I have become a “dealer” to my kids. A pusher. A peddler of ill repute. I serve up scandalous interactions, tortuous emotional dealings, torrid affairs, dangerous lies, inspirational heartbreakers and flat-out back-stabbing.
The worse it gets, the better [sometimes].
Yep, I am The Campus Dope Man. And the drug I push: books.
Indeed, once the cherubic naifs are hooked, I do all I can to serve the needs of these little fiends until they blossom into full blown addicts.
Addicts for a lifetime! (Or so I hope.)
The funny thing is, the younger I get them started, the better I feel about matters. Middle school playgrounds? I have no shame. Elementary school classrooms? Even better. Pre-school… don’t even get me going on how much I love to weave an entrancing spell over these unsuspecting youngsters, seeking to instill deep in their minds the idea that they need stories.
That they need literature.
That they need books even more than they need oxygen itself!
Hhhmmrraahh! Hhhmmrraahh! Hhhmmrraahh! I say, twisting my mustache. I am molding minds.
And my scheme, it is working! Kids each year come in my room at the oddest of hours – during lunch, before school, when they ought to be in goodness-knows-whose class asking me, pleading with me, begging me to feed their little habits.
“You started this,” they’ll say. And like any proud kingpin, I keep a face full of stone but on the inside, I just kinda laugh.
“Yeah, I did, baybee. Yeah, I did.”
See, around my campus, my students know “Mr. Alan’s got the hook-up on books.” Part of it is because I get free books sent to me all the time. (Perks of being a writer, folks. I mean butchers get meat and bankers get free money so why should my line of business be any different?) Of course, I buy books as well. Loads of them.
Matter of fact, I am the type of person that currently has 11 books by my bedside, 3 more at school, 2 in the car in case I am ever stuck waiting somewhere and still, if I see something I even think I might want to read at some point, I buy it.
Essentially, I can’t read all the books I possess. But, in a weird way (the kind of weird way I oughtta talk to my therapist about — item number 673 on the list for 2010) I very much find emotional comfort in being surrounded by books.
However, I do love to share.
Today, I shared 13 Reasons Why and I shared The Hunger Games. No extra credit. No bonus at the end of the quarter. No reprieve from the other work we are doing in English class. I just shared.
Sometimes I share the books I have written. Othertimes, I share the ARC’s that other publishers send to me for early preview before titles even get released. Essentially, I share and I share and I share.
Yet, no matter what, it keeps ’em coming back for more. That’s the rule of being a good dealer, right? First you give ’em a taste. A free sample of the good stuff. And then you tell them, “Don’t worry, this won’t hurt you. Go ‘head, I think you’ll like it.”
Soon enough, they even find themselves spending their own money on the product.
Indeed, I am the Campus Dealer. Hhhmmrraahh! Hhhmmrraahh! Hhhmmrraahh!
Twist mustache. Twist mustache. Twist mustache.