Friday, December 31, 2010

Curious George Finds a Final Resting Place

Photograph by Lindsay Metivier,
ruined via Photoshop by the author of this post.

On the last day of the 49th calendar year of the Booksmith, I came in to the store bleary-eyed and fuzzy-headed from my home, where a four-year-old Curious George junkie in recovery had told me just before the door closed "i love you that's why i'm going to give you a big hug."

Scheduled to train a new bookseller on the Atari-era computer system that keeps our records and manages our point of sale, I spent the first hour of the workday struggling to recall the litany of possible sales transactions that, after twelve years of wrangling the reg (pronounced rej) now exist as pure muscle-memory. The hour was long, but fortunately my trainee was patient, as I ended up spending more time chastising my fingers, which were skittering at their typically manic pace across the keyboard, than imparting actual knowledge. "Slow down! Even I can't tell what you're doing."

Release and relief for my cramping brain came in the form of Ric, Cool Ric. Leaving the continuation of the training to the zen master, I stepped down from the reg and immediately into a classic bookselling moment.

"I need something that will make a paper boat, do you have something?"
"...are you looking for a kit? Or a book that includes instructions?"
"I suppose I should tell you what this is for. The boat will carry a family member's ashes out to sea."

Now, a book has not been written about every specific subject, but I'm usually adept at finding needles in haystacks. The next part of this story would usually involve extensive searching down byways and through the crafts section, the card & gift room, google. And when the objective is something so personal and important, any bookseller worth the title would put off all other duties in the pursuit of the prize.

But me? Coming from where I come from? And that boy, who declared his love and his intention to express it, not two hours earlier?
Inigo Montoya holds aloft his beloved murdered father's sword, invokes the spirits, and is guided to the secret knot in the great tree. The six-fingered man is found. Curious George cannot hide his secrets when guided by the spirit of his greatest fan.

In the one where he rides a bike, George provides a step by step diagram explaining how to make a paper boat out of a newspaper.

This is a great day, for all of us.

Except Philip, who didn't learn a thing from me.

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