Off the rails at a brick & mortar bookstore

Enough with the essays!  Here is something in true blog style —

Stopped in Barnes and Noble today, bringing with me my mocha from the adjoining Starbuck’s.   Some might say this constituted a corporate morning, and point taken.  But, I like the consistency of Starbuck’s drinks, and I want to do my part to keep brick and mortar bookstores alive and well.

Settling down in an easy chair, I set my mocha on the low table, along with the books and magazines I had snagged along the way from the door to this cozy retreat.  As I shoved aside the tumbling stack of books previously abandoned on the table, the titles caught my eye: When Anger Hurts, The Anger Management Workbook, Anger Control Workbook, and Taking Charge of Anger.

“Wow,” I thought to myself. “Sure hope this person doesn’t return in a rage at me for taking his/her seat!”   I wondered where this person was now and whether any of these books had helped with the issue at hand. I decided to take notes on these titles for this blog, and worked my way down the stack.  The last three titles were The Dance of Anger, Loving Him Without Using You, How to Get Your Lover Back, and Getting Back Together.   Ahh.   The story was coming into focus.  The angry and hurt person was a woman, and her goal was to get her boyfriend, significant other, or spouse back. Although happily married myself, I could feel her pain.  My younger years had certainly included bouts of relationship angst.

I leaned back in the easy chair and sipped on my mocha, grateful that I was feeling secure and happy on this particular morning.

Humbled, I turned my attention to the books and magazines I had gathered to peruse.  The first was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  After reading just the first pages, I knew this was a book I would buy.  I then dipped into Reason Magazine’s lead article: “Millennials Are Not Listening to You.” This cover story had caught my eye because I thought it might better help me understand a certain relative who, indeed, does not listen to me.  He’s not a millennial, but he is young and he has certainly tuned me out.  A recent conversation closed with the following exchange: He: “Um… why are you telling me this?”  Me:  “Because you asked.”  He: “I was looking for a yes or no.”  Me: “You don’t get a simple yes or no from me.  You should know that.”  He:  (No comment)  Me:  “And, just for the record, when I ask you a question, I do NOT want just a yes or no.”  End of so-called conversation.

I sipped on my mocha again.  My drug of choice.  And, turned to my next selection – a coffee table-type magazine called Daphne’s Diary. This British lifestyle magazine is full of Victorian illustrations, recipes, and cute little essays.   Brain candy.

While perusing these, I couldn’t help but overhear a loud nearby conversation between a bookseller and a customer.  The bookseller was saying, “Oh, I know how you feel.  The first time someone I knew died, I couldn’t believe it.  I was thinking, This is awful.  This can’t happen.  But now I have a more philosophical view of death.   What helped me was taking walks and just looking at … well, just looking at a tree, for example.  You don’t have to go out in the country.  There are trees everywhere.  Well, I’m just saying that helped me.”

The customer responded in a barely audible voice and was apparently even tearful.   I won’t bore you with the whole conversation, but it was clear that this bookseller was offering therapy for this woman.  And, at the close, the bookseller said, “Well, come back and see me and let me know how you’re doing.  It will get easier, just hang in there.”

So, brick and mortar stores can deliver therapy above and beyond the self help books, I concluded.

And, even my brief visit lifted my spirits.   On my way to the register to buy Gone Girl, a mocha-and-bookstore-high led me to grab a Little Golden Book from an end cap.  This was a book for adults called Everything I Need to Know I learned from A Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow. As I flipped through the illustrations and catch phrases, my eye was caught by that iconic picture of Tootle the train after he has left the tracks and is happily lollygagging in a lovely meadow.  He has a loopy smile on his face, a daisy chain around his neck, and is surrounded by gay butterflies.  I think what young readers were supposed to learn from Tootle was that he, and everyone else, should stay on the tracks.  But I’m pretty sure what stuck in our young minds was exactly what Muldrow, the author of this new book, had seized on: That leaving the tracks is actually great fun!  Indeed, Muldrow used this particular picture to illustrate the following word of advice:  FROLIC.  Indeed.  Hear, hear!



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