So there we were, enjoying a glorious vacation week at my aunt and uncle’s beach house, and my 12 year old twins were watching the latest episode of America’s Singing Horribly with People Who Don’t Have Any Talent.
(True parenting confession time: my kids are really into reality shows. If you know me and my husband, there’s no rational explanation for how this happened.)
Less than five minutes of this cacophony and I’d had more than enough. Unfortunately, my options were somewhat limited.
Now, my aunt and uncle have a nice beach house — but it’s a tad on the smaller side. Whatever goes on in the living room of the beach house is heard everywhere throughout the beach house. Reading was impossible because I couldn’t concentrate. Going outside for a walk was out of the question: It was thunderstorming. And I am among that pitiful percentage of the population who lacks an iPod or iPad or iAnything that would allow me to listen to music iAnytime.
But what I do own is a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh library card.
And a smartphone.*
And the OverDrive app conveniently located on that smartphone.
And a pair of headphones.
As the banal banter from the TV continued incessantly, I snuck into the bedroom, fluffed up the pillows on the bed and pressed that OverDrive app button on my phone. Clicked Get Books. Clicked Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Signed in. There, as if by magic (but because I’d told my phone I wanted it to remember it) was my library card number, right there from the last time I used it. I clicked on the nebulous person icon (who I could relate to pretty well at the moment) and brought up my Wish List.
My friends. These are the times that OverDrive Wish Lists are made for, and you’d better believe I was ever so grateful for having created it. This was no time for browsing as a bubble-headed bleached blonde was on the TV yammering about how the only way this incredible talent was going to get his Number One Wish and advance to the finals was if you, America, gotoyourphonesandmakeatollfreecallortweetusingthishashtag….
I was more interested in using my phone to download one of my Wish Listed audio books, and — holy cow! — I had plenty to choose from. As it turned out, of the numerous eBooks and audio books on my wish List, 131 of them were available right at that moment! Right there in the beach house! One hundred and thirty-one books!
(What can I say? I have a pretty extensive Wish List.)
I scrolled through the offerings. I was being pickier than I should have been, given my quasi-desperate circumstances and plethora of e-choices from the Library. I selected Jess Walter‘s short story collection We Live In Water (an appropriate if not ironic title, since we’d just spent the day by the ocean) and by the time I finished the heart-crushing first story “Anything Helps” (so incredibly good!) my kids were finished with their show and ready for bed.
Everybody in this family wins. Everybody gets a trophy. Especially when one can be 500 miles away from Pittsburgh on a barrier island located in a town too small to be listed on most maps and still be able to access the Library’s collection of books within seconds via one’s phone.
Now that’s my kind of reality show.
* Yes, I know I could very well listen to music on my phone (via the Library, too!) but that’s an Eleventh Stack post for another day.