Saturday, November 10, 2012

How many words could Chuck chuck?.

(30 Dec 2012: major revision)

His obsession had begun to destroy his life. But did Chuck care?

Twice, he almost got fired. Both times his boss had found him searching the Internet for books instead finishing a vital project. Lucky for Chuck and his phone's camera, he had earlier caught his boss at the Christmas party with someone who wasn't Mrs. Boss. Ho ho ho.

Last month's mortgage check bounced. But only because Chuck spent too much at Amazon's buy-one-get-one-free sale. He justified the overdraft charges and late fees by claiming he would have spent just as much had the sale not taken place.

Over a weekend, Chuck remembered to attend 3 days of book fairs. But he forgot the two events that truly blessed those same days: his 10th wedding anniversary and his son's 2nd birthday.

His innocent toddler forgave him. His wife ... not so much. Chuck just hugged his son, and dismissed his wife's anger as "one of those women things". She obliged by not showing him any of her woman things for several weeks.

He promised to do better. Yet, he soon found he couldn't stop himself. He was buying mysteries and science fiction and graphics novels and cookbooks and cookbooks about cookbooks. He was expanding his unread library with fat biographies, lengthy thrillers, weighty westerns, and numerous little-known depressing Russian stories.

With 61,978 books, Chuck wrestled with a slight problem: He had a compulsive monkey on his back. It didn't care if it could read. And neither did he. Until that one sunny Thursday.

Customers leaving a popular bookstore found Chuck sitting in the middle of a trash-strewn parking lot sobbing. He had run out of room for just one more book. Not a big deal for you or me. But a tearful Chuck found himself shaking and drenched in a cold sweat.

In that lonely moment, he realized that his agony wasn't about a lack of space. His anguish was about his literary monkey. It had crowded out his family. It had drained his money. It had almost cost him his job.

And so, during that moonless Thursday night, in the quiet of his backyard, Chuck blazed a new chapter of living with the stoke of a match.

As the ashy smell of burning wood filled his nostrils, as the crackle and the hiss of a wild fire roared in his ears, as the heat scorched his skin, Chuck faced his sanitizing pyre, contemplating his addiction.

In his mind raged that monkey on his back - that monster of accumulated words, paragraphs, and pages. It cursed, threatened, and pleaded for its destructive life. It promised to be content with sales flyers. It begged for a simple life of only news tickers. But Chuck knew what he must do.

He thrust his trembling hands into a large old leather-covered suitcase. With a mighty heave and a forceful flick of his wrist, Chuck felt himself become a freer man as he fed the hungry flames: his Kindle. The 64 gigabyte version. Within seconds, his hideous hoard of books melted away - gone forever since he never backed up his electronic enabler.

Chuck lived happily ever after ... until a 2 terabyte reader with a 3D display, a lifetime subscription to Sports Illustrated, and a kitchen sink hit the market. Another tale for another time.

Still, this leads us to ask an important question: How many words could Chuck chuck if Chuck could chuck words? Answer: All of them.

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