Take heed, fair readers: in the realm of unexpected traces left in a book by previous handlers, owners, borrowers, and the like, I’ve come across a rare bit of treasure: a visible link to someone at least (or most likely) connected to the person who opened up the pages before I got my hands on them.
Yes, actual photographs!!*
I had to refrain from posting immediately about this magnificent find; the pictures fell out of a volume I was sending someone as a gift– and I didn’t want to destroy the surprise of either the photos (which I replaced, so that she, too, could marvel) or the knowledge that she’d soon be the owner of a copy of Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. With confirmation that the package arrived, I can now officially celebrate the pretty-much-perfect insertion of unintentionally goofy pictures into an ironic-nostalgic take on an old subgenre of kiddie lit.
Devouring those artless adventures in elementary school, I could only have dreamed of coming across a mysterious clue as significant as this pair of snapshots. Had the possibility been realized, I undoubtedly would have viewed it as evidence of some low-grade variety of transcendence attempting to communicate something very interesting, maybe even important, to yours truly. Decades later, I can’t imagine there being anything world-historical about these human-canine portraits falling into my lap– but I’m still curious about why the shots were taken. Was it the very owner of NPH who, featured in the picture, either set up a camera on automatic timer, or had someone else take these photographs– and if so, why? For whom? Also, where did that blanket come from, and did it ever induce seizures in anyone who looked at it in the wrong way? Did this person successfully complete one version of Mr. Harris’ autobiography, and if so, was it a satisfying end to the narrative arc that had been occurring up until then?
And there you have it: suddenly, I’ve been sucked into a very mundane version of escapism, losing myself to unanswerables in lieu of, say, the evening study round I should have started an hour ago. Now, if a Polaroid of Putin and his dog shows up in today’s chapter in my Russian text, I’ll definitely take that as a reasonable excuse to stop my review of the conditional– but the adventurous path that would take me on would undoubtedly be much darker than the apple-pie images I’ve been discussing. In real life, I would definitely choose that safer, if less interesting, of the two options.
* With the face of the human, at least, blurred to protect identity. I’m hopefully correct in assuming the dog won’t mind being given a negligible amount of exposure; if that’s not the case, I hereby humbly beg for forgiveness.