A gift of books


I FELT QUITE the intellectual Thursday afternoon as I circled the huge downtown plaza afoot with a red bookstore bag under my arm. I’m sure everyone noticed.

There were three books in that bag, the ones you see in the photo. The three of them combined set me back about eight bucks, U.S., but in pesos, of course.

But they are not for me. They’re for our nephew, the one I once dubbed the Little Vaquero, who turns 17 next month. In the past, on Christmas and birthdays I always just slipped him some cash, which he prefers, but I’m not going to do that anymore.

I’m buying him books. If you don’t read books, you remain ignorant all your life, which is why so many nincompoops walk the streets and roads of the world. Will he read these books? Were I a wagering man, I’d say no, but he’s getting them anyway.

We have a load of nieces and nephews, but he’s the one we’re closest too, and he’s the only one who was adopted. He is very bright. When he was 6 or 7, we used to gift him complicated jigsaw puzzles, which he would complete lickety-split. It was amazing.

It was like watching Kasparov play chess.

He’s had a difficult life. His “father” accidentally shot himself dead about 10 years ago, and his “mother” finds motherhood challenging. I’ll leave it at that. He dropped out of school a few months back, and I doubt he will return, though he says he will. He was in the 10th grade. Few of our nieces and nephews have finished high school.

He spends his time staring at a cell phone. That’s pretty much it. All day long.

His redeeming quality is that he is good-natured,* even more so now that he’s dropped out of school, and his days are completely free for cell phone staring.

I told him a couple of days ago that I would not be gifting him cash in the future, that I would be buying him books. He smiled.

* * * *

* Not so much with his mother.

15 thoughts on “A gift of books

    1. Ms. Shoes: Yes, he once was captivated by Catholicism even though no one ever sent him to Mass. About a year ago, he wanted to be a model of all things. He’s a nice-looking kid, but it’s not a realistic career choice. But he has not mentioned that one in a good spell. Condoms? He is way too shy to need that. Never had a girlfriend. When I was his age, I was all over them. Well, to the extent that was possible in those long-ago days.


    2. Ms. Shoes, P.S.: One does not need to be a wizard to predict his future. He will do what his mother does, sit on the sidewalk while employees sell his coffee. And he will stare at his cell phone.


  1. Seventeen is a very immature age, generally. He’s stuck in a time warp right now. He doesn’t have a posse of male companions? They are probably all hormone-amped girl-chasers. Life is going to get very dull. What’s he looking at on the phone? Dare you ask him?


  2. Start him on the Tolkien books and then Watership Down. The Harry Potter books would be good also. Those little phones are a curse. My wife gets mad at me for doing the crossword puzzle when the kids are here, but they are glued to those damn phones. Everything else is ignored.


    1. Señór Gill: Good suggestions. I saw none of that at the small bookstore yesterday. Perhaps in the capital city where there are huge bookstores, it being a university town. On the phone matter, it’s a good thing I am not currently a parent of adolescents. There would be major conflict. I likely would be imprisoned for murder.


  3. I have a little bit of sympathy for phone starers since I’m a bit of one myself, and was an incorrigible book starer as a kid. Never been a TV starer, though. Doesn’t interest me.


    1. Creigh: As incredibly useful as cell phones are, I am convinced they will be the cause of the downfall of Western Civilization. That and the Democrat Party, of course.

      I’m buying a new cell phone next week, but I use them almost exclusively for text messages and actual calls. And checking my bank account.


  4. Telephones for young people are the same as television for the last generation, only worse. Phones are not going away unless they are replaced by something even worse. I would love to be around another 20 years to see what the phone starers complain about their kids.


    1. Dave: What makes cell phones worse than TV is that people can carry them around everywhere which we could not do with TVs. And you think today’s phone starers are going to have kids? They would need to put the phones down for a few minutes, and that would be difficult for many of them.


  5. So why doesn’t his mother insist that he remain in school? Why does she just let him stare at a phone all day? I realize from reading prior posts that she’s not exactly a model mother, but jeeze, just letting him drop out of school?

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where this strikes us as nothing short of horrifying.

    P.S. I’ll second the suggestion of the Harry Potter books; they are quite captivating.


    1. Kim: What doesn’t his mama insist? It’s a complicated atmosphere in the house. My wife’s other sister has four kids, all adults now, and not a one finished high school. And they are all struggling. When I hear people say there are no opportunities in Mexico, and that’s why there are so many po’ folks, I just roll my eyeballs. There are so many po’ folk due to the culture. That is the main reason. The people do it to themselves.

      Do forgive me for being so tardy in replying. I’ve been out of town since last Saturday. When I’m away from home, I’m mostly offline.

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