I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday for a quick boost. I always find that being among that many books increases my urgency to write. I needed new reading material (and… oops, did I get it). Also, I’m not ashamed to admit that I wanted to visit my book. I’m still getting face-out placement on the New Teen Reads shelf two months post-pub, which is kind of amazing. (See below).
I gathered up my finds and walked up to check out. The woman behind the desk proffered the usual pleasantries. I slid my books over to her and she scanned the first one.
That’s when the weird thing happened. She stopped with the second one in her hand, moving through molasses. She gazed at me. Lovingly. Maybe a little confused. Her eyes seemed to go a bit out of focus. Just stared. I smiled back awkwardly. Then, when it got too excruciating to hold her gaze I shifted mine vaguely out in the direction of the parking lot. Or what would have been the parking lot if my x-ray vision was working.
When I looked back what felt like a full ten minutes later, fake smile straining my face, she was still staring. Book in midair. She looked in my face and then her eyes flitted a little lower. Like she’d finally spotted the love of her life. Just delighted. Or like blue monkeys were flying out of my nose and perching on my chest and she was amazed. God, was she staring at my chest?! I mean, it’s quite a thing to stare at, but I had it covered up with an old t-shirt I use for gardening. It couldn’t be that. But still she lingered. It took so long I considered saying something. Anything to stop the cringe-worthy eternity.
And then she laughed. “Oh! Ain’t that the truth! I love that.”
I looked down. Oh. It has a thought bubble above the cartoon character, Mafalda, one of my favorite characters from childhood. In Spanish.
“What does it say?” I asked.
“You don’t speak Spanish?”
“I do, but I haven’t read it in years. And right now it’s upside down so I can’t make out what it says.”
“It says, ‘After all, humanity is a meat sandwich between heaven and earth.’ So true! That’s the kind of thing I would say. It reminds me that I have to read more Spanish. I’m rusty! It took me so long to read your t-shirt.”
Ain’t that the truth. At least it wasn’t my chest that was mesmerizing her. Note to self: don’t go out in the gardening shirt.