Anyone who loves books knows that certain books hold special meanings to us. Some, make us remember our parents. Others, remind us of past loves and hope for better ones in the future. Yet others remind us of those certain times in our life that have come and gone. Those youthful years of dreaming and wishing that existed before they were dashed by the bullshit that comes with adulthood. With that being said my good friend Ryan Spencer gave my unborn son a piece of his own past in the form of a book.
This past weekend was me and Stacey’s baby shower. It was a great day and I was really happy with the amount of people who showed and even happier that Stacey was happy. This might have been the most complicated baby shower ever planned because of…well…failures early on in the planning process. Those however were, for the most part, taken care of and the day went off without a hitch. Stacey was more stressed about this one day anything else so far in her pregnancy. My only hope in all of it was that she had a good time and enjoyed herself. This is her first baby as well as my own. It was her first baby shower and it’s one of those important memories for a women that should be fun and looked back at happily. Failure wasn’t an option. We had a lot of family and a few good friends show. Sadly a few friends who I thought would be there, were not, but that’s how these things roll I’m told.
One of the guests was one of my closest friends and probably the most knowledgeable person I have ever met when it comes to coffee. His advice has always been sound and there has been many times over the last several years where I should have listened to him and didn’t and I still regret it. His name is Ryan Spencer.
He showed up in typical Ryan fashion walking in with his tats roaring, gauged ears gleaming and sporting a band t-shirt that said “Kill Em All”. At one point, before the opening of the presents occurred he and I were outside um…getting fresh air…and he told me what the gift he brought was. Ryan is about my age, we know and remember many of the same things and enjoy a mutual love of being crotchety old men. Ryan though, much like myself have our moments of sentimentality which I am sure is brought on by old age. One of the parts of the shower was that people brought a book or books instead of a card. The idea behind this was to help build my sons library. It was great and we got a whole slew of books. The book Ryan brought though was a little different because of the meaning behind it.
The book he gave was an old hardcover book called, “Whoever Heard of a Fird” and was written by Othello Bach with absolutely wonderful illustrations by Michelle Dorman. This book was first published in 1984 and Ryan read this book when he was a little kid and in his own words, “Was my favorite book and I think read it every damn day.” I also vaguely remember this book growing and up and I’m pretty sure I checked it out from the library in elementary school in the 80’s. Have you ever heard of it? Here is what Amazon.com says about it.
“Whoever Heard of a Fird is a story about the adventures of Fird—a magical creature who is art fish and part bird—as he and his friends search for his lost species. “
So you may be saying right now, “Ok so this guy bought your kid the same book he read when he was little, people do that a lot. What’s the big deal?” Well, here is the big deal, at least to me, Stacey and all the women in the room Mr. Spencer sent swooning when they found out exactly what he gave. When I said earlier that Ryan, “gave my son a piece of his own past” I wasn’t just being pretty with words. The copy of Whoever Heard of a Fird that Ryan gave my son is the SAME copy Ryan himself read when he was a boy. It’s got all worn edges and that awesome musty smell one would expect from a book that is 30 years old.
Later that night I was sitting home talking to Stacey and we thought about Ryan, our son and this book. We realized that Ryan is an uncle, he has nieces or nephews of his own who he could have passed this book along to and kept it in the family. Ryan has held onto this book for 3 decades now and has passed it onto my son and my family. We got a lot of great gifts and books for my son this past weekend but this one, this book has an extra special memory to it now that I will always remember. Not bad for a guy with a bunch of tats and gauged out ears who hangs himself from hooks for fun. Good friends are hard to find and I am glad Ryan will have a place in our family for years to come. I can’t wait to read this book to my boy. So thank you Ryan.