Quimby Mouse

Posted on May 9, 2013

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“I know just what I want to give you.”

Quimby-Mouse

I’ve been immersed in books lately. Not so much reading, but sorting, organizing, rearranging. I stripped my big bookcase to clean it and the built-ins to paint the shelves. Once I started, I was compelled to go through the house collecting all of my books – the bedside stacks of potential night reading, the miniature Peter Rabbit collection stashed in my guest room, dusty piles of paperbacks that have been accumulating on the library floor because I’ve run out of places to put them. God, they’re everywhere. Now books are in teetering piles on the floor of my living and dining rooms, little stacked tributes to various authors and genres, an obstacle course of written words.

During my book sweep, I found Quimby Mouse. He was buried under a hefty stack of art and geography books in a dark shelf of my Art Deco buffet.

I had forgotten about him. I sat on the floor and flipped through the oversized pages, remembering the day I found this rare gift on my doorstep.

DK phoned me late one Saturday night in May. We talked for hours before he decided it was stupid to stay on the phone when we could talk in person. Phone clamped to his ear, he hopped in his car and was halfway to my house before I noticed the wind whooshing in his open windows as he drove. He hadn’t bothered to ask if I minded him showing up on my doorstep at midnight.

But that night I didn’t mind; it was the eve of my birthday and I was alone. I was almost ludicrously happy to see him. We drove around Oak Cliff until we found a taqueria open at 2 in the morning. Later we lay in bed wrapped around each other and talking, talking until we drifted asleep. Waking on my birthday, DK beside me and the brilliant Texas sun streaming in the windows, life seemed full of sweet promise.

Before he left later that morning he said, “I’m going to get you a present today. I know just what I want to give you.” He seemed quite pleased with himself.

A few days later I came home to find two books on my front door mat. One was Quimby Mouse, a graphic novel by Christopher Ware, one of DK’s favorite artists. The other was a Hell Boy comic book. Yes, really. No note or card, but none was necessary. I don’t have a lot of comic book lovers in my life. I was perplexed at this method of gift delivery, but also touched. It was a boyishly romantic gesture, sweet and unpretentious.

I never found out if either Quimby Mouse or Hell Boy was what Deke had in mind when he said he knew just what he wanted to give me. I think, even now, he wanted to share something he loved with me. During the next four years of our sporadic, intense relationship, he never gave me another gift. Well, there was that bottle of Yoohoo.

Quimby-Mouse-page

A few times I thought about cutting this page out of Quimby Mouse and framing it. It seemed to encapsulate the fierce push-pull of our desire for each other. I am loath to mutilate a book, but since I found Quimby again, I’m reconsidering.

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