“Hello, Monsieur…” She stood beside my café table, latte in hand, looking at my books and sign. “…Levin.”
“Bonjour…,” I said.
“…Lorelai,” she said.
Fiftyish, green baseball cap, shades, tie-dyed back pack on a luggage cart. I had seen stranger. “Wanna buy a book?”
Alas. She had spent her last $80 on a four-concert, no-service-charge package. Elvis Costello, Beck, Alice in Chains… I forget.
Popular culture trumps literature again.
She had not seen Alice in Chains in 20 years.
Faithful readers may recall the woman who had told Adele she was withholding judgment on “I Will Keep You Alive.”
“You and your husband are excellent writers,” she said, standing between the health club’s massage tables and the basket for the yoga mats.
“But…?” Adele said.
“But… I didn’t care for the frankness.”
“Can you give me an example?” Some people, Adele thought, like frankness.
A personal trainer and the young woman he was massaging smiled.
“I could have done without the sex.”
“There’s not a lot of sex.”
She turned back. “And the incontinence.”
“You and your husband wrote a book?” the young woman said. “What’s it about?”
“You mean, besides sex and incontinence?” Adele said.
Adele was talking with Sunshine, a buxom woman with dyed black hair. She and her husband, a commercial litigator, have belonged to the club for 30 years, but she spends half her time at a retreat in Taos. She held our book, and I thought, Oh, good, a sale.
The Ram Dass quote on the cover, Sunshine was saying, balanced the “Cardiovascular” in the below-the-colon portion of the title. The red lettering balanced the black. The spiritual, in other words, balanced the scientific. Both sought truth, but neither, in isolation, could find it. She had been talking to Adele for 10 minutes when I arrived and continued another 20. She discussed the concept of “journey.” The concept of “romance.” The “I” that would “keep” the “You” “Alive.” (It was only about this time that she realized Adele and I had written what she held.) Her process involved pauses during which movements of her arms seemed to search for words. It involved sharp, audible inhalations, like those I have been instructed to take when feeling dizzy upon getting up too quickly. The point, Sunshine said, was that there was no “I” that was not dependent upon or subservient to a greater power.
I explained from where our title derived. I did not argue the point though. I was enthralled. Her discourse was Sunshine’s excellence. I wondered what her conversations were like with her husband, whom I only knew from talking work-out routines and muscle cars.
“So would you like to buy a copy?” Adele said.
A silly question, she later realized. Sunshine already had it.
In other news…
1.) IWKYA has been acquired by its first library. The University of Illinois (Chicago) School of Health Sciences. (Circle Campus, I assumed. When I was in VISTA, I played basketball in its gym. So the mind associates.)
2.) Adele has steered a woman who reads many books to a neighborhood bookstore to buy ours, and I sent one as a gift to a friend who, while laboring under many disabilities, cares for a husband who is even more disabled. And we heard from another friend whose husband’s cardiac condition has disabled him for years. By page 50, she said, she had succumbed to PTSD.
I often wonder how people who have not been as lucky/blessed as Adele and I will react to our book. But, I thought, if you are a writer, you write what life brings you. You are not entirely responsible for how people react, and where some may find distress, others will find inspiration.
So far, more have mentioned the latter.