I recently sent two books to a friend. They were special books. I ordered them from Amazon and had them sent directly to my friend. Easy-peasy, right? But remember when we would buy a book, inscribe it, wrap it and present it, or in the odd case, mail it. The inscription was usually, always, personal. Perhaps something that only the two of you would understand.
One of the books I sent was “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. A book she was unfamiliar with; a book everyone should be familiar with. And even if you’ve never read the book, you know the title, yes? And even if you’ve never even heard the title then somewhere along the line you’ve come across the most quoted sentence from the book – “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Of course, if you inscribe a book to someone that means they can never get rid of it. No matter how unsentimental you may be, a book with a personal message, well, one can hardly donate that to the library or the Salvation Army. Who wants a book with other people’s names in it – unless of course they are the names of famous people. I can’t say I qualify on that account.
My own copy of “The Little Prince” was a gift. It has an elaborate, and very personal inscription…
August, 1967 – two months before my 21st birthday. I remember that Summer; I remember Rita, tho for the life of me I can’t remember her last name. She was a college student, my age, working at a summer job in the office where I worked. As I recall she came from a somewhat privileged background, and bless her heart, she hadn’t ever really met someone her age who had to work to pay the rent.
And even tho we lived in the same city, and spent just about every day of that summer together, either working or playing, we never saw each other or spoke again after August 15, 1967.
But – I will always have this book. And I will always remember Rita.
And the book I sent to my friend, with no inscription, no indication that the book and my friend are special, years from now, who will remember?