1) On the subway, sitting across from me was a young woman in a tanktop with "Costa Rica: Nothing Artificial" emblazoned across her bosom. I thought, "Except your implants."
2) Another young woman on the subway, wearing a sundress patterned with elves and elvish fairy women. She wore a jeweled pendant that appeared to come from some science fiction fantasy franchise.
3) That rare, beautiful moment when you find exactly what you're looking for on the very first shelf you see.
4) Walking through the Common, encountering a choir of Mennonites singing a gentle, harmonious hymn. Behind the conductor, cross-legged on the grass, sat a woman oddly waving her arms to the music. I thought of the last words of the 8th Duke of Chalfont: "It's quite clear that you are insane. Give me that gun at once!" I can still hear that sweet hymn now, something about finding the City of Zion.
Try though I might, any time I exit M***'s from the back I'm irresistibly pulled to West Street to B****** Book S***, because it's nearby, and because I love books, and because I love a bargain. One begins by browsing the rolling racks outside, today notable for a strong scent of chamomile tea from an unknown source. (At least I hope it was chamomile tea . . . ) Browsing, I noticed themes (which are not always present when browsing in a used bookstore): Judaism, Venice, the Clintons, English history. Also figures in whom I tend not to take a great interest because so many other people do: Emily Dickinson, Oscar Wilde, Stephen Tennant.
A couple of young men in tanktops with heavy wheeled suitcases were also browsing, and seemed to find a lot of gigantic coffee table books. I joked with them "You may regret those when you get on the train!" "But we have our car . . ." came the friendly but distinctly dismissive reply. #backoffoldman
Because I am who I am, and because I write about what I write about, the word "dowager" tends to attract my attention, so I found this on one of the dollar carts:
Because we enjoy Perry Mason in my family, and I've already read several of Gardner's books, I know I'll enjoy this one.
Moving indoors, I was reminded (as I am increasingly) that the more I visit used bookstores, the more likely I am to find a) books I already own and b) books I no longer own and don't need to reacquire. But I did find a couple titles to return for at a later date.
My real interest in President Benjamin Harrison is that his second wife (a cousin of his wife's) was Mary Scott Lord Dimmick. You can imagine my excitement as a third-grader discovering that bit of information in the encyclopedia! Leafing through this biography, turns out she was known as "Mame." Love it.
Because Venice. Note also the book about Casanova in the back. I've read a biography of him, and after the amorous glamor of his early life, he spent a querulous, unhappy retirement as some duke's librarian. I made up a bit of doggerel:
First he waxed to the beat of his lance,
Then he just waxed the seat of his pants.
Noticing books on Alicia Markova and the Russian Revolution, it was also interesting to consider how I've kind of had my fill of topics that used to absorb me, like the Ballets Russes (1980s), the Romanovs (late 1990s), and even the Titanic (perpetually since 1977) . I'm still very interested, of course, but I'm not compelled to seek out books on those topics these days.
All in all, I consider myself fortunate to have purchased only two books. The Devil could easily empty my purse here.