Three expressions of interest.
One was from a pianist, a man of about 70, who plays contemporary classical music with symphonies and chamber music groups. We planned a swap: one of his CDs for one of my books.
One was from an Asian-American woman, a first year grad student in psychology at UC. She is from Scranton, had gone to Penn, and lived a few blocks from where I grew up. She loved West Philadelphia for its abundance of good restaurants, which was news to me since it was not until I was in junior high that even chicken fried rice arrived within walking distance and, until I left, a drive to the Hot Shoppe at 69th Street was required for upscale dining. She wanted to buy a “Cheesesteak” but only through electronic transfers of funds that were beyond me, so she promised to return with cash.
The third tapped associations of a different kind. When my mother visited Berkeley, she never failed to remark about (a) the variety of produce in the supermarket (her father had sold vegetables from a horse-drawn wagon) and (b) how schleppily women dressed while walking about in public. Now the latest in eggplant does little for me, but while I sit in the café, I am alert to its patrons’ couture. Recently someone has been ordering to-go of whom my mother would have approved.
She has precisely cut, collar length black hair, which she compliments with black suits or accents with white sweaters above black slacks. Her coloring – and the exoticness of her appearance in this sweat-shirted, Yoga-pantsed surround – makes me think, Persian – perhaps royalty. The other day, while awaiting her order, she turned and picked up a book.
When a panhandler (male or female) compliments my boots or hat, I am appreciative – and usually good for a buck. But these are times when men – even old and likely harmless ones like me – must be circumspect. (I am half-certain one woman avoids the café due to her having read my mind when I complimented her sense of style, a style which, I must add, featured tresses falling below her waist, micro-mini-skirts, and black fish net stockings.
“Thank you,” the woman with my book said. “I work in I.T. and sometimes have conferences to attend. Otherwise, I’m in jeans.”
We chit-chatted. No, she did not write; but she read.
No, she did not wish to buy; maybe next time.
“Felicite,” she said – and extended a hand.
Adele nodded when I told her of this gesture. “She must be comfortable with who she is.”
In other news, it was time to order new business cards. I decided to sacrifice the name recognition of the “UTNE Reader” with its eye-catching but problematic testimonial (“Lurid and fascinating… loathsome… (and) compelling”) for the lesser known but cozier “Everyone… should read everything Bob Levin has ever written” by Jog the Blog.
All well and good, until I received 750 cards with my name spelled wrong. Not that this hadn’t happened before. My publisher did the same on the spine of my third book At least, this time I caught it and received replacements at no charge.
But you think Ernest Hemingweigh or Sol Bellow ever had this problem?