I grew up in a neighborhood of all boys. My cousin, Sheila, lived three blocks north and my friend from school was one block south, but she only wanted to play indoors. Ferrell, my older brother, sometimes allowed me to tag along. But, more often than not, he would ditch me the first chance he could.
Until I was old and strong enough to make my own friends, I spent a lot of time alone. My mother used to tell everyone that I could entertain myself. It might be hours before she would hear a peep from me. She said, “Like the dog, I came around when it was supper time.”
What they did not know is I had a secret stash. It was a stack of 26 coloring books and a set of 64 Crayola crayons with a built in sharpener. I kept them on the bottom rung of my bookcase in a neat stack with my favorites hidden at the bottom and the least liked sitting on top. If friends came over, I could easily draw off the top and not feel bad about missing out on coloring those pages. The good stuff remained intact at the bottom.
Lo and behold, imagine my joy when I saw my first coloring book for adults! I was hunting around in a gift shop for a baby present two months ago when a set of magic markers in a Roy G. Biv arrangement caught my eyes. Looking closer, I saw two coloring books behind the markers. One was a collection of abstracts and the other animals. Both were intricately sliced into small shapes ready to be colored by expert hands, not fat children fingers.
I went home in a daze. It was mindboggling that I did not leave with the treasures. I thought about them overnight. Dreamed really. With Christmas a couple of days away I justified the purchase and headed back to the store only to find someone else had bought them.
I got back in the car and drove blindly to Southaven. Now, I was on a mission to get my mother some coloring books for Christmas. I had taken the treat off my plate and added it to hers since I was wasting fuel to get the goods. Also, I had to make a wise decision. My mother deserved a bottom of the stack coloring book, not a flimsy grocery store top layer one.
After hours of consulting the internet and flipping through about 15 different books, I settled on a champ. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford is the Mohammad Ali of coloring books. It has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and is being blamed for the adult coloring book phenomenon.
I handed it to my mother with the expectancy of great joy. She handed me a package shaped oddly enough like what I just handed her. We ripped open our packages to find color markers and the same Secret Garden in our hands. Who was the happier?