Things are returning to normal around the Book Fair. A lot of the things I had to tuck away out of sight are coming back to their usual places. (Not all of them; there’s always something which insists on remaining hidden until NEXT August.) People, utterly contrary to request—though not to expectation—are dropping off books. The Dashiell Hammett collectible was really appreciated, as was that massive load of early 19th century medical texts. I will say that the book with the huge engraved plates displaying different kinds of hernias was a heck of a thing to give a poor Book Fair manager at this particular time, but, as I say, it helps bring things back to normal.
But there is still unfinished business. We must pass out entirely imaginary awards to those of you who made Book Fair 2013 so memorable.
A wreath of paper poppies, signifying sleepy cluelessness, goes to the man who walked in one day, looked around the lobby, and asked, “Exhibits open?”
But a double wreath of even brighter paper poppies goes to the volunteer he asked, who replied, “I’m not sure. Go ask the guard at the desk.”
A wreath of gold for whoever chose the temperature for the weekend (too cool to go to the beach; too warm to sit inside and watch movies) but a wreath of goldenrod for whoever picked clouds for Saturday and Sunday.
A wreath of appleblossoms for each of those small children I saw reaching up to bring down more and more books to put on the piles of books their parents were stacking up. This is our “That Apple Didn’t Fall Far From the Tree” wreath.
And a wreath of roses with silver edges for those who stopped me to say you liked the blog. One of you worried that I had warned you not to do such a thing, but all I really asked was that you not expect me to be witty or clever in a time of crisis. To them of us as is writers, hearing that somebody’s actually reading the stuff if like a scent of roses.
Speaking of scents, a wreath of garlic bulbs WAY past their use date to all the people who asked, “When do you start accepting books again?” A double row is reserved for the man who asked if he could bring some in the Sunday afternoon of the sale.
A wreath of peaches, plums, and pears to all those outfits who fed the workers again this year. Tri-Star Catering, Occasions Chicago, Jewell Events Catering, Jordan Food of Distinction, Caffe Baci, Bistrot Zinc, food evolution, Connie’s Pizza, J&L Catering, Simply Elegant, and D’Absolut. A wreath of peaches, pears, plums, AND BANANAS to Whole Foods for feeding us several times, providing special shopping bags for our first night customers, and drawing the attention of their customers to our little book binge, with a similar wreath for Potash Brothers, whose bags once again toted a multitude of books.
A wreath of medicinal marijuana, in the hopes they’ll just get over it, to all the people who objected to the Show Biz category, including one who felt any category with Constantin Stanislavski in it ought to be called “Performing Arts” rather than anything so informal, and one of whom wanted to know how Leni Riefenstahl even got into something called “Show Biz”
A wreath of marigolds goes to the charities who came in on Monday to collect books to help their various and sundry causes, especially the Sheriff’s Department, which sent over a full crew and took a truckload of paperbacks for prison libraries (apparently there are lots of law books, but very little other reading in Cook County’s stone hotels)
A wreath of cracked CDs to the customers who wanted just the jackets of the albums they bought, and left behind the records (They’re vinyl; they’re not that heavy.)
A wreath of cracked 78s for the customer who wanted on Sunday to swap a record she bought Saturday because she got it home and just didn’t care for it. A double wreath for the volunteer who told her that was perfectly reasonable. (On the other hand, since Sunday was half-price day, she was really swapping a record she paid a dollar for for a record that would have cost fifty cents. I did not explain this to her; the transaction was already too complex.)
A wreath on general principle to the man who strolled in, said “Travel where it always is?”, and just went about his business. It’s these regulars who make our lives easier.
And, of course, a special garland of rose petals to the woman who dashed into Room 4 and cried, “You built a wall!” You didn’t buy our $4500 book to qualify as our favorite customer, but you are surely our most memorable.