Goshen News, Goshen, IN

May 18, 2013

The Plain Side: Quad Hopper finds a bit of Utopia


— I have found my El Dorado, my  Shangri La, my Utopia. It’s in Mishawaka.

This is not an ad for Barnes & Noble book sellers. I am only relating what happened Saturday last.

My friend, Calvin, suggested a while back that a few of us would enjoy visiting this fair and happy land. So we planned a trip.

Calvin and Steven are on the van when they pick me up and we grab Mike on the way west. This completes the Quad Squad or Quad Hoppers or Fearsome Foursome. The name of our group hasn’t been decided yet. We four teachers meet every so often to trade insults and play games. Though we always dread it, we try to make it happen fairly regularly.

On the way to the bookstore, barbs fly about past games and games we plan to play when we return to Steven’s home after the outing tonight. We have some accomplished trash talkers as well as strategists and athletes in this group.

The colossal brick building with silver lettering across the front finally comes into view. Driver Vicky finds a good parking space and we plan to come out in almost three hours, at 8 p.m.

We enter the store. Alarm bells go off and the janitorial staff flocks around with mops and buckets to stem the growing flood of drool surrounding me. I have never seen so many books for sale in one place in my life.

Calvin points me in the right direction and leaves. The child is loose in the candy store. I begin selecting books. Shiny. New. Books. Books bursting with a wealth of interesting and useful and humorous information. They should have put me on a leash.

Soon I ask for a cart. The assistant gives me a basket. In a while, that is full and I begin carrying additional selections.

I choose a few children’s books, a few quote books, a few new thrillers, a few classics, some history books and a few brain-bender books. Then I find the games. Oh the games!

Mind Trap is there. I used to love trying to solve those when Miss Kegerreis read them to us in sixth grade. The games goes home with me too.

I never really do get finished. You don’t. You just stop. Or rather, your friend grabs you and steers you toward the check-out register. That’s what happened to me.

After paying for our purchases and loading them into the van, Vicky takes us across the street to Famous Dave’s Barbecue. Calvin recommended this stop too, and his judgement is sound again. Somehow the food here is just extra tasty. Delicious food goes down the hatch and a bit more trash talk bounces around the table. The stakes are rising on tonight’s games.

After a night of duking it out over the game table, the mental box score shows that Calvin, unfortunately, has asserted his dominance in the game of Settlers again along with a strong showing by Steven. Mike trounces us in a modified Rook game and I take two out of three in the game of Blurt. Go figure.

We will probably forget all that later and remember only the good times. We are blessed.

Back to the books. I eagerly anticipate diving into some of them at home and a few of the half-dozen or so I’ve gone through already have proven worthy. I was, though, disappointed to discover a lot of, uh, raunchy material in a few of the books. Those will end up being pitched. It would be difficult to feel good about having dirty jokes in my library. Had I exercised more discernment earlier, I would have saved a bit of money. Now I know.

Still, a lot of sound reading lies before me and my fingers are itching to get to it. So farewell, my friends, my new library awaits.

Loren Beachy is an auctioneer and elementary school teacher. He can be contacted by writing to 14047 Ind. 4, Goshen, IN 46528 or by calling 642-1180.