What A Golden Chair Says About Reading

Everyday on my way home I walk past a cafe that has one gold chair in it. You can’t miss it. It’s one-of-a-kind shiny gold snakeskin faux leather.¬† It’s by the bookshelf spilling with pre-owned books that nobody reads. The other tables and chairs are functional and boring, and usually filled with customers. The gold chair stays empty.

“I find it odd that nobody sits in it,” I said to Jasmine, my friend at work.

“Oh, it’s because nobody reads anymore,” Jasmine said.

“Like nobody sits down anymore either?” I said.

“Not in that chair, they don’t. They’d be self-conscious.”

“You mean, reading is now a self-conscious behavior?”

“If you’re not reading on a tablet, or your smart phone, you’re dated,” Jasmine said. “Nobody wants to stand out like that.”

I love to read. Real books. The kind with lots of pages crammed with words.

The next day on my way home, I made a detour and went into the cafe. I ordered an espresso at the counter, paid for it, and walked over to the gold chair. I sat down. I looked around. The other customers were engrossed in their conversations. Nobody noticed me sitting there. While I sipped my espresso, I turned my attention to the book titles. One of them caught my attention.

The book was: Historical Rumps on the Gold Chair by Sir Robert Bottoms-Up.

I laughed out loud.

A few people stopped talking to look at me.

Then the chair began to vibrate. At first I thought it was an earthquake. Nobody else seemed alarmed. The vibrations got stronger to the tickling point. I laughed louder. This time more customers stared at me. I looked around me. I was the only one experiencing this. I had a choice. To enjoy the massage or bolt.

What would you do?

Calvin says, “Do you get a free goodie if you pass the 3-minute mark?”

Shades of Language

A restaurant. A man and a woman at a table, having dinner and discussing a play they had just seen.

Woman: There aren’t any nuances about, “Take the garbage out.” For a woman that says I love you.

Man: I’m married to you, I understand that.

Woman: This isn’t about us. I live with you. I feel what you’re saying.

Man: We have our language.

Woman: The woman in the play didn’t know what that meant. She was waiting for someone to interpret things.

Man: She didn’t understand without speaking. Body language, looks, it was all there.

Woman: Subtlety evaded her.

Man: You and I live in the sub-text. It’s fun.

Woman: Except when you forget to take out the garbage.

Calvin says, “I don’t need body language. I come running as soon as I hear the clatter of kibble pouring into my bowl.”

What Are You Looking For?

Last night I browsed in an independent bookshop. I think it’s the last one left in San Francisco (http://www.bookshopwestportal.com). You know the kind. Hardwood floors. Well lit. Wood tables stacked high with literature. Yes, literature. Not the latest mass produced drivel. Titles that beckon your attention. Books with a distinct voice. Intelligent writing. Compelling stories. Just breathing the air made you smarter.

“What are you looking for?” asked the saleswoman. She was a woman in her fifties with short, dark hair, and a few wrinkles around her eyes.

“I’m looking for something well written, with charm, wit, and a story worthy of my time and money,” I said waiting to see a blank stare cross her face.

“Come with me,” she said. “Do you like mysteries?”

“Yes. British. Women protagonists,” I said.

Before I knew it I had a book in my hand, by an author who was new to me, that bore the marks of a decent read. “She’s smart and her stories have depth,” the saleswoman said. Clearly she was a reader.

She rang me up. I thanked her for the personal attention. And I’d be back to let her know how I liked the book.

I made my way to the front door. The blue computer screen on the counter stared at me unblinkingly.

Calvin says, “I love the personal touch. It’s like getting scratched behind your ears.”

Center Stage

People don’t want to be fixed. They want to be loved. They want somebody to listen to them. They long for the spotlight. To be the center of the universe, even if the universe is a family, a club, or an office. There are some who demand a larger stage. They become actors and politicians. Where do these people go when time catches up to them? They write memoirs, of course. They believe their audience still cares. Like Tony Blair. I bought the book. I read four chapters. Yawn. It proves once again that nothing interests people so much as themselves.

Calvin says, “That’s why a dog is still a man’s best friend. We keep the illusion going.”