July 17, 2009

She Hate Me

Sally does not like the way I sort books. She takes pains to tell me this three times a year when we both volunteer to set up a fundraising book sale. Junior High School politics are long past for me, so I swallow the urge to bray, "You are not the boss of me!" I smile and go on my merry way, sorting books in a manner that apparently annoys her. A lot.

I have been volunteering for this organization a very long time, long before Sally ever bought her little book sale bar code scanner and went into the book collecting/selling business. Before that, a handful of volunteers gabbed and sorted, recommending books for each others' children and grandchildren and whiling away a few hours. After sorting and arranging, I purchase books for myself, the boys, Hart's house and the Dawes School PTO used book sale. But it's all become very cutthroat now. Sally means business.

At the last sale, I had Hart along with me. He announced that he wanted the final two Harry Potter books. Sally is affirmatively NOT in the market for anything Harry Potter-related. Sally is a Christian fundamentalist home-schooler (and a Muggle). She is looking for science books that show co-existing dinosaurs and humans. (I am not making this up.) So it was a mild surprise that the two Harry Potter books I'd set aside by my purse were gone not three minutes later. "I didn't know they were yours," Sally said. Right.

I suspect that Sally hopes I will just leave the volunteer cadre. Of course, now this will never happen. Are we competitors for the same books? Maybe, but book collecting is really just a hobby for me and I have no interest in My First Bible or anything related to creationism and Sally is happy to leave the books on Jewish holidays and crafts to me.

Everyone else I have told this story to has a differing theory. Jewish people shake their heads and say, "That is just mean and petty." But non-Jews have a different read. "Does she know you are Jewish?" Of course. "There's your answer," a friend told me gravely. A devout Christian friend laughed heartily. "You know she believes you have no purpose to exist." This makes me feel vaguely icky, but sad. I can't win her over. I haven't done anything to deliberately antagonize her.

So today, when I found an entire carton of books I know Sally collects, I bought the whole box. When the inevitable directive about my book sorting came, I took my ear buds out and said, "No. I don't want to do it that way." I still felt icky and petty, but at least with the music on, I could not hear her response.


Celia said...

Gosh, I hope I'm not the "devout Christian" you reference--I'm just a cradle Catholic who can't find any alternative. Sort of a cultural Catholic. Anyway, if I said anything like that, I meant that some fundamentalists can't see the raison d'etre for anyone who doesn't see things the way they do, particularly people who do things outside the norm, such as (in my case) adopting as a single woman. I've had more than one of them sort of tilt their heads when they heard that, and say, with genuine puzzlement, something to the effect of "And why would you do something like that?" So it's not that they think I (or we) don't have a reason to exist, it's that they don't "get" my way of being in the world. A slight, but significant difference.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the advantages to living in a non English speaking country. What a piece of work she is.