An Open Letter to the Oppressor by Deb Danielle (sort of)

Dear Oppressor,

We have banded together in protest of your ill treatment. We do not enjoy living in boxes, much less boxes in the basement under the stairs. And if you think it was an improvement to shove one box underneath the old TV, you are mistaken.

We hear you sitting there in front of that TV with your bottle of beer and your potato chips. We hear Danielle walk by us on her way to the laundry room and she often pauses, sighs and runs a hand along the outside of our Rubbermaid dungeon. She misses us.

And just so you know, most of us have been around longer than you have. Some of us have been with Danielle since she was a child—years before that play you did together, years before she liked boys at all. Danielle did have her first kiss at age 3, but for sure, Go, Dog. Go! was around before that. Maybe Pollyanna and Watership Down too.

Regardless, the Narnia box set, the Green Gables books and all the Helen Forresters and Judy Blumes knew Danielle long before you. Go Ask Alice, the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen helped her through sixth and seventh grade with braces and changing schools and that little boyfriend who kissed her four times on the lips plus twice on the cheek and kept breaking up with her in between. On The Road and The Unbearable Lightness of Being sunbathed with Danielle in the south of France when she was sixteen. Shakespeare has been with her before she even realized he spoke English and don’t give us your speech about working at Stratford, Mr. Actor—we don’t care.

Not only are we out of order, but Jitterbug Perfume and Tigana (which you and Danielle read together on your honeymoon!) are squished at the very bottom and under daily attack by spiders. Your rusty screwdriver (rusty from under-use!) is on top of Alice Walker and Marion Zimmer Bradley. And the videos! Ann-Marie Macdonald has a sense of humor but Virginia Woolf is affronted every morning when she wakes up next to Buns of Steel. Show some respect.

To sum up, you are an upstart. We have tolerated being moved to that first apartment, then to the condo, then to another house, where we thought we’d stay. We liked the built-in shelves there. Then you moved us again. You promised Danielle you would keep us dry and clean, but you stacked us, willy-nilly, on top of that ugly old bar in the basement, and threw a sheet over us. It was dusty, damp and the sheet fell off. Mouse poop fell on us and the renovation took much longer than three weeks. We had a year of freedom and then six months ago you started another project and here we are in the basement again.

Remember Harry Potter and all that befell those muggles who kept him under their stairs. Release us and restore us to our proper place. We are Danielle’s books and woe betide the man (or woman, of course) who disregards our power…

18 Replies to “An Open Letter to the Oppressor by Deb Danielle (sort of)”

  1. Dear Books,

    I do miss you! But in his defense, The Oppressor, as you call him, is actually a very hard working man. It’s true that he is sometimes careless of your comfort and he doesn’t really understand how I like to see you every day, but it’s not his fault our house needs so much renovation. He’s only one man and he has to work for a living in addition to doing all the renovations himself. (Remember, Books, I’m not handy.)

    And don’t forget about the baby. Those lower shelves have become temporarily unsafe for you and if you were there you would find yourselves being pulled out daily, your pages ripped and who knows what else. You might even get thrown, bitten or chewed on…

    I will look into the spider situation, remove the screwdriver and certainly I will get better companions for Ann-Marie and Virginia. Maybe Jane Fonda or an Indigo Girls CD? In the meantime, please be patient and know nothing will ever replace you.

    Deb Danielle

  2. Heee! Danielle, what a fun post. You got me with the Virginia Woolf / Buns of Steel line.

    I loathe the idea of remodeling OR moving, because it would involve packing boxes and boxes of books. Heavy books. It’s an addiction, isn’t it?

  3. Who’d have known your DH was into bondage?!
    Very cute piece, D! My kids did a HUGE cleaning of closets this past week and amidst the trash bags full of old clothes and toys, I managed to toss in a few books that I’ve read and don’t need to keep. So I suspect they’ll be surprised at the Goodwill, while rummaging through the size 4 little girls clothes, the polly pockets, the Barbie games, to find a random book here or there totally not age-appropriate!

  4. Great piece Danielle! Funny – but also made me think seriously about our third floor room-slash- storage room full of boxes…. oops that’s another distraction. Time to start my hour!

  5. I laughed out loud at Virginia Woolf finding herself beside Buns of Steel. I bought the house I’m in now because of the built-in bookcases on either side of the fireplace. I couldn’t live without being able to see my books at all times, so I feel your pain. Sounds like it won’t be too long before your hubby finishes renovating and can free your books from oppression.

  6. Jess–thanks for the chuckle. And don’t move, trust me. It’s very hard on the poor books.

    Maureen–Your hardcovers should come hang out with mine and then we can send them off to therapy!

    Jenny–That sounds like a very satisfying purge and maybe those books will be happy in their new homes.

    Jing–if you’re back here again, you need to stop procrastinating…

    Maia–SIgh. Built-ins. I do miss them and yours are fabulous. I think Michael and I actually fell in love with the last house because of the built-ins. They distracted us so much we hardly noticed that the back half of the house had “settled” over a foot!

    Cindy–Thankfully, The Oppressor has a great sense of humour. I’m sure he’ll be in here later to defend himself, but today he’s running all over the city–too busy to oppress or defend!

    Kim–Yes, I do need a Room of Requirement! And I never did get those Buns of Steel…

  7. My books are not displayed in bookshelves in our living room, but I have a whole spare room with shelves dedicated to them. I also have older books (and my husband’s because he never re-reads) on some built-ins in the basement and I do believe that in these shelves also lives a Cher workout tape (seriously, I used to use it every day). It’s no Buns of Steel, of course.

    Great post, Danielle!

  8. My books are behaving themselves on their shelves. The young ones don’t know, but the old ones remember that half of them had to go live with my sister — on a farm — before the last cross country move. They heard us talking about how much extra weight and expense they added to every move so they know that some of them were sacrificed and they know the chosen ones were books we decided we could let go. The really old ones remember what happened to those two big boxes of vinyl record albums that were hauled around the world and then one day, they disappeared. No complaints from the survivors 🙂

  9. Actually, books understand that there’s a time and place for them. Initially they were all debutantes in the bookstore, then they became friends as you read them, next came their role as award winners in the built-in bookshelves and now they’re resting and waiting for your daughter to discover their value for herself.

  10. Thanks Gail! But oh boy, now I’m feeling the pressure.

    Joanne–the Cher workout–that’s priceless! I bet we could do a whole week in here talking about workout videos.

    Lisa, I like it when they behave. And what a history yours have! We’ve just inherited two boxes of vinyl records and they’re on the third floor. What we’re going to do with them is a mystery.

    Larramie–My books are usually pretty understanding, they’re just a little frustrated right now. As soon as they’re back on their shelves, they’ll forgive my poor hubby. A few of them are even his.

  11. Feeling quite oppressed myself. I posit this: if you lived in a home full of vengeful, mouthy books such as the ones in question, would you not feel the need to take action. Oh I have heard you books, I have been witness to your rumblings in the night, meeting on the built-in bookshelf in groups of more than three. I did not hear the mermaid singing. I did however, hear the mutiny on the bounty. And I realize I am mixing the metaphor of books with movies, but for god sakes, if you had books murmuring horrific things about you in the night, you’d be a bit mixed up too! So yes, you may feel oppressed, but all I have to say is this…reap what you sow books, reap what you sow. And that line, coming from a good farmer’s son, should be simple to understand. Or not, depending if you grew up on a farm.

    Sincerely Yours,

    The Oppressor (or, depending on your point of view, the Oppressed)

  12. Brilliant post! 🙂 And I feel for your books, I do … it’s a tough life, sometimes. And The Oppressor seems quite prolific as well … in addition to all the articulate members of your household, do the dishes have anything to say as well?

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