LC Van Savage
List It, Forget It
Do you recall the best seller, ďThe Book of ListsĒ written somewhere in the Ď90s? Was more than one written? I think so. Two people put it (them) together, named David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace.
I just found mine. Occasionally, very occasionally, and reluctantly, very reluctantly I clean out all my old books and donate them to libraries or haul them off to the Good Will or Salvation Army and other places. I know many folks canít part with their books and Iíd love to have them piled all around me forever, but that gets in the way of---well, just about everything, and when those piles begin to tip over and slide, a person could get killed. Me for example, and Iím not ready yet.
So I began to pack up the loads and loads of books to send them to new homes to be read and loved or not read or hated or to be used to prop up slanted tables. For a very long time, I actually never shed my life of books until I went to visit an old friend who took me upstairs into her huge attic to show me where her father had collected and stored his books all of his life. The floors were seriously buckled, the wall to wall shelves, although now empty, sagged into big cracking Uís. The whole area was weird and scary and obviously dangerous. My pal advised me that her father had collected so many thousands of books and stacked them in that great big walk-around attic that the entire top of their home was in great danger of collapsing down on the heads of those on the floors below. So thatís why I donít save books. My entire house is in danger of collapsing just from my hoarding all my important and valuable stuff, so I therefore give all my old books new homes.
Except this one. The amazing and fascinating ďThe Book of Lists.Ē I hauled that out of the pile and piled it onto another pile next to my chair which is quite often piled with piles of other piles. Oh, what an interesting book it is indeed.
I have a relative who lives for lists, cannot function without several of them all over the house, leaves them written out on legal sized pads, single spaced, outside of her sleeping childrenís rooms for their morning roster of chores. Ditto her husband. You can imagine what the word ďlistĒ does to that group. Talk about rage! She also carries huge long single-spaced lists in her purse at all times, long as a full roll of toilet paper and they unroll just like toilet paper when she pulls them up and out in order to check something or to read aloud from them, which is quite often a rather lengthy catalogue of my shortcomings, which she recites aloud to me. She is so unable to pass a single hour without referring to her lists from hell that Iíve promised her if she dies before I do, Iím installing a tombstone over her final resting, carved in the shape of a clip-board, so as she was in life, she will not be without one for a single instant of eternity.
Want to know a few of the lists Mr. Wallechinsky and Ms. Amy Wallace included? Well, one of them is a list of 6 famous couples married 6 weeks or less. I wonít list them all because I fear Iím the only one alive who remembers those people. But a wonderful actress from the old days, Jean Arthur was married to Julian Anker for one full day. One! I mean come on! They didnít even get to experience their first real marital brawl. And of course thereís Britney whatís her face the Flasher who was married for about 2 hours, right? Perhaps she tops that list.
Another fascinating list and this one is long Iíll give just a few tidbits, was a list compiled of TV show pilots that didnít make it. Some samples; ďDanger TeamĒóthe adventures of a female private eye who solves crimes with the help of three animated clay figures. Or, ďK-9000Ē a wise guy cop is telepathically linked to his talking bionic police dog that also doubles as a cell phone. And another dog-themed doomed TV pilot, my all-time favorite is: ďPoochinskiĒ Ė An ill mannered cop is gunned down in the line of duty and is reincarnated as a crime fighting, flatulent Old English sheepdog. Now thereís a genuine keeper. How come it failed? Really! I mean great art is great art, right?
Another interesting list from that book is an inventory of unusual things people have collected. One is celebrity hair. Well now, thatís not so crazy, considering todayís clone thing. Maybe one day we could take a few strands of a great personís hair and get those folks back here again. Lincoln, Schweitzer, Eleanor R., Mel Torme, etc. Barbed wire; very big in the collectorís world. There are nearly 2000 known varieties. Who knew? Another is Body Parts of Noted Persons. OK, gag me. First of all, where do people get those? And why? Hitlerís teeth. Napoleonís----never mind, you donít want to know.
The book lists twenty famous sports figures who wore glasses, in case youíve had insomnia over that one. Twelve jocks whoíve had asthma. Twelve ignored baseball rules. Ten strange events. (Only ten?) They include a guy who played chess with a dead man. And lost. The well shod Imelda Marcus who in 1992 claimed her dead husband Ferdinandís spirit caused Hurricane Andrew. Talk about your basic hubris. A judge in California who ordered heavy rains to stop, and they did. A drought ensued, so he ordered the rains to start again. And they did. Youíre surprised? Hey, it was California.
Nations with the most neighbors; China wins. Poloniusí ten pieces of advice to Laertes via William Shakespeare. (I already had them memorized,) but we all know his tenth one: To thine own self be true/and it must follow, as the night the day/Thou canst not then be false to any man.
On that note, Iíll end. Make a list of great books to read and include this one. Itís a hoot.
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