Saturday, November 13, 2010

The guy who trumps the backstory

Dear Reader -  So I was planning on blathering on to you about the bookstore's backstory, but I ran across another fella on my book-buying run today (okay, now it's yesterday - I started this last night, but got too sleepy) who deserves a mention.

You see, I have a few different places where I find my books - I do the whole estate route, I do auctions and library sales, and I suppose that I could do wholesalers, but I haven't - at least not yet. I'm not a snob - I'm totally open to filling some of my perceived blank spots with another book-buyer's help, but I've really enjoyed letting my books find me.

So what's been my primary mode of acquisition? Charity thrift stores.

I love them. I love that somebody just up and gave their stuff to them, hoping that it'd do somebody else some good. I love that the money that I put down on books (regardless of the variations in pricing from store to store) all goes back to help others. I love that I find things that I know I'd never think of on my own (a la, if I ordered from a wholesaler). And I love - love, love, LOVE - the people whom I find in my travels to them.

Like today, at the Salvation Army store about 30 minutes up the road that was my last stop for this book-buying extravaganza: There was this broader-framed 40ish woman who was shepherding around this itsty-bitsy 70ish woman with obvious infirmities. Anyone who's watched the latest Top Chef incarnation, Top Chef Just Desserts, knows Sylvia Weinstock by now . . .
  (And if you're playing catch-up, visit her website and blog to get a feel for what she's all about:

Anyhow, this woman was the spitting image of Sylvia, albeit with more constrained (but still very iconic) black glasses and a more weathered visage. But what made her truly memorable was her gait . . . and her boots. She wore these adorable mid-calf, fuzzy black boots with pom-pomed ties at the top. And she walked much like Tim Conway doing his old-dude bit on the Carol Burnett show, using one of the Salvation Army carts as a walker of sorts. But the best part was how blessedly respectful and kind - how humane - the 40ish woman was with her - goodness, how they were with each other. The broader-framed woman didn't condescend (and Sylvia II didn't bitch). The younger woman just rolled along with her in this constant and engaged manner, helping Sylvia's doppleganger do her thang at the small-town SA. I fell in love with them.

Oh, but not before I fell in love with the other fella who inspired this post. I fell in love with him a couple months back, actually - on August 24, my book-buying records tell me. That was the first time that I went to the thrift store where he's in charge of loving the books - and man, does he love him some books.

Both times that I've visited his store, I've found a cartful of very happy books. And both times that I've visited his store, he's made a point of coming by and cheering me on, making sure that I know how much he appreciates me appreciating his books and the fine work that he puts into displaying them. He's a shorter version of the Grisly Adams sorta archetype - fit, but full, full-bearded, but trimmed, with the requisite kind eyes.

It's obvious that he brings a rare kind of attention to what he does - a sort of attentiveness that most of us wouldn't normally think to associate with the thrift store world. I'll work on getting his own backstory (and perhaps even a picture) for you, if he's game.

In the end, buying books from him leaves me wanting to do right by them.  - Jen

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