Sunday, May 22, 2005

Back in the Day...

Back when I was but a lad, I used to do a lot of reading. I bet almost one in three books I read had something in common. I would be reading along when suddenly I would spot a message written in the margins.

"Turn to page 49."

My heart would skip a beat. Somebody was trying to send me a secret message. It was too important to write on page 8, so they had to send me to page 49 to read it. Maybe somebody was in trouble! Maybe they needed help!

I would flip to page 49, only to find a message that said, "go to page 36". Ahhh, the message was of such importance that they needed to weed out all the little kids who didn't have the patience to turn to multiple pages, or were not smart enough to follow directions.

Flipping to page 36, I would find a message pointing me to page 118, then to page 93, then to page 25. Faster and faster I would flip, following the directions closely.

Finally, I would reach the last page in the thread. There, in the margins, rather than sending me to another page, was the message.

"You are a dunder head."

The final message wasn't always mean. Sometimes it said simply, "Good job", or "I like butter".

Regardless of the message, I always followed the trail. It was detective work without all of the hassle of research, heavy thinking, or getting up out of your chair.

I haven't seen a message like this in a book for years and years and years. I don't know if kids just don't do it anymore, or maybe it's because people who read the books I'm currently reading (game theory, instructional technology, etc,) just don't have any imagination.

When I was little I didn't dare write in books. I was convinced that desecrating a library book was a one-way, express ticket to hell.

Maybe I'll have to pick up Von Neumann's classic book on game theory and economic behavior, and set up a trail of pages for the next lucky reader to follow.


Sylvana said...

I would NEVER write in books, not even ones that I owned because I just felt that was disrespectful.

Those threads would sometimes be in the books that I read, but I never followed them. I felt that person must have a lot of nerve to think that they could control me so easily. I'd get to that page when I was damn good and ready! Besides, it was always something stupid anyway.

Maria said...

"Be Sure To Drink Your Ovaltine." That's the ultimate secret message.

This got me thinking about the books I read when I was a kid. My favorites were the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. I would always peek ahead to see if the adventure I chose ended in my gory death. It was quite a power trip to choose your fate when you're nine years old.