What? They Threw A Book? At Our Door?

The dogs always let us know if they think something fishy is going on. Out front, out back, on the side yard – anywhere, really.  And they let us know that afternoon, with a few low barks of suspicion that gradually gained volume to a few, eardrum-busting barks.

They didn’t like what was happening at all. And that’s when I heard the thud, followed by the fast-moving feet of four or five kids charging down the stairs to the front door to see what had the dogs in a tizzy.

“Mom,” my oldest said after coming back inside from the front step. “Someone threw a book at our house.”

I knew.

“No, it’s like an actual book,” Ron’s daughter, Riley, then echoed.

I was unfazed. They were not able to compute, and their tween faces demonstrated that.  The dogs no longer gave a shit.

“It’s a phone book,” I told them, with a nonchalance that made them expel one of those half breaths, like people do when they’re exasperated. “There’s phone numbers in it.”

phone book
A phone book on the stoop — like a time capsule from the past.

The existence of a phone book was as radical to them as if a giraffe had just wandered into the neighborhood. They couldn’t get it. They didn’t understand why someone would throw a book at the house – like, who would do that? And were they being nice or were they jerks?  Or, why someone would need an actual book with phone numbers in it?

The whole moment was a long time coming for my oldest, who a year or so ago got to talking with me about the requirements for a driver’s license. I told her, and then reminisced about my driving instructor, who went by “Dr. Death.”

How I remember my driver’s ed instructor. Pretty much. Minus the balloon.

He was intimidating by design. It was his shtick. He was every bit the part of a driver’s instructor. And me? I was tiny, and just looked young. I was the teen girl you look at as an adult and think there’s no way that kid should be driving.

But I was, and I was at the wheel of a minivan – because that’s what we had to maneuver on those country roads, through those four-way stops and on the “96.” But I had an after-market accessory under my butt.

“He made me sit on a phone book,” I told my daughter during that conversation. “So I could see.”

She made a face.

“I would drift to the right because I was scared of oncoming traffic,” I told her. “So the phone book helped me see.”

Again with the face. And then this…

“What’s a phone book?” she asked.

That happened. What’s a phone book. I knew I’d get questions about tape decks, corded phones and discmans, but a phone book?  Totally unexpected.

So when that book hit our front step, it learned them, in a very archaeology class kind of way. Their big discovery didn’t romance them enough to hang around and discuss the “why” part of a phone book, at least they now know what one is.

They’re probably just grateful they’ll never have to use one – even if their driver’s test is on the line.