Rosco and the Chronicles of Narnia
It was the spring of my 22nd year. Like most, or practically all guys that age, there were a few things which could and would inexorably attract my undivided attention. One thing in particular. Most of you know what I mean.
Now it is 40 years later and when the occasion presents itself, I (usually) get just as interested. But I am not waiting expressly for those occasions very much. I am just about as interested in beer, beer with the guys, beer alone, dressing up in hockey-goalie equipment and getting abused by whoever my companions are at the time, responding when the writing muse strikes (or, usually, merely whispers in my direction), soaking in hot water, and the juxtaposition of place and climate and time for a nap.
However. I had an on-again off-again girlfriend. She would get the mood sometimes, and if I was lucky, I was around. I was in the mood all the time. But that didn’t matter — the ring on the merry-go-round would present itself on rare occasions, so I had to be eternally vigilant.
We were talking one day. She mentioned a series of books she had read and enjoyed, and I said that I didn’t know a thing about them.
She measured me with a steady gaze. I can’t remember exactly how she said it, but she would withhold certain, shall we say, favors, until I read those books.
It may have been within minutes, at most the next day, but I rushed down to the Boulder Public Library. Reading those books became the foremost and most important objective of my life. Well, a means to an end.
I obtained a Member’s Library Card. Where the heck were those books? The Children’s Section, of course.
I was slightly embarrassed, but as I said, there was a very important result to be obtained. So, I became familiar with venturing to that section where the only other adults were there with their children.
There was a young man in charge, and he tried to diffuse my not-completely-convincing attempts to act un-embarrassed.
“This is a great series. It doesn’t matter how old you are. And,” he conspiratorially whispered, “I still read these myself.”
I checked out volume one and sauntered home quickly to read it. I had to admit, that even without the incentive, this was fun. I was immersed in the C S Lewis world and knew that I would enjoy subsequent visits.
Girlfriend-at-the-time gave me the Book Quiz. I knew all the important character’s names, their relationships, how they got there, what was going on, what destiny intended to be going on, how the story ended. And I was awarded my prize.
I checked out the second book in the series. A couple days later, I’m back for book number three. She probably had an ulterior motive, perhaps several motives, but I was hooked. If the star by my name during the summer-school reading program was not to be issued, the probability that I’d still read the remainder was not miniscule. Never-the-less, to my delight, there were a half-dozen or so books remaining.
Oh, that all assignments in school, and in life itself, had incentives like this. Having said/written that, it could easily be argued that yes, all assignments do, indeed, have, if not the same exact incentive, an incentive which is identical in other unforeseen and equivalent ways.
Thirty or so years later, the Chronicles of Narnia movies started coming out. I’ve seen them all so far, and I wonder, sitting in the audience, if I’m the only one who views the screen with a curious mixture of romantic tugs from the past, the shreds of actual memory of the story line, and waiting to see what happens next.