From time to time I get bent out of shape because my mother refuses (Books! How boring can you get?) to read my “blob” as she calls it. Hmph. If she had a blog, I’d read it every day. Even if it was all about her QVC obsession or her potholder collection, I’d be right there, leaving sunny comments, posting links from my blog to hers and running up the stats on her “Visitors To My Blog” counter.
Looking on the bright side, sometimes this admittedly ultra-mild version of parental neglect comes in handy. I can write movingly about my rampant alcoholism and recent sex change and…oh wait — I haven’t done any of that. Well, I can drop a few f-bombs now and then and she’s none the wiser. And what about now?! I can openly discuss her birthday gift with the world at large and she’ll never know. Nyah, nyah!
A few nights ago, Mom and I were on the phone and somehow, we got on the subject of her favorite childhood book, The Plump Pig. This picture book was around the house while I was growing up, but neither of us have seen it in years. With all the moving over the years, we’re guessing that it’s lost forever.
“Do you think that maybe there’s a new copy in a bookstore somewhere?” Mom asked. She was thinking of how her other childhood favorite, The Boxcar Children had had a resurgence of popularity.
“I’ve only ever heard of The Plump Pig because of you,” I said, but while I was talking, my fingers were on the laptop keyboard, flying to Amazon. Bingo! It was there: The Plump Pig by Alf and Helen Evers. Several copies. No images were available, but the descriptions listed copyrights of 1938, 1942, 1944, 1956 and 1960.
“Well, 1938, that’s got to be the same book,” Mom said. “That’s the year I was born, but I think I got my copy in 1942 for my birthday from my grandmother and grandfather. They were big on giving books for birthdays.”
I checked out Abebooks and found a description that contained the first line: Although the Plump Pig was the youngest pig on the farm…
“That’s IT!” we both screamed.
Since we still had no pictures, we argued about the cover and the plot: “Wasn’t the cover green?”
“No, it was white.”
“And the pig was there.”
“Yes, he was standing in flowers.”
“He was eating an apple.”
“Wasn’t he running with the apple?”
“How did he get from the skinny farmer’s place to the fat farmer’s place?”
“They weren’t farmers — they were out for a ride and saw the Plump Pig and just had to have him.”
“They took him home and let him run around in their yard with the dog and cat.”
“No, they made a little garden for him and fed him delicious treats.”
Mom sighed. “I’d love to read The Plump Pig again.”
“Me too.” As far as picture books went, The Plump Pig lacked the interpersonal conflict and drama of my own personal preschool favorite, Nurse Nancy, but it was pretty damn good.
You probably already know how this ends. I pulled out the plastic today and bought a first edition, very good condition of The Plump Pig. How much? Quite a bit more than the 1938 price of twenty-five cents, but you know how it is: It’s a book. It’s my mom. Check out the map of my psyche and you’ll see that I’m at the four-way intersection of Sentiment, Obsession, Nostalgia and Compulsion.
I can’t wait to see this book. I can’t wait to see my mom’s face when she opens her package next month. Happy Birthday, Mom!