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.