So this week was the university library’s annual book sale. This can be kind of a hit-or-miss event– most years, they just clean out three or four small sections of the library, so the variety is either incredible or nonexistent. Example: Two years ago, the sections they cleaned out were Programming & Computer Science and Folklore – meaning if you weren’t there for Windows 95 owners’ manuals or HTML 4 MADE EASY or The Red Fairy Book you were sore out of luck. (That was a good year; I still have not read all the books of fairy tales I picked up there.)
This year wasn’t quite so promising. They cleaned out their vocal/piano duets, which was rad, but otherwise it was twenty-year-old books on Environmental Law and Jewish Studies and Civil Law and History of Library Science, which… did not yield me, personally, much fruit. But I cannot say I am disappointed with my haul, because I found….
I found More Boners.
Has any title ever before been this alive with promise? I ask you. I picked it up because my inner twelve-year-old desired it, and two lines in I knew it was going to be mine. This book is like Shit My Students Write, but published in 1931 (by Viking Press). It is– perhaps you have already inferred this– the sequel to the apparently-quite-popular Boners. (SMSW, for those unacquainted with it, compiles hilarious fuckups by students on school essays, for the enjoyment of the internet. This is apparently an older idea than I once believed.)
Are you old book people? Am I talking to old book people? Then you will know how exciting it is to have this – the pages are thick and soft, three people have signed the inside cover (one Ottoman dated their ownership 1942), the spine is fragile and it smells like dust, someone has put check marks next to all of their favorite parts. More Boners was well-loved before it found its way to the stacks of Bizzell Memorial Library at the University of Oklahoma. And see, I am an old book person, but I also share a body with a secret twelve-year-old, and– and this book–
–oh, god, I’m just going to quote it.
From the foreword:
With the success of Boners, misinformation has finally assumed its right place in the American home, relegating the more exact sciences to the dusty cupboards and shelves. The pyorrhean springs of knowledge have dried up; … children armed with Boners as a weapon have revolted successfully against the correct but uninspired teachings of their elders. The Millenium is at hand. Down with Information!
ARMED WITH BONERS
It only needed a second deluge of errors to drown the forces of Erudition. In answer to the cries of thousands upon thousands the flood has now descended in a shower of More Boners (a title slightly lacking in originality but fraught with meaning).
look, later on there’s a line about “individuals who have generously sent us authentic Boners” but I’m already giggling guiltily into my hand, let’s not make this undignified
I MEAN the Boners themselves are pretty funny in places– shit like– let me see–
A corps is a dead gentleman, a corpse is a dead lady.
A criterion is a most savage animal.
Queen Elizabeth swore like a trooper and painted herself and other things.
Every morning my mother waves her arms to stretch her abominable muscles.
The benefit of latitude and longitude is that when a man is drowning he can call out what latitude and longitude he is in and we can find him.
….wait, I mentioned that this was illustrated by Dr. Seuss, right?
I CANNOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP
When did the word “boner” come to mean what it presently does? I have not the time to investigate – maybe that is a post for another day. But I would just like to express my gratitude to the world– to the universe– to the whole English language, that this is the case, because it means that I own an 80-year-old book, illustrated by Dr, Seuss, with the word BONER on the cover, and I think the inner twelve-year-old and I can both agree– that is a privilege worth far more than the $1.00 I paid for it. I will treasure this book, and maybe even put my name in the front cover. For posterity.
The shower of Boners has descended, and I am caught in the deluge like Evy in that one scene from V for Vendetta.