“Mama, do you think I will get a shoe?” Cleo asked as we were making our plans for the Muses parade. I had been told by so many people that the Muses parade was THEE parade that I certainly did not want to miss, so despite my apprehension of navigating around the city at night, without my husband, in an area unfamiliar to me, I knew that this was the one thing I needed to do if I did nothing else for Mardi Gras.
“I don’t know, baby, maybe!”
“Mom, you said baby and maybe and they rhyme. Are you trying to be a rapper?”
“Yes. I am MC Hurry-UP- Let’s-Get-Ready-to-go,” I said, giving Cleo the look I promised I would never give, the same look my mom gave me and the exact same look I had seen my Grandma Bea give my mom.
We put on her dress and her wings and she asked for some make up, a night to play dress up and receive gifts from the gods for her and a night to challenge myself and the fears I had developed for me.
We arrived a couple hours early, setting up a picinic, me reading Augsten Burroughs, her reading Captain Crankypants or Underpants or whatever it is that she devours and laughs and tries to mock the pictures of. She spread out on the blanket, her head on my lap, me caressing her hair, her looking up at me and smiling. A Kodak pictures in our mind that we never will forget.
It was finally time for the parade to start and she took it all in, waiting and waiting. She caught bead after bead, refusing to place some on her neck, partly due to being weighed down and partly due to wanting to share with her mom. It was our night, My Girls’ Night, and I was spending it with one of my favorite girls.
The parade came to an abrupt stop and we sat down, waiting to see what had happened. We had struck up conversations with the people next to us, an older couple visiting from Michigan. We talked about the Mid-West, about New Orleans, and about the transition of moving down here. They chatted with Cleo about books and art. After forty-five minutes and the temp dropping, we decided to head home. The parade was still stopped with no start in sight. We walked the half block to the parades beginning intersection when we saw movement, so we quickly ran back to our spot, and thankfully the Michigan couple welcomed us in, vowing for our previous parade placement when a couple of college kids became upset that they were going to have to compete with a child for beads.
Cleo held her sign up high as each float passed by.
One of the women on the top of one float pointed at Cleo, making eye contact with me, and tossed down to me the coveted Muses prize, a hand decorated shoe. These shoes are hot commodities, with women of all ages holding signs asking for the shoes to be gifted by a generous rider. Cleo’s eyes lit up bright, she gave me a thumbs up, and screamed, “YES!”
“Mama, we can go home now! I got a shoe!!!” she said, jumping up and down.
“Let’s watch the rest of the parade and then we will go home, Ok?”
We repeated the same routine as each float passed by. Cleo received a few stuffed animals, which made her happy since next to just about anything, stuffed animals are her favoritest thing in the world. She has a trunk full of Bratz dolls that go unplayed with, but her stuffed animals have homes made from cardboard boxes with Cleo’s artistic flair added.
And then another lady signaled to me. Another shoe, this one orange in color – Cleo’s new favorite color.
More beads. More stuffed animals. More smiles. More laughs.
“Does she have an octo yet?” asked the little boy near us.
“No, she doesn’t.”
“She can have this, “he said, handing it to her, causing both of them to laugh, smile, and blush.
And at last, the last float of the parade. Cleo did her same routine, jumping up and down, holding up her sign, screaming, “Throw me something Missus!”
The eye contact came. Along with another shoe. The light in Cleo’s eyes was so bright. In that moment, she was so happy. The difficulties that she faced this past year were erased all she felt was pure joy. Mama’s heart was smiling.
“I need to make sure I bring one of my shoes to Miss Elizabeth,” Cleo said.
And that did it. In the middle of the lights and the crowd and the Mardi Gras joyfulness, I broke down in tears, looking at my daughter, with such a big heart and so considerate of others. That’s my girl.
The next day, we took the shoe that Cleo picked out for Miss Elizabeth over to her bookshop. We took the other shoe to Cleo’s Miss Ellen, the woman who has worked miracles in Cleo’s life. The remaining shoe is proudly displayed on her bookshelf, so she “never forgets our best date out”, next to her Octo and her Elvis scarf she was pinned with by one of the motor scootering Elvi.
This is the Mardi Gras I chose to remember. This is the Mardi Gras that should be reported on NBC, ABC, and whichever other national channel that wants to mar not only Mardi Gras, but New Orleans – a city that is trying to do the best that it can with what it has. A city that care may have forgotten, but not a city that has forgotten to care.
This afternoon at 3:30, my family packed up the car and headed to Magazine St. to park the car and have a picnic while we waited for that night’s festivities to begin. This is our first Mardi Gras and. unfortunately, my husband has to work for much of Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, so this was really our only chance to spend Mardi Gras together as a family. It was one of those special days that create memories that you will always carry with you, sharing the story with your children’s children, and with anyone else that will lend you an ear to listen.
Cleo and I spread our blanket out, brought out books we were reading, and spend our time basking in the beautiful February New Orleans sun, watching as preparation for the festivies began. People walked passed us, wishing us a Happy Mardi Gras, and police officers made small talk as they were preparing to take their stations for the parade. We watched as people made their way up Magazine Street, returning to their homes from work or driving to meet up with friends to partake in the Mardi Gras celeration together. My husband wandered around Magazine Street, looking for a Daquari chain for me, with no such luck.
People next to us, a man named John, was up from Belle Chase with his two boys, Logan and Joshua. Cleo joined the two in a game of catch. He offered made small talk, shared his experiences of living in Southern Louisiana his whole life. Emily met another little girl and they played sidewalk games together, dancing around the cracks that are infamous in the New Orleans sidewalks and playing an impromptu game of hop scotch without the traditional number grid. The parade began and we watched in anticipation, Cleo holding up her sign declaring herself a novice minion of the Krewe D’ Etat, hoping to get something that lit up the night sky in alternating flashes of light.
As D’Etat reached their mid-parade point, we met a couple named Karen and Dave, who split their time between Colorado and Louisiana. Dave and Karen split their time between Louisiana and Colorado. We shared with them that it was our first Mardi Gras, told them about moving from Wisconsin to New Orleans, and talked about Cleo. Karen and Dave were so full of life, welcoming us into their Mardi Gras experience. Karen held up Cleo’s sign that declared it was her first Mardi Gras. As the floats passed by, we would make as much noise as possible and before you knew it, Cleo had learned the coordination needed to catch the beads. Dave gave Cleo some beads, telling her that if a boy gives you beads, you need to give him a kiss. Cleo got a kick out of that, and gave Dave a kiss on the cheek.
During our time at the parade with Karen and Dave, I forgot about how much pain I was in earlier in the day. I forgot about everything I was worried about just a few hours earlier. I forgot about what I was doing this time last year and just how difficult the year had been, one plagued with disturbing revelations, familial drama, and the lethal combination of worry and stress. Karen and Dave showed us what being a New Orleanian really is about. They laughed, they smiled, they enjoyed life. They didn’t just enjoy life, they really lived life. Their kindness, not only to Cleo, but to The Viking and I, was unbelievable. I felt so fortunate, so lucky, to have had this experience – an experience that came after dealing with rudeness and greediness – to instill in our whole family is that looking out for one another is what New Orleanians do, more so here than any other place, because the people here in New Orleans have learned what the important things are, and how to be grateful for the blessings they have, not angry about those things that they don’t.
The Viking works the rest of Mardi Gras. Today we are taking a much needed break away from the parades and festivites. Tomorrow we may meet up with Dave and Karen again. Whether we do or not, they really presented us with an amazing gift. Thank you, Dave and Karen, for showing us what carnival season really is about.
“What can I do to help?” my husband asks me, seeing exactly how much pain I am in when I attempt to walk from the couch that I have made my home to the bathroom, five feet away.
“Take me out back and put me out of my misery, ” I respond, thinking of how we took care of ailing livestock back on the farm in Wisconsin.
“There is nothing you can do, honey, just help me.”
Unfortunately, in my life, this exchange takes place quite frequently. Sometimes it takes place daily, sometimes weekly, but it is a constant in my life.
For me, it is apart of living with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is so much apart of my life that I have a nickname for her, Fibro, just like I call my husband Papa Bear or my daughter Pumkin or Peaches or Baby Girl. I don’t have the affection for Fibro like I do for my family, but the thing it has in common is that it is just as much apart of me as they are – it is always here, even when I wish it would go visit somewhere else.
Fibromyalgia affects different people differently. For me, when Fibro is at full flare up, I am essentially immobile. To walk from the couch that becomes my marked territory during these days to the bathroom, a whole ten feet, tears are in my eyes and I am crying because it hurts to even walk. This isn’t an exaggeration. Every step I take causes a shooting, burning, and electric pain to course up my legs from the time that my foot lands on the floor to take a step until I attempt the next step with my other foot.
There have been times when I have walked and my legs completely give out from under me and I fall. This is especially inconvenient when you are out in public and you fall down hard on the cement. This also leads to a plethora of fire trucks and EMS trucks being dispatched to your location, to make sure you are ok, and you have to look at them, humiliation on your face, and tell them that you are just fine, that your legs just gave out for a minute and you will be ok.
For me, Fibro means planning my days and activites on a day-to-day basis — needing to know exactly how i am going to feel that day. It also means not being able to work outside of the home — I obviously can’t get a labor job (although I LOVE labor jobs), sitting for extended period of times causes my tail bone great pain, sometimes my arms hurt so much that lifting them is nearly impossibly, and then there is that whole walking thing. This means that our family’s survival lays firmly on the hands of my husband, who although he has a law degree, hasn’t been able to find a regular job. So, on top of the pain that I feel, I have a whole hell of a lot of guilt, too.
Aside from the pain with my legs and hips, it is rare day when I am not plagued with a headache. I pop Advil and Aleve like it is candy. I lay down at night and I can feel my head throb. At times I ask my husband if he thinks that I have a brain tumor or if you thinks the thing that will get me is a brain aneurysm. I know it is all apart of the Fibro, but I worry. A. Lot. I also experience non-cardiac chest pain, which is good when you want to go out and live a normal life with your girlfriends. The looks you get are horrifying, though you know they aren’t horrified by you, but worried about what this means and what they should do.
I am thirty-two years old. I should be going hiking. I should be out wandering around this city.
Instead, I am living in pain almost every single day. And nothing makes the pain go away, it just fades into the background and pops up at the most unappropriate times.
Oh, and if my words get confused, or I am having difficulty understanding something that you say, it isn’t because I am a thick person. It’s because “the fog” and memory loss comes with Fibro too.
I went to the Krewe of Muses parade last night with Cleo. I had been told by a variety of people that this was THEE parade to go to and I would love it. All day, I rested, suffering from foot and leg pain, hoping that staying off my feet and taking a nap may dull it just enough. I forced my body to go, even though it was begging to just stay at home. A few hours later, after I arrived safely home, I could hardly walk. The pain was horrible. And here I am, trying to get the pain to a level that I can do it all over again tonight for the two parades rolling. Tonight, luckily, my husband is home so I won’t be doing this all on my own. Thank. God.
It’s hard, being 32 and experiencing this level of pain. It’s harder being a mom and not being able to take my daughter to do everything I want to because I am afraid of what will happen or the pain is just to much or my husband happens to be working that day. It’s hard not beating yourself up. We would be in a much better place financially if I didn’t have Fibro. We would have a much more active life. It’s hard not thinking that your husband deserves much more than a woman that is broken, him having to play caregiver some days.
A day with fibromyalgia is not a fun day. But it is a day. And at least I have one more day. Alone or not, I have one more day.
I do not have a green thumb. I don’t. I am not exaggerating.
On a spectrum of colors, my thumb is around pitch black.
My un-green-thumbness started the day after I graduated from high school. As I packed up my car for the big city (a college town of 60,000) I was given my first house plant by the wife of one of the local church leaders.
I thought it was cool, one of the many firsts I was about to experience (You know those firsts: First time you realized paying your own rent and trying to go to work and school was difficult, the first time you saw a mouse in our house and didn’t know what to do, the first time you realized that Ramon Noodles, if eaten in the proper amount, could be *potentially* filling, and the first time you get stuck with a suck-butt roommate) When I got to MY home, I placed the flower in the window, and smiled. I was so grown up, I had my first plant and everything.
Then it died. Three days later.
Since then, it has been a continuous cycle of plant death – no matter where I put them, what I feed them, how much I water them, the kind of soil they are transplanted into – they all die. No only am I able to kill your average houseplant, I am able to kill silk flowers too. Apparently you aren’t suppose to put silk flowers in the washer when they get dusty. Who knew!
It really is a fortunate thing that I have never had to go to a long-term inpatient substance abuse program, as many tell you before you are ready for a relationship, you must keep a plant alive for a year. After that, you move onto a pet for a year. Then, if plant and dog survive, you can have a human.I would never have a human. Hell, I wouldn’t even graduate to hamster.
So, given my history, why in the hell would I decide it may be a good idea to start a garden? Well, maybe since it is veg and a garden and outside, there is an advantage to survival, mainly being not in the same house with me. At any rate, we have a HUGE backyard that we share with our neighbor to the left and to the right. No one uses the backyard except my kids and that is only when it is cool enough, dragon flies are not out, and there are no lizards (so, pretty much never in New Orleans), so I decided to turn the very back plot into a garden.
I don’t have a clue as to what I am doing. Seriously, I don’t.
But, I am determined to have my damn garden and feed my family veg that I grew on my own , dang it! If Caroline on Little House on the Prairie can save the grain crop and make flour while Charles is breaking rock by hand in another town, I can grow a damn string bean.
Now…. where to start?
Music For the Day: Jim Croce
I remember the day that my husband and I loaded up our car and moved South. Both of us had been entangled in really bad marriages previous to one another – his dealing with a manipulative gold digger – mine dealing with an abusive control freak. His ended years before mine did, mine ended soon after my mother died, when I fled my former family home with nothing but a garbage bag with clothes in it, staying from couch-to-couch for a few weeks here and there, until I found a very, very modest apartment that I could afford on the minimum wage salary I was making, a consequence of being a stay-at-home mother for far too long to be taken seriously in the workforce.
We left Wisconsin on a hope and a dream, planning to reclaim our individual lives, planting the seed of what would become our collaborative life. We loaded our little car up with all those things we cherished – books, photos, music, a kick ass sound system, and our clothes – and hit the road for a twenty-two hour car ride, without stops, to land in New Orleans. This had been one of the most impulsive decisions I have made in my life, one necessary if I were to ever have peace from the demon that haunted my life for a decade. We stayed in a boarding house, not wanting to have an obligation to a lease for a house in a neighborhood that we knew nothing about, and shortly we moved into a house, furnishing it little-by-little, until we made it a home. When the children joined us, as planned, the rebuilding of our life was complete. A little piece of that was swept away, however, when it was ordered in Wisconsin that my youngest two would have to split time between New Orleans and Wisconsin with a father that placed a call once every few months, but who had an attorney (and his future father-in-law) that was not only of the state of Wisconsin family law committee, but also the Godfather to the Court Commissioners oldest child. Add into that equation the refusal to hear Louisiana-based testimony, and you have a situation bound to cause heartache.
We adjusted, though, my oldest daughter enjoying becoming an only child for most of the year. We got involved in her school. We laughed. We cried. We went through really hard times. We dealt with my health issues, an intrusive mother-in-law a few beads short of a full necklace, and my daughter’s Asperger Syndrome. In many ways, it has been an adventure, really starting out as a young couple, ready to conquer the world. In many ways we are still that young couple, with my husband searching for a job that utilizes his law degree, and me waiting patiently to take the Para Pro test to get a job in the RSD as a Teacher Assistant, and then, one day a teacher.
Those who know me tell me how strong I am, amazed at the things I have lived through to talk about, proud of holding my head up high, not allowing myself to be a victim or to make excuses, but accepting life for what it has been, and always holding onto hope. They have given me credit for my emotional strength, the quiet grace I hold myself in when things seem the darkest. They have admired that when life has demanded it, I have rallied and fought, winning in one way or another.
I’m not exactly sure of the answer so early this morning, as I ready my daughter to begin another day at public school, a school I wish she didn’t go to, but am thankful it is one of the better ones if she has to. I wonder if this is my failure or if it is a testament to my naive-nature, simply being happy with what I have and not longing for a whole lot more. It is an attitude instilled into me at a young age by my Irish father and my English mother, something they wanted to appear in their only American-born child, so she never forgot where she came from, so she never became like the children of their friends – spoiled and thankless, feeling entitled, forgetting the importance of family.
I sit here on the sidelines of my life this morning, after experiencing a truly traumatic event, and wonder if it is really that I am strong, or that I have done what I have needed to do to survive. Is it really that I am content with the little things, or am I merely complacent as to not have any hopes dashed to the floor when they are not realized by life, only little longings in my mind? Or perhaps I am simply thinking too much this morning, a direct consequence from experiencing a violation in the place I escaped with high hopes and dreams for a different life, a better life, a happier life and little to no sleep.
As I head over to NOLA.com, the following headines are the first thing I see:
Gulf Port Mayorfaces Katrina fraud Charges
St. Charles Parish Councilman in ethics bind over his day job
DA wants to try 14 year old as adult in French Quarter murder of Wendy Byrne
Letter offers clues to suicide death of family in Los Angeles; both parents had lost jobs
In a city like New Orleans, it is easy to feel despair. Despair is often felt by those without hope. With the crime rate, the education system, and the elected officials in office, it is easy to feel like right now, our city has no hope.
It made me think, though, doesn’t all this negativity just feed into more negativity? Doesn’t this despair just feed into more despair? Don’t we then begin to ride a carousel of self-loathing, pity, sadness, depression, and defeat? I know I have experienced it. I experienced it earlier this week when I questions whether or not I should continue to call New Orleans home, or if I should move and start life over again in a small community, a safe community, sacrificing what it is that drew me from Wisconsin to Louisiana in the first place.
It took simple comment from another good hearted New Orleanian to change my way of thinking. That comment was followed by many more. Those comments were followed my e-mails and a real feeling of community, seeing what good there is in this city, seeing what good can be done. It took a gesture, a card from a classroom of third graders, to melt away the bitterness that was starting to encase my heart.
New Orleans does have crime. It does have undesirables. It also has ineffective leaders. Do you know what else New Orleans has? It has heart. It has a city full of survivors. It has kindess. It has potential.
We all read enough bad things about New Orleans. It IS important to acknowledge them. It IS important to organize and change the city. It is also important to remember the beauty and the kindness that exists here.
I think that I am going to start a blog about the Good News in this city, not just the bad. A blog where the human spirit that encompasses what New Orleans really is can be revealed, appreciated, and acknowledged.
We may be the city that care forgot, but we are NOT the city that forgot to care.
Today is one of my favorite kind of days in New Orleans. The street is quiet, except for those walking home from church. My neighbor is in her yard, raking. The sky is overcast and the temperature is cool. And I sit on my porch, with a throw blanket and cup of coffee, breathing it all in. This is the New Orleans I love, the New Orleans were strangers wish you well as they pass by, where you can feel the history and the struggle and the triumph that this city has faced with grace, standing strong and standing tall.
There are about a million things that I should do today. Not thos fun things that adults are required to do, like laundry and dishes or mopping the floor, but those things can all wait until tomorrow. Today I am going to sit here, out on the porch, and curl up with a book, notebook, and pen, and just enjoy this.
For anyone interested, Blue Cypress Books on Oak St. is going to be having a book club meeting, their first, on February 1, 2009 . The book they are reading is Toni Morrison’s A Mercy. I am pretty dang excited about that! Y’all should take a stop down at Blue Cypress Books if you get a chance. I absolutely LOVE this book store and never leave empty handed. And you can trade books in for store credit, too! They just started a frequent reader program that awards a free book after the book mark is filled. LOVE IT.
I am also considering trying to form a writing group in the Carrolton/Oak St. area. If anyone would be interested please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I love New Orleans. The REAL New Orleans. The New Orleans that you don’t see on Girls Gone Wild Mardi Gras or any snapshot taking by a bunch of sorority girls on Spring Break hitting up Bourbon. I love the New Orleans that represents strength, pride, tradition. I like the New Orleans that fosters creativity, that holds the Audubon Park and Zoo, that makes up City Park. I love the shotgun houses, the slave shakes, and the fact that on Fat Tuesday, every single business is closed. I love the New Orleans that represents good people, hard working people, people who love and live.
Unfortunately for me, I don’t see much of that New Orleans right now. This is probably my own fault, still adjusting to life in the Big Easy, life away from my small pond in small Wisconsin where I was a rather big fish. It is really different. Very different. And, unfortunately, I haven’t fully allowed my roots to plant deeply in the ground, wander too far away from my home Uptown. And I allow myself to read nola.com – the comments, the stories, the articles – and it makes me very, very afraid. This isn’t to say New Orleans is a bad place to live. Again, I love New Orleans – it just scares the hell out of me.
Maybe it is because I haven’t allowed myself much time to really get to know New Orleans outside of my comfort zone, to meet people, to make friends, to get involved. Maybe it is becaus I don’t know how I get involved or where to even start. I would love to be able to feel comfortable going out for the night with my husband, hanging out at Carrollton Station or Maple Leaf Bar or adventuring out to some other part of town and taking in a play or seeing an art exhibit. What stops me from doing this? Well, I can count on my hand the number of people I know in this city,not related to my occupation, and I couldn’t ask any of these people to please watch my daughter for the night. It is a cycle for me, you see, and one that I find plenty of excuses to keep running in circles.
Maybe it has to do with being mugged at 4:00 in the afternoon, walking my daughter home from school on Carrollton Avenue. Or maybe it has to do with going to bed, looking out the window, and seeing someone on my porch, attempting to still my plastic lawn chairs that I bought for $4 each at Dollar General. Or maybe it is the comments made to me when I pick my daughter up from her publis school. Or maybe I am just not cut out to live in the city, any city. I have developed the coping skills for living in a city, especially this city. But I love this city. I really do.
Do you see the battle that is constantly raging inside of me?
No, let’s not.
Yes, I need to get out of here.
No, you don’t – this place is your home, remember how you felt driving into the city with your possessions packed in your car, excited?
But that was before the crime.
Crime is everywhere.
But not like this!
In some places it is worse, you don’t know what you are getting into.
Someone was murdered near my home.
Her son did it.
You can’t count on the police.
Avoid situations where you need the police.
People die in the jails here! People are beaten!
I can’t argue with that. That is very true.
It is like having two people inside my body- one going to the right, the other to the left – ripping me entirely in half. In some ways, it feels like being locked away in a prison, almost afraid to leave your home, no matter at what time of day.
Am I being over-dramatic?
That is entirely possible. It really is. I am from an unincorporated town in Wisconsin. I milked cows, fed chickens, and took care of rabbits growing up. We left our doors unlocked. We rode our bikes after dark. Our neighbors knew one another, looked out for one another, and cared when things happened.
So, New Orleans, how do I embrace you – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and fully bloom where I am planted, without the whispers in my ear of Hammond or Robert or Baton Rouge? How do I walk outside, not afraid, and explore?
Probably one step at a time. Courtwatchers. Maybe a book club. Perhaps starting a writing club. Something. Anything.
New Orleans, I so want to call you home, but at what cost?
My piece-of-mind? My daughter’s education?
I really don’t know the answer, but feel much better saying it out loud than keeping it buried inside.
My heart is in this city, but it is held prisoner by the thug mentality. In that respect, the fear of my safety and that of my child, they win.
They fucking win.
I love Wednesdays and Saturdays for one reason and one reason alone – the book sale the Latter Library on St. Charles Avenue.
I am like a little kid on Christmas morning, waiting anxiously for Mom and Dad to wake up so I can tear into my gifts, seeing what surprises are hidden inside each beautifully wrapped box. I look at the clock, tap my foot, look at the clock some more, try to wake my husband up, watch the clock, try to wake my husband up again, and as soon as it hits 9:45 am, I am waking him up with an edge in my voice, wanting to go see what treasures I can find. As soon as I get there, I follow the same routine. First I look in the books that have had movies made from them, then the award winning books, then to the children’s section, self-help section, and ending with the trade paperbacks. I never leave empty handed, leading to the problem of too many books, not enough space that I am trying to tackle in my house now. Everyone wins with the book sale: owners get rid of old books hanging around, I get new books to hang around, and the Friends of the Library raise money for things needed in rebuilding the library system. The way I look at it, the more I spend, the more I am helping, right?
It may seem like such a simple thing, a library book sale, but how many of you get to go to a library that was once the mansion of a silent film star? Yeah, I didn’t think so. *sticks tongue out*
There is only one thing that burst my bubble on library sale day. PMS, Whiney Child, Cranky Husband, More month than money, illness, rain, sleet, snow
Mr. Pseudo-Intellectual, Book – Hoarder.
You see, every time I go to the book sale, which is nearly every week, twice a week, Mr. Pseudo-Intellectual, Book -Hoarder gives me and my husband the stare down. He sees us coming, he clutches onto his books a little tighter, starts searching a little harder, and douchebags it up a little better. He has watched us, my husband and I, and has studied us. He knows that I look for classics, while my husband looks for first editions of local and regional writers. He knows that I have a fetish when it comes to old, hardcover books. He knows this because, we intimidate him. Why? We could potentionally scoop up something that he missed.
He will hover over those work the sale, watching as they bring new books out, making sure he is the first person to see what is newly in place to be sold. While he is busy preying, his books sit on the stairs, and he will not be afraid to let you know that “Those. Are. Spoke. For.” as he pushes up the glasses on his face that have slipped down. Normally, I browse around him, knowing what his gig is, preferring to simply not acknowledge him.
You see, Mr. Pseudo-Intellectual, Book Hoarder is too busy hovering and preying and hoarding to wander into the back rooms where the memoirs and the trade paperbacks call home. Me, well, I prefer the back areas – less people and more time to truly consider your choices! Today I came upon a heck of a find – Surprised By Joy by CS Lewis – Second Impression – from England – from 1955.
As we were in line, behind him, he noticed the book. My husband happened to be holding onto it, as I wanted him to check it out and my hands were full and books were close to falling out of them.
“Can I see that?” he stammered.
“Uh, yeah, sure man, ” my husband said, looking at me.
“Is that a first edition?” he asked, hovering over my husband, like a striped hyena hovering over a bird egg. I swear I saw him wipe the corner of his mouth, a direct result from the salivating he was doing at the thought of a first edition C.S Lewis book.
“No. It’s second impression, unfortunately.”
You could see the color drain from his face. He was clearly disappointed. Why, I am not sure, since my husband was holding onto the Holy Grail, clearly intending on bringing it home to the Promised Land.
“It is still quite a find, ” he said, almost like he was waiting for us to tell him to go ahead and take it.
“Honey, ready?” I said to my husband, waiting for that final book until our transaction could be complete and we could be on our way home to laze away the afternoon and read our new finds.
As we walked away, I looked at my husband, who was looking at me.
“Can you believe that guy?” my husband asked.
“No kidding, right? Every single week it is like this. You know, I really wish it would have been a first edition so I could have seen the look on his face as we walked away with the one that got away.”
Moral of the story: Don’t be a Mr. Pseudo-Intellectual, Book-Hoarding Type. There are enough books to go around for you to hock on E-Bay and for the rest of us to enjoy.