I had been waiting for the Big Book Sale at the main branch of the downtown library for three weeks - it was to be my first. The day finally came yesterday; I stared at the clock all morning. At precisely 1:00 p.m. I told the secretaries that I had a "meeting" at 2:00 o'clock, but could be reached by my cell phone. (I was dressed in jeans, a baggy sweater and running shoes, so I wasn't fooling anyone with my big lie.) Being a library book sale virgin, I wasn't certain whether checks or credit cards would be acceptable, so I stopped at my bank and got some cash. Can't go wrong with cash, right? I had been salivating over this event for so long; must not screw it up over such a minor detail. When I got to the library, I could see this was a HUGE "tad ah," and the closest parking spot I could find was 3 blocks away, down an alley, under an oak tree that was shedding pollen everywhere. I wasn't worried about the $25.00 I just spent on a car wash and hand polish. I was on my way! Although I had the foresight to bring two canvas shopping bags with me to haul away the loot, in my excitement I left them in the car and didn't realize it until I was standing in line. And what a line it was! A very old, slightly frail looking gent asked me, "Is this the book sale line, young lady?" Young lady! I love you, dear sir. This day is turning out so good. He and I stood next to a display celebrating the 100th birthday of the songwriter,Johnny Mercer - one of our hometown heros (Moon River, Skylark, Somethings Got To Give, Fools Rush In, Laura, and on and on). Pointing to the movie posters and sheet music, the old gent said loudly (old gents seem to often say things loudly) "They don't make movies like that anymore. They don't write songs like that anymore, either." "No, they don't," I said smiling. "Back then, you could understand the words. The words meant something back then." "Yes," I continued to smile. "The words they write now don't mean anything. You can't even sing the songs." I am thinking, "Skidamarink-a-dink-a-dink, Skidamarink-a-do, I love you." But I am saying, "No, sir, you certainly can't." The old gent was standing in a long line, waiting for 2:00 to come, because he still loved books. When at last we began to move, the old gent looked up at the clock and exclaimed, "What do you know, they opened the door one minute early!" Clearly, he was as anxious as I was. Later, I was to look up and see him carrying an armload of books to the cashier. He had found his treasures; I was happy.
When my turn came to enter the chaos of the book sale hall, I saw that books were piled on top of tables, in boxes under the tables, and on window sills, and I had no idea where to begin. There had apparently been some effort to place the books by categories: Cooking, Adult Fiction, YA Fiction, History, etc. But the signage was small and, to be honest, the crowds made it impossible to figure out where anything was. So, I just went to where the crowd propelled me and found myself standing at the table where the cookbooks were set up. What joy! Kismet! Nirvana! Right under my nose were three Julia Child cookbooks, and Beard on Bread by James Beard. I gathered them up in my arms - not easy since one is a huge volume - and allowed myself to get swept along once again in the tide...allowing fortune to land me at another table. And so it went for 45 minutes. Happily, one of the library sale volunteers handed me two plastic shopping bags to tote my books around (landfill be damned - this was an emergency) and I took them. I bought eleven books - all that would fit in the bags - feeling slightly disappointed that I'd left my canvas bags behind. Grand total for all eleven? $9.00. Here's what I got:
Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech (never heard of her, thought it looked good)
Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan (liked Bonesetters Daughter)
Snow by Orhan Pamuk (remembered one of the bloggers I read mentioned it)
Well Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George (no explanation necessary)
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (just picked up The Blind Assassin)
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers (love her)
Portrait of Dorian Gray (not wild about Wilde, but love this story)
The Way to Cook by Julia Child
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. II (so cool since I already have Vol. I)
Julia Child and More Company
Beard on Bread by James Beard (Baking bread is my therapy.)
Let's see. That's eleven, right? I am now a seasoned veteran of the Big Library Book Sale. Next time, I will begin training much earlier. Leg squats would definitely help. I could get down to the floor to look at books shoved under the tables, but getting up was...shall we say uninspiring...especially with an audience. Add in some bicep curls and a little endurance work - I'll be on my game -- I'll be ready -- I'll be the Beckham of the Big Book Sale.