Free Time

I like to sell my old textbooks on Amazon.  I like to keep my prices low to entice new customers. I like to stick a post-it note on the inside cover of each book, wishing its new owner the best of luck in their studies.  But my most favorite thing to do is to take two book shipments and swap their addresses.

Howard Cahill of Detroit, Michigan? My deepest sympathies, but you won’t be receiving your University Physics 11th Edition text book from me. You’ll be receiving a collection of various works from William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. An outrage- I know.

Julia McClure of Ocala, Florida? You might be wondering where on earth this cumbersome physics text book has come from, and why your English Lit 302 novels haven’t arrived yet. Didn’t you specify your post box number? Weren’t you explicit in your request for instant delivery?

This is just another example of the backwater communities of the internet taking advantage of honest simplefolk! One must get in touch with the proper administrative powers forthwith to sort this mess out!

The warehouse will be phoned up, this problem will be dealt with, and that’s where it ends.

If, however, you care enough, both of you will notice the “misplaced” address slip in each of your respective packages, containing the contact formation of the intended recipient.

You will contact each other at the same time, Julia by e-mail, and Howard by phone.  What a funny coincidence! Serendipitous, wouldn’t you say? You will discover that Howard can’t send the books back immediately because he’s in New York for the weekend. But what’s this!? Julia too is in New York for the weekend! How luck you two are!

On his train to New York, perhaps Howard flips through The Importance of Being Ernest, captivated by a wit and understanding of the human condition he has never experienced in his engineering studies.

On her plane to New York, maybe Julia thumbs through a chapter or two of the textbook, astounded by the beautiful complexities and delicate symmetries revealed by the equations of physics.

It is possible that they arrive in New York.  Maybe they meet at a small coffee shop recommended by their respective parents.  Hours of conversation fly by before they even remember the initial purpose for their meeting.  Oh, the books? Of course. Yes. I didn’t forget.  Me neither. Say… this is going to sound a bit forward but… I have an extra ticket to this really great band playing downtown tonight. Say no more, I’d love to.

Just maybe they go. A taxi fare here, an ice cream cone there, and to top it all off, a live concert like neither of them have ever experienced before.  Inspiring music, dazzling lights, lyrics that seem to resonate with everyone in the arena. But sooner or later, the concert ends, and the crowd disperses. Julia and Howard, again, just maybe, have to figure out the next move.

It’s getting kind of late. Yeah, maybe we should- Grab a room somewhere? Yeah. I mean, it’ll save on travel costs if we split something, right? You read my mind.

And then it’s possible, they check in to the nearest hotel. Maybe Howard offers to take the couch.  Julia accepts, perhaps, and they smile and bid each other goodnight. Conceivably, Howard tries to fall asleep, but something keeps him awake. It could be that Julia is unable to reach a point of slumber. For all one knows, maybe Julia gets out of bed to turn on the light, only to be met with a firm hand at the light switch.  And so it would be that this is the moment that the bough breaks, and they thrust themselves upon one another.  Perchance, they spend the next three nights lost in each others embrace.  Each is unclear where one ends and the other begins.  A steady flow of room service keeps sustains them with all they need. They are at the axial hub of the universe and all that is life and love.  Fate has brought them together.  At last a meaningful connection with another human.

Which is funny because I set it up so that I only send books to people who are first cousins that don’t know about each other. Ha. Sucks.

- George Robinson, C.E.O./Director – The North American Coalition for Love at the Expense of Funny Looking Kids.