Even after 35 years in the bookshop, I am still having a good time. By now it is as much a social venue as a commercial bookstore. People drop in to visit. Out-of-towners come in to revive the old friendship. Sometimes people even stop in to buy a book. And I stop talking long enough to write up your sale.
If you wander in, you are fair game. We discuss your shoes, your health, your occupation. A young man sitting opposite me at my desk with his purchase had an unkempt beard. “Your beard is a mess,” I berated him. “You have a fine face, great angles, the beard does you a disservice.” (You can get away with a lot when you are an “older” person – they are reluctant to kick you in the shins.) The next week this very handsome young man comes in and, by golly, yes, he shaved it all off. “I think you are right,” he says, “everyone tells me I look good, and, actually, I like seeing my face again.” I was flabbergasted.
There is something about a bookshop, I think, that puts you in a comfort level. People reveal problems with children, parents, mates, the job. And it’s not hands off here. I tell everyone who looks needy how to live his life.
Here’s a weird coincidence. After writing the above yesterday, a man came into the store and reminded me that he had stopped by about five years ago. After some small talk, he said, “I had to come in to thank you for your excellent advice.” I have no idea what my excellent advice had been, but he was beaming as though I surely remembered so I didn’t ask. Now he said he’s thinking of relocating out west. His father died, and left him and his three sisters a house in Montana.
There was a question mark in his voice, and I automatically fell into my role with my response. He considered, and slowly said, “That’s a Very Good Question.” This exchange followed several more times until I realized he had deliberately come in to ask for a new direction to his life. I just kept throwing questions at him until he could figure out what he wanted to do. Then, an obvious question.
I asked, ”What are your three sisters planning to do with this house you all just inherited? Maybe you should find out before you cross the country to move in?” Pause. He answered, “That’s a Very Good Question.” We left it at that.
I should add another line in gold onto my window: Consultation and Therapy Inside.