Thursday, November 3, 2011

Today's fortune: November 3, 2011

Today's fortune: You have an unusual equipment for success, use it properly.

Ain't nuthin' unusual about my equipment.

But seriously, folks.

Let me tell you how I properly used my equipment today (get your minds out of the gutter) to make my favorite collection grow a little larger. And, also how my equipment failed when I needed it most (MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER!).

First I'll set the scene. During my adult life, every time I've had the opportunity or the necessity to set my foot inside a mall, I've always said to myself, "Self, wouldn't it be great if they used the space a little better in these long, wide walkways? Maybe they could line them with tables filled with used books for sale."

Friends, my vision came true today. And now that I've already experienced it for myself, I don't mind promoting it for others: It's the Johnson County (KS) Library's BIG Fall Used Book Sale, which runs again tomorrow and Saturday at Metcalf South Shopping Center.

If you've never been to Metcalf South, just picture the type of mall you'll find in every medium-sized city in America, the kind of place that was the cat's pajamas in the late '80s, and the kind of place that's now largely vacant, except for a Sears on one end and a JC Penney on the other end and maybe an Orange Julius and a Foot Locker in between along with a whooooooole lot of long-dead retail space. Now picture every inch of that free space - including all the walkways and many of the vacant storefronts - filled with thousands upon thousands of books for sale.

I was overwhelmed by the abundance. It's the kind of book sale book lovers dream about. Except this was no dream.

Here's where my unusual equipment came into play: I have a nose for digging gold out of book sale rubble. Even though the books weren't arranged by author, I had a few writers, and in some cases certain books, I was looking for. One of the books on that list was "Freedomland," a recent best seller by Jonathan Franzen. His earlier book "The Corrections" was intriguing enough to make me want to read his follow-up.

So there I am, standing at a table of books, searching for hidden gems, when an old lady came and stood right next to me. She reached her craggy arm out in front of me - literally right in front of my eyes - and picked up a copy of "Freedomland."

I hadn't seen it. I'd been staring at the table for five minutes, and I hadn't seen it.

The old battleax stood there and flipped through the pages for a few minutes, and I thought she might set the book back down, but she didn't. She walked away with my goddamn book.

That's okay, though. "Freedomland" probably sucks. And, I am now the proud owner of the finest collection of books my six-fifty could buy. I bought some books-on-tape, including a biography of George Washington and a Patrick O'Brien seafaring yarn, which will make my commute more enjoyable. I also purchased a couple of Raymond Chandler mysteries (I haven't read any chandler, and I'm looking forward to it), a few other random novels, and Henry Miller's classic "Tropic of Cancer."

The Miller book is cool because I've been wanting to read it for a long time and also because it has a boob on the cover.

My bookshelves are now re-stocked, and my unusual equipment is still in one piece.

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