockdown. It’s been five years… )
I asked Mr. Nemo, “Can you tape this back on?”
“There’s nothing to tape it to.”
“Bummer,” I said. I like to use old slang I thought silly when it was current. I started using it recently–a response to Covid-19, I suppose. I am often “freaked out,” everything is a “bummer,” and I am “into” Tylenol and vitamins. If it weren’t for lockdown, you’d think you were in a novella where everyone wore platform shoes, read Vonnegut, and listened to Frank Zappa.
Mr. Nemo got out the super glue, which is a good temporary fix. At our house, we have trouble keeping the covers on our reference books and, for some reason, poetry books. Part of the problem may be that I carry them in shopping bags from room to room.
The books began to lose their covers in the 1990s, when our most charming cat clawed off the cover of a Webster’s (English) dictionary. She was so sweet we couldn’t be mad. The covers of our Greek and Latin grammars fell apart on their own; they are bound with scotch tape. An old edition of Wheelock is held together with duct tape.
This is not a serious problem, of course. The pandemic is a serious problem–people are sick, people are dying.
I’m lucky to have reference books. Who knows when the libraries will open?
Some days are better than others. Hope you’re keeping well.