I am spending the evening around some of my favorite friends: books. Whether I enter a big box bookseller like Barnes and Noble or a small cramped hole in the wall with stacks and stacks of dusty books, I feel excited and anxious at once. All the possibilities of new worlds and amazing characters between these covers excite me, while looking at the stacks or shelves of books makes me anxious because I'll never have time to read them all.
Tonight I'm navigating around big tables piled high with coffee table books deeply discounted at Barnes and Noble. I look at one called The Complete History of the World, which keeps sliding on the slick glossy covers of the books underneath it because it's nearly two feet tall.
The table also has a selection of books about President Elect Barack Obama - his two bestsellers, a political pundit's analysis of him and a giant picture book of his campaign. Soon two female seniors approach the table. One of them opens the Obama picture book and stops at a double-page spread capturing close-up photos of three black women in the crowd at Obama's victory speech. Tears stream down all three black womens' faces and two of them grip tiny American flags in their clasped hands.
The older white women looking at the book pause at this photo, one smiles softly and the other utters a barely audible 'hhmm':
Smiles: My, my. It must be something to see one of your own finally make it this far.
Hhmm: Yes, well, Obama's not your average black. He's different.
Smiles: How do you mean?
Hhmm: Well, he's not on welfare, a thief or a gang member, is he? And he went to college. And got a job.
Smiles: Ohhh, shhh! Don't say that!
Hhmm: Why? I don't hear you disagreeing with me.
Dec 27, 2008
Dec 21, 2008
Dec 2, 2008
I am one of those silly people who buys a Christmas tree at the crack of December's dawn. I know it will be stiff and crispy by the 25th, but I can't be reasoned with. The tip of my nose tingles with cold tonight as fog rolls in. The moving misty blanket starts obscuring the trees and I feel a few pangs of panic. This is my only free night until the weekend and I simply can't wait that long if I don't find a tree, the tree, tonight.
A little girl's happy squeals erupt a few trees over. Curious to see which tree has found its family, I amble over. A young girl zipped and hooded inside a pink puffy jacket hops up and down holding her mother's hand. Her dad gives the tree a final once-over. The little girl hops faster. Her mother tells her gently to calm down. She stands still and pushes the hood off of her head:
Girl: Daddy! This is the prettiest tree here! Ours is the best tree. And we have to keep it safe.
Dad: What do you mean?
Girl: Today? At school? We learned you cannot ever leave its lights on all night and you can never ever put it by a heater because it will catch fire.
Dad: That's right. We won't do that.
The girl begins hopping again and her mom bends to hug her into stillness.
Girl: Mom, know what else I learned today?
Mom: What's that?
Girl: That if you're a boy you have to buy a lot of Christmas presents for your girlfriend.
Mom: Who said that?
Girl: Kelly. She heard her sister tell her boyfriend all the stuff he has to buy her for Christmas or else he's gonna be single and Kelly said being single is the worst thing you can be when you grow up because then you are a desperate housewife, like on TV.