The Book Swap Debacle

For years I've scanned the Life section of the local newspaper, trying to find interesting things to do and see.

Because of this we've been to some really interesting events and had a lot of fun.

But the downside is that sometimes the newspaper article can be a little misleading and we go expecting one thing and find something totally different.

One of the most memorable events I found was the Blue Water Bay Book Swap.

According to the newspaper, Blue Water Bay would be having a "large" book swap with hard and soft cover books of all kinds. New and used, all of the books were available for trade, refreshments were to be served and everyone was welcome.

We're avid readers so the idea of a book swap sounded really good.

I told the Island King's Uncle Kris about it and he wanted to go too so we all spent a few days rounding up our old books, excited at the prospect of trading them for some new material.

The swap was to be held on a Saturday and we were planning to spend that day at Tower Camp so we thought we'd go to the swap and then drive on up to the woods when we finished.

Because Tower Camp is so primitive I knew we'd be dressed for the woods and not a "people gathering" but I didn't think much about it because I thought there'd be so many other people at the swap that no one would really notice us.

As we pulled out of the driveway that morning I had visions of browsing table after table of books, coffee and a donut in hand, finding all kinds of treasures to read in the woods.

Blue Water Bay is a large community on the north side of Choctawhatchee Bay and even though the newspaper had not given a specific location I assumed there would be signs leading to the event.

We got to the entrance and there were no signs.

We followed the main road and ended up at the big club house on the Bay.

Still not a sign in sight.

I was positive I had the date right so we all piled out of the car and into the club house.

Which was filled with the Saturday morning breakfast, golf and tennis crowd.

The man at the front desk looked us up and down and with a curl to his lip asked if he could help us.

I told him about article in the paper and asked where they were holding the book swap.

He looked confused and told us that they have a book swap program through the club but he didn't know anything about the article in the paper.

By now, people behind us were waiting to be seated so he had a waiter show us to the "book room."

An obvious case of passing the buck but as long as we were en route to the book swap I didn't care.

So off we went. Right through the middle of the dining room, winding our way around tables filled with people.

People who were staring at us with their mouths hanging open.

I knew we'd look a little out of place but I had no idea just how much so.

There we were, six of us. Three kids in their most beat up, doesn't matter what you do to them in the woods clothes, the Island King and I wearing beat up old cammo pants, gun belts - sans guns (they were left in the car) big knives tucked in our boots, and scraggly shirts for bushwhacking our way to a creek we'd planned on visiting later.

And there was Uncle Kris. At 6'2" tall and 250 pounds Big Kris was an imposing sight on a good day but today he was dressed for the woods. Jeans, stained shirt and a huge leather hat with raccoon tale hanging from the back.

Carrying a large duffel bag filled with the books we'd brought to trade.

And did I mention the knife the size of Texas tucked in his belt? That really got a lot of looks.

We get to the other side of the dining room and the waiter opens the door to a small room. No bigger than a small walk-in closet.

The waiter flipped on a light and there on the back wall was a shelf with 3 beat up old paperback books.

And nothing else.

We were standing there wondering what was going on when an executive type in a suit came rushing up. And he did not look pleased.

"Could he help us? Did we realize that this was a private club?"

Which wasn't really the best way to handle the situation.

I pulled the newspaper clipping out of my pocket and told him that we were there for the book swap.

He read the paper and then looked like his head was going to explode.

He got on his little walkie talkie and had a short conversation with some guy named Mike. Mike was to meet him in his office immediately.

I felt a little bad for what was surely about to happen to Mike.

He then pointed to the 3 books on the shelf and asked us to swap what we wanted as quickly as possible because we were disrupting the dining room.

His being so rude turned out to be a huge mistake.

Big Kris smiled real nice at him and said that he didn't think we'd be interested in trading any books so we'd be glad to leave.

He turned and started back through the dining room at a snail's pace. We were behind him and as we got to the 2nd table he stopped, reached over the people sitting there and picked up a basket of croissants.

Kris had this deep, booming voice and when he spoke everyone in the dining room could hear him.

He handed each of the kids a croissant, saying "The newspaper said there would be refreshments and these look right tasty."

By now the executive was having a full blown, smoke coming out of his ears, head about to explode attack, which sent me into almost hysterical laughter.

There we were, standing in the middle of the dining room, eating those people's croissants, the exec looking like he needed an ambulance and me laughing like a hyena.

Which prompted Big Kris to explain to the entire room what was happening.

He told them about the newspaper and that he was sorry we were interrupting their breakfast but that we'd been lured here by an article advertising a large book sale only to find 3 paperbacks on a shelf in a closet.

The reaction of the people in the dining room was a mix between amusement and shock at the sight of a bunch of hooligans eating pilfered croissants.

Slowly we made our way to the door and as we were about to step outside Kris stopped, looked at the exec and said "If you'd been a little nicer about your mistake I wouldn't have felt the need to embarrass you." Then he winked at the man and said "Just something to think about."

Obviously we didn't get any books to read but we did go on to spend the day in the woods.

To this day I still laugh when I think of those people in the dining room staring at us.

And the croissants were a little on the heavy side.