Today was The Day of Nicholas...but I'll get to that in a bit.
Susan was working for Sandy when I got there but she was in a hurry to get to a lunch date, so she rushed out to the car to help Walt in with 3 bags of books and then took off. No chance to ask her how her vacation had gone. We have only two big boxes of books left to donate. I wonder how many boxes/bags in all it has been over the past months. Hundreds of books, for sure.
When Susan left there was an older woman with a walker in the store. She ultimately bought 10 bargain books, all mysteries, which she packed into a Target bag that she had in her purse.
A Latino came in with his daughter. After a visit to the kids' room, she chose a monster book, which he bought, leaving his change behind as a donation.
Another dad came in with two children, a boy about 6 years old, clutching his penis through his shorts, and a younger sister. They looked around for awhile and finally the little girl chose a book on crafts for children.
A tall man with a short woman came in. She checked out the old book section and bought a very old, weathered book of "Pride and Prejudice" and also a bargain book--one of the Twilight Series. (A contradiction in book choices, in my opinion!)
A man wearing a black t-shirt with "Video Saloon" emblazoned on it completed his bargain book purchase without an interruption of his cell phone conversation.
A hippie-like guy with a scarf over his ponytail and sunglasses on his head checked the travel book section, but did not buy anything.
I saw Bruce walk by and check bargain books, but did not come in. He was wearing another home-made hat, which I guess he had to do to protect his balding head from the summer sun.
A group of four came in, together 2 young men and 2 young women, who looked around the store for a long time, talking and laughing all the while, and then left together without making a purchase.
And then there was Nicholas. He came in with a copy of a Fredrick Forsyth book from the bargain table. Maybe it was my fault for telling him that I hadn't read that book. He asked me which Forsyth books I had read and I told him I loved "Day of the Jackal" and told him it was about an attempted assassination of Charles de Gaulle. 'Who's that?" he asked. Sigh. I'm so old.
Then he started going through the book shelves pulling out random books to ask if I'd read them and what did I think about them. (He ended up also buying a Jules Verne).
At some point he asked if I minded if he pulled up a chair and he sat there for about 20 minutes. Told me about his family (he lives in Riverside, CA) and summers spent at the Wild Animal Park in San Diego. He told me he had finished 3 years at UCD in mechanical engineering but he didn't like it so he's quit and he doesn't know what to do with himself.
We talked about Catholic school education and nuns I had known (he thought it was weird to think of a nun teaching in a Catholic school...I'm so old I can remember thinking it was weird when the first NON-nun came to our high school!)
He talked about religion and what I thought of organized religion and why I'd left the Catholic church. Really very uncomfortable questions. I finally pulled the dead kid card and how the church, which we had attended for more than 20 years, saw David's name in the headlines two days in a row and which was across the street from the theater where the marquees did a tribute to him for a week and the only time they contacted us was to remind us to give our monthly donation. That finally shut him up about me and religions.
He finally pressed me for advice on what he should do about his life. I told him I wasn't going to give him advice when I'd only known him 20 minutes, but he kept pushing so I finally fell back on Jim Brochu's father's advice, which he talks about in "The Big Voice: God or Merman" and told him to "do what makes you happy." About then a couple of customers came in. My friend had arrived about 5 minutes before then and Nicholas decided to leave. It was an interesting, unusual, sometimes irritating, and somehow exhausting time I spent with him.
My friend bought a book on Origami and we talked about that. I told him about the kid I'd interviewed a few years back (the sun of my theater colleague), who was traveling all over the world to give lectures on Origami.
A very talk man was looking for psychology books and bought a book called "Jung and Politics," which sounds interesting!
A professor-type bought five math/calculus books.
A middle-aged woman in a broad-brimmed straw had bought four bargain book mysteries
A Latino guy was looking for an economics book, but left without buying anything.
A young women wearing a tank top with spaghetti traps came in. She had earbuds in her ears and her hair had a hint of a pink tinge to it. She had a big wolf tattoo on one bicep, a deer head tattoo on her shoulder and cross swords on the inside of her right arm. Three friends met up with her -- a tall man with a 'Lighting/Grip Olympian" shirt, and a stocky woman who laughed a lot. They all talked for a while and she ultimately bought a tiny red notebook (empty). I didn't realize we had one to sell.
The next couple was a man and his very pregnant wife, She looks like Ashley must look, with her due date in just a couple of days. She wandered around the store stroking her belly and looking at craft books. Her partner found a chair for her to sit in while he continued to shop. He bought "These United States," a book of farmers essays, and a book about traveling down California's Highway 99.
A couple that I hope was a dad and daughter ('cause the age difference was too creepy for it to be otherwise) came in. He was carrying a bag that said "Choose Juice," and a murce over his shoulder, along with a backpack and a red bike helmet.
My final customer had the chutzpah to ask "how much of a discount can I get on these?" on books that are already a fraction of the original price. He tried to buy a like-new copy of "KGB/CIA" which would sell for $30 and was marked $7 for a discount. He bought it anyway, even though I told him I could not discount it.
So it was a kind of memorable day, which helped take my mind off the very bad morning I'd had with my mother. At least these were people I could help, unlike my mother who wants me to help her kill herself.