I Can’t Touch It

In my top drawer, tucked between my friction proof underwear and a sea of black socks is a wad of bills the size of my fist. They’re all singles. The net worth of the entire roll is probably less than twenty bucks.

I love $1 bills.

My family thinks I’m a freak.,

I intentionally break tens and twenties to get smaller bills in change. My billfold swells up with money, but I often don’t have enough to pay for lunch. I ask for singles at the bank, constantly ask to change in fives for ones, and I never spend my singles unless I have to.

I relish these $1 bills because of my fear of the future -and no, it isn’t a fear of the zombie apocalypse or that Canada will turn hostile.

My fear is the same as that of Fahrenheit 451.

For those of you who haven’t read Ray Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451, it’s a story of a society that labels owning books as a crime. If the government discovers that you own books, the fire department (clever, right?) will break into your house and burn your books right in front of you.

Knowledge and information are not censored or oppressed in Bradbury’s dystopian world. Tradesmen learn their crafts from videotapes, which are much more effective than books.

Culture is not suppressed either. The main character (a fireman with doubts) lives in a house whose walls are covered with television screens blaring shows 24 hours a day.

It is a world where you can have anything a book would give to your soul: Love, Passion, Story, Knowledge, etc, but you can’t touch any of it.

The services rendered by books are not feared or hated; only the books themselves.

Books may not be that important anymore.

After all, my Kindle can hold more books than my house.

My phone has a crap ton of music. I can’t remember the last time I used a CD.

I can access infinite shows and movies with the effortless flick of a switch.

This makes me afraid.

I fear that one day all items of intangible worth (art, music, literature, money, etc.) will be just that: Intangible.

The future tends toward this direction.

We have access to more and more information and media while physically owning less and less. When was the last time you couldn’t watch a movie because you couldn’t find the disc? Or read a book because you didn’t own it? Or hadn’t heard a song because it had become scratched?

I don’t want to imagine a world where the only things that I physically own are my clothes and furniture.

So this is why I like things.

This is why I get heady in a bookstore, or nearly overcome with emotion when I play a vinyl record.

This is why I like stuff.

Seriously, I have a problem. I buy books and records, knowing that I may never read or listen to them. Help me. -BW

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