I returned a library book a few weeks ago, but somehow it didn’t get checked back in. I went in to the library to explain this to them. They made a note in the computer, and for now, that’s the end of it. Is there a grace period? Will I eventually have to pay for the book if it never shows up?
I was resigned to pay for it at any rate. It would be a case of delayed justice anyway.
Back in 1970, after 10 months in Vietnam, I got an “early out” for which I had applied, to go back to school. I had already graduated before I got drafted, and it wasn’t exactly clear to me what I was going back to school for. I had a Political Science degree, but politics now left me cold. Politics out of the barrel of a gun and all that. Mao would understand. And where was I going, after having graduated from the University of Florida? The University of Wisconsin at Madison. I had picked it because, Berkeley aside, it was the most radical campus at the time in the country. I was ready for some radical living. The year before, radicals had bombed an ROTC building on campus. I needed to see for myself.
So off I went to get a second degree in my minor: English. Did I want to teach? Not on your life. I just wanted to read. I read all of the works of Shakespeare that year. Paradise Lost too. There was also a Contemporary American lit course. Read I did.
One night though, when a tier gas canister hit me on the back of the head, I figured this was just too weird. Irony can leave a lump on your head. It was time to get real. Join the working class. I packed up all my possessions (such as they were) and got ready to head for Boston. See some old friends. I’d always loved the city anyhow. Fact is, there were several friends there from my days at UF. It was a place I could live.
It was a Sunday, so the library was closed. I had a vinyl of Titus Andronicus checked out and as my last official act, I stopped at the library drop box to return the record. It wouldn’t fit in the slot. Slots are bigger these days, I think.
So I brought Titus A with me to Boston and somehow never got around to returning it. Now overdue by 38 years or so, the fine would outweigh the original cost of the record. Several years ago though, I had sold off all my old vinyl collection (much to my great regret now). Mixed in there somewhere, was the spoken version of Shakespeare’s play.
So I figure that whatever I have to settle (if anything) for the missing Coetzee book, I can think of it as fair repayment for my youthful indiscretion.