Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Love Means Having To Pay For It....Literally

For the last thirty-eight years I have held a grudge against someone who I have never met and never will, because I just read that he died. Who is the person who I will forever hold in contempt? It was Erich Segal, the author of the sappiest novel in the world “Love Story” and the man responsible for putting the phrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” into American pop culture. (He should not have had such a full life – someone should have bitch slapped him then and there after making such a dumb statement.) Depending on what obit you read, Segal died of a heart attack in London on Sunday at the age of 72 or after a long struggle with Parkinson ’s disease, but as far as I’m concerned he was dead in 1972 because of that damn book.

For a minute, step with into Mr. Peabody’s Way Back machine and let me take you back to the early 70s when the book “Love Story” was published. There was no such thing as cable television with a Lifetime channel – a place where “Love Story” would fit right in – you just had this critically panned but incredibly successful novel. You literally could not go anywhere without seeing someone (mostly women) reading it, and even those who never read it knows that the twenty-five year old girl in the story dies in the end. The book was an all assault on commercial pop culture that was quickly followed by the release of the movie starring Ryan O’ Neal and Ali MacGraw.

I was in high school at Flint Northern during the period when the book and the movie “Love Story” were released and I guarantee you that this was one of those books and movies that I would not have anything to do with. Back in the 70s, I was reading things like Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book”, Alex Haley’s “The Autobiography of Malcom X” and Eldridge Cleaver’s “Soul On Ice”. I was worried about getting drafted and sent to Vietnam right out of high school – so I was also reading books and pamphlets on applying for of conscious objector status should Uncle Sam want me. I had no desire whatsoever to waste my time with something like “Love Story”, plus let’s be real, a guy would be branded “a pussy” if someone were to catch them reading such a book.

Fast forward to June of 1972 and it’s time to graduate. I’m called down to the school office one morning for a meeting and I’m told that they won’t allow me to graduate unless I pay for a book that they said I checked out of the school’s library. Well, I never checked out any books from the school library – the books that I wanted to read I usually purchased them – so couldn't figure out where they had me with some overdue book. I explained that I never checked out anything from the library and they said that I did and that I wouldn't graduate unless I brought the book back in or that I pay (the full hardcover retail price) to replace it. What was the book in question? It was “Love Story” and needless to say -- I was pissed!

Someone, and I don’t know who, checked out “Love Story” from the school library in my name and never brought it back. Who would do something like that to me? Knowing that someone checked out “Love Story” and used my name is just about as damning to one’s reputation as reading the god-damn book and I curse Erich Segal for having written the damn thing. It cost me something like twelve dollars to replace the book and with a receipt that I paid for the book I was allowed to graduate.

Rest in peace, Mr. Segal, but remember I’m gonna come after you in the afterlife. You can expect to be strong armed for the twelve bucks that I had to pay because of your lousy book. I know its been thirty-eight years…but I hold grudges.

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