Friday, November 9, 2007

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

"Do you really want to make me cry? / Wrapped in sorrow, words are token / Come inside and catch my tears"

We packed up to move to our new offices today. I have only been with BioWare since April 2006, so I don't have much to pack away. Some people, though, have been at the company long enough to accumulate things that don't even belong to them. Like my friend Mac, who was packing up the contents of his bookcase and found a book called Anguished English that apparently belonged to Derek. Inside the book, you see, was an inscription to this Derek, presumably from someone who thought he might enjoy the book.

How did Derek's book end up here? Why would he leave it in Mac's bookcase? Does he even remember that it was a gift from someone? Doesn't he miss it?

When I am browsing in a used book store, I am always surprised to find books with inscriptions inside them. If the date of the inscription is older than 10 years or so, I usually make peace with it being re-sold at the store. I imagine that there is a reasonable story behind how it ended up in this place. Maybe Julie was a college professor. When she died and left an office full of books, the people who were in charge of cleaning up her office decided to give away or sell the books. I'm sure Julie, the one for whom this book was meant, would never casually discard a gift with so much thought put into it.

When I find a more recent inscription, the story I imagine is a little different, a little more heartbreaking. Maybe Elise and Ollie broke up, and it hurt Ollie too much to keep this volume of Pablo Neruda's poetry that Elise gave him on their anniversary. Maybe Katie's mother didn't know Katie hates Stephen King books, but Katie would rather give the book to Goodwill than talk to her mother honestly. Maybe Derek just finished the book and thought he'd clear out his junky bookcase by leaving the book in someone else's office.

I secretly fear that I will one day find a book with "Love, Cookie" written in very familiar glittery ink inside the cover.

"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" by Culture Club
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