Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Yesterday at the Bookstore-Cafe

These days I have a bookstore, a cafe, and a bookstore-cafe.

The bookstore has mostly used books, with some new, and orders whatever you want for 20% off. It's right in the middle of Town Center, so it combines nicely with Friday night edamame or any-afternoon ice cream. You can get Samantha books, thrillers, or food memoirs, and the lovely owner recommended great books for my vacation--I wanted something that was neither stupid nor Serious, and he suggested books I've always meant to read, only my vacation was so lazy that I didn't even finish a book, so I can't blog them yet.

The cafe is in Another City, a five minute drive away. It is independent and slightly dark and has couches and small rickety tables and wireless and baristas of indeterminate sexuality with narrow shoulders and pouchy bellies under tight t-shirts with low-slung trousers. The pumpkin bread is delicious, and though it's noisy with clacking yuppies on the weekend, during the week it is perfect (right, Mom?).

But this is a post about yesterday at the bookstore-cafe. The bookstore-cafe is owned by its employees who opened it after the bookstore where they worked went out of business. It is clean and well-lighted and full of books you want to read. The cafe corner has Vietnamese rolls and thick vegan cookies and at least five kinds of scones a day that they refuse to label--perhaps to prevent discrimination, but it just makes more work for the people behind the counter who need to recite the day's list to every customer who asks. The bookstore-cafe is right by my office, and I go there for the kinds of meetings you can have over coffee at its awkwardly-placed tables, or to get some work done at the counter in front of the window (or to have cold drinks and Vietnamese rolls with my mom, right Mom?). Yesterday I went at the end of the afternoon to do some work and have a sandwich, because I hadn't eaten all day.

The first thing that happened was I think someone tried to pick me up. I sat down at the counter and opened up my work and my sandwich and started to work and eat. A few minutes later, out of nowhere, the young guy next to me observed that we were engaged in similar work and started asking questions about mine. This was odd because he was at least 15 years younger than me, and I was not feeling particularly babely: my front ends of hair were pulled back in a barrette, and I was wearing a sweater I consider matronly, though come to think of it, it is tight and low cut, but would you try to pick up an older woman with graying hair pulled back from her face in a barrette, and ruffles at her (low) neckline and elbows, who is eating a sandwich?

The thing is: I am quite happy to flirt at a party or a bar or a lake (in the summer we flirt at the lake, though that's with people we know), but yesterday afternoon I just wanted to work and eat my sandwich, but even though I liberally waved my wedding ring in his face, he kept looking at me wishingly and asking me questions and finally I had to abruptly end the conversation and turn definitively back to my work and my sandwich.

The second thing that happened was that after I finished my work and my sandwich, and brusquely returned my neighbor's wistful goodbye, I went to look at the new fiction table and discovered that knitting group books are the book club books of 2007. I loved Ann Hood's Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine, a zillion years ago, and I read an essay she wrote for some magazine about how knitting comforted her after her five-year-old daughter died, so of course I had to leaf through The Knitting Circle, her novel about a woman who is comforted by knitting after her five-year-old daughter dies. The only ethical thing one can say about such a book, I think, is that I hope it helped her to write it. Though I love knitting and books, I'm not quite sure what is gained from putting the two together. (OK, I just realized there is a huge problem with the previous statement, which I'm not going to get into, but the statement sounds good, so I'll leave it. However, feel free to disabuse me of the notion, so that I can eliminate the problem.)

No comments: