Keel the Bool

There’s a perhaps mildly racist parable in the How to Get out of
book which recounts the following
paraphrased story.
A boy in assumedly South America or Mexico has a bull. This
bull is his best friend. His father, however, cannot afford to buy food or
shelter for himself and his son for much longer. He tells his son that he needs to
sell the boy’s beloved bull in order to buy the things they family needs. The
son pleads, saying this is his only friend. His father tells him that with the
money from the sale, they could afford things that can’t now – like school and
new shoes and supplies. The boy thinks on this, and replies, “Keel the Bool.”
The intention of this story is to illustrate that there may
be things that we are holding on to out of pride or vanity or stubbornness.
And, that if we are in tried financial straits, it is time to Keel the Bool.
I have brought to the local bookstores my supply of “B” books.
Books that I wouldn’t miss if they were gone, and I have sold a handful over the
last few months. This morning, I began, in my morning pages, to write a list of
all the things that I could sell at a yard sale that I am now planning to have
on Saturday. There were things that were obvious that I could part with, things
that wouldn’t be missed, or wouldn’t hamper my quality of life. There are those
which would be missed, but an acceptable loss. And then there are those that I’m not sure I have the
audacity to sell yet.
I made the decision earlier this week to sell the electric
guitar and amp that I’ve carried around since my friend gave them to me about 4
or 5 years ago when he was moving. I have liked having them around. Being able to use the electric unplugged when it’s
late but I still want to play and not disturb the neighbors. But for all
intents and purposes, I have rarely used it, and even more rarely as it’s
supposed to be used – as an electric guitar.
So, I have little problem getting rid of it, except that my
ego has enjoyed knowing that I have it, and feel “cool” having it.
But this morning, writing all these out, figuring I better
just bring this equipment to the music store that buys things, and see if I can
sell them there, well, I wrote down if I could sell my acoustic guitar.
I have had this – nice – guitar since I was 17. It was my
high school graduation present from my parents. It’s not top of the line, but
it wasn’t cheap either. But, like it’s electric cousin, I rarely use it.
I do use it though. I probably pick it up at least once a
month, and if I’m on an “I’m really
going to learn how to play this damn thing” kick, then more often than that.
When I had been taking guitar lessons about 3 years ago, I was playing it
almost daily for about 6 weeks. Then my funds ran short, and lessons got cut. I
don’t know that I could sell it, though, out of sentimentality rather than future visions of Clapton-like skill.
So, I moved on through my apartment, back to my book shelf.
And now, stacked on my desk, ready to be taken to the bookstore today to see
what they might take and pay me for in return … are “A” books. Books, surely,
that I could get from the library. But there’s something you should know about
me – I hardly ever buy books. Ever. Avid
reader and writer that I am, I was raised going to the library. There were lots
of books coming in and out of my house as I grew up, we were a reading bunch,
but there were surely less than 100 books for the entire household, including
cookbooks (well, maybe not including cookbooks – my mom had a little bit of an
addiction thing).
Point being, any book that I now own is owned because I bought
it. Some are ones I bought for undergrad or grad school and decided to keep because of their literary value to me; some, I bought because there was a very rare occasion when I wanted to own that book – knew
that I’d wanted to read it repeatedly, which, to me, is the only reason to buy a book. 
So, a select stack of these now sit on my desk. Joyce,
Dickinson, Winterson, Ensler, Steve Martin, even (Pure Drivel – if you haven’t read it, there is an incredible
short story/vignette about a shortage of punctuation marks, and he is therefore
allowed to use only ONE period in the entire story. It is beyond brilliant). Faulkner.
I’m going to sell back a Faulkner. It’s like slicing off a chunk of skin.
There are a few that I will not sell. But I admit that that
choice was made more because of the condition of the book and the unlikelihood
that they’ll be bought back. Most of my treasures are on the to-be-sold pile on
my desk.
Yes, come tomorrow morning, I will have either accepted the
receptionist job I’ve been offered, or I will be finally chosen for the marketing position I want. So, yes, I
will have a job, and will know which one it is in approximately 12 hours, following
my Google Hangout interview. But, a job doesn’t equal a paycheck until about
two weeks into the gig, if not more, as they get you on the payroll.
So, I have money for September rent, and about $30 left
over. For food, for transportation to whichever job it is. But, mostly, for
I am willing to sell back these treasures, assuming, of
course, that the wary and selective eyes of the bookstore even wants them. I am
willing to sell them back to feed myself, and my cat.
I am willing to sell a musical instrument I don’t use. I’m
not willing to sell the acoustic, because I don’t think, yet, that I’ll have
to. But I am also willing to put a lot of junk and not-so-junk on sale at a
yard sale on Saturday.
So, if you’re in the Oakland Piedmont Ave neighborhood on
Saturday between 10 and 3, please come by the “Help me feed myself and my cat,
Stella” sale.
Lastly, I’ll just note, that, yes, all of these things are
just things. Not nearly as important as
housing and feeding myself. And further, once I do have a job and a paycheck,
anything that I sorely regret, I can replace or buy back again.
And “A” books as these may be, I can get them all at the
library. Just don’t judge my worldliness by the emptiness of my bookshelf.

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