Embracing the Beast


Going through old files in our basement, I found a box with leftover Beauty and the Beast valentine cards. Before I tossed them (knowing my girls wouldn’t want them and that there weren’t enough for anyone else to give to a whole classroom), I held the few that were left, looked at the Disney characters, and remembered the movie.

Not long ago, the girls and I thought about Beauty and the Beast as we talked about Jerry Orbach’s varied talents. Known now for his role in NBC’s Law and Order, which I don’t watch, I appreciate Orbach’s versatility and admire him most for his accomplishments on Broadway. In addition, his great voice will, no doubt, hold record as the greatest singing candlestick of all time – Beast’s Lumiere with his familiar Be our guest request that brought the Busby Berkley-type extravaganza to Disney’s animated screen.

I’ll certainly never fully “grow up,” so it’s not surprising that this cartoon best depicts one of my dreams – to have a place for my books. The Beast’s castle contains a library made in a world that only the colorful brushes and boundless imaginations of animators can create.

Now, more than ever, I’m reminded that my overflowing and disorganized book collection screams for a better arrangement. The girls are reading books that I know I own, yet we check them out of the library because my copies are packed away in some anonymous box. I don’t have a place and don’t find the time to reclaim them for our use.

With black history month underway, Josie’s reading list includes Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, Richard Wright’s Native Son, and a half dozen other selections.

All of them I bought through the Mount Union book store some 30 years ago for a black studies class and they are all hidden beyond my immediate reach in an unkempt (and, probably, sadly damp) state. These volumes, and so many more, deserve warm, dry, quiet shelves that let me scan book-spines, see the titles I’ve collected, and use them.

I’m tempted to respond to Lumiere’s invitation. Why not take a moment to drift into the fantastic seclusion of the Beast’s castle? To me, his gift to his lady, his library, surpasses all common gifts of love. His furry, clawed front paw gestures to the panorama of books as he tells beautiful Belle they are hers. If I could be Belle for that moment, I would throw my caution to the winter winds that surround his castle and myself into his beastly arms.

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