Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Sign Of Things To Come

A very nice old man came into the bookstore today and asked me to help him pick out books for his two-year-old twin grandsons. One of the boys, he said, likes Thomas the Train books and the other enjoys the Pottery Barn catalog. "It's the pictures or something I guess," said Gramps, slightly bemused but otherwise not too terribly concerned.

We settled on a Bob the Builder book for the Thomas the Train twin (branching out a bit) and Hop on Pop for the Pottery Barn kid. Because, really, what the hell do you do with a two year old boy who likes to read the Pottery Barn catalog? If I'd had it handy, I would have offered him my Ikea catalog -- a bit of a step down from Pottery Barn, sure, but a lot hipper and way more ethical. And all the while, Gramps was chuckling and describing to me how the twins couldn't possibly be more different. No shit, Gramps. You had me at Pottery Barn catalog.

After we got the twins taken care of, Gramps asked me, "Do you have anything on the French and Indian War?" and explained that he was a reenactor. "Of the French and Indian War?!," I blurted out, "I didn't know anyone reenacted that one." "Yeah, the Civil War guys get all the glory," he replied sadly.

Amazingly, we did have something on the French and Indian War, two somethings in fact, right there on the Revolutionary War shelf of our Military History section. (The history buff in me often thinks about overhauling our extensive History section, organizing it chronologically by war and alphabetically by author, but other history buffs always seem to find stuff I didn't even know we had, so I figure something must be working for us.) While I hunted for French and Indian War books, I learned a lot about said war from Gramps. Mostly that it's a shame the way History teachers just gloss over the poor French and Indian War.

Since I'd developed sort of a soft spot for Gramps by this point (how can you not heart a guy who reenacts the freakin' French and Indian War and has not yet realized his two-year-old grandson is gay?), I didn't mention that I am one of those glossy History teachers.

Here's the extent of my coverage of the French and Indian War in 11th grade US History classes: "So, it's called the French and Indian War not because it was fought between the French and the Indians, but because the English fought it (on behalf of the American colonists) against the French and the Indians. Over beaver hats." Then I go into a bit about historiography, which nobody finds interesting but me, and I end with a brief reminder that waging war is not cheap. This leads me to the question, "So let's say you're England and you just fought this long-ass, expensive-ass war to protect your colonists in the New World. How are you gonna get that money back?" "Uh, tax the colonists?," someone inevitably guesses.

And there you go, we're on to the Revolution and considerably more fun. There's no beaver hats, but at one point all these pissed off Bostonians dress up like Indians and turn the Boston Harbor into a nice cuppa tea. What's not fun about that?


Patrick said...

I was always more into the Ikea catalogue. That's my gay two cents.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Reenacting the F&IW sounds like more fun to me, because maybe you get to be an Indian.

lulu said...

or at least wear one of the hats.