Tag Archives: MariaJoseph Books

I Think you Owe Me ….

Jack guest blogs today!

Wendy and I left our hotel room in St. Louis on Friday afternoon to visit a nearby Indian restaurant she had managed to locate as a special treat for me. My wife isn’t the world’s biggest Indian food fan, but I am, and she loves me and wants me to be happy, and there aren’t a lot of Indian restaurants in Southwest Virginia, so she seeks them out when we travel.

At the room beside ours stood a slightly harassed gentleman knocking timidly on the door. A loud female voice from inside said, “I think you owe me an apology!”

As Wendy and I passed, the man mumbled, “I’m sorry, honey” with obvious embarrassment.

We managed to keep our dignity until we were safely inside the elevator. Then we lost it – eyes streaming with uncontrolled laughter as we bounced up and down like kids who had heard an adult farting. What could have produced such a display? We created increasingly hilarious scenarios as we headed off gaily toward our Indian banquet–only a few miles distant and an easy navigate courtesy of a list emailed us by fellow bookstore owner Bruce Campbell, and John Cleese’s voice on our trusty GPS.

Of course, this was St. Louis – a big city! A big American city!! Which meant Wendy driving and me navigating. (We reverse this on the other side of the road – er, pond.)

Ah, the eternal bugbear of couples everywhere: communication, or lack thereof. As we careened in Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic across unfamiliar spaghetti junctions doing 70 mph, Wendy first requested, then demanded in increasing volume, advice on directions as I frantically tried to second guess what lay ’round the next corner and Basil Fawlty bellowed insults about signposts we had passed, turns we should have made.

Finally we screeched to a halt, terrified, sweating, and ready to give the whole thing up for a bad job, at the red light marking the intersection of the two major streets where the restaurant was supposed to be.

We missed seeing it the first time. A turnaround in a shopping plaza, a second pass – and we passed Saffron’s on the opposite corner of the crossroads we’d just turned right on. A few minutes later we passed it again and missed the rather small and hidden entrance. Then we passed it for the fourth time on the other side of the divided highway, meaning we had to go back through the crossroads and start all over again.

It took us twelve minutes to reach the place, fifteen to figure out how to get into it. All the while Wendy bellowed questions about one-way systems or whether a housing subdivision had a through street, and I shouted back my stock answer: “I don’t know!”

During the meal, I drank wine. Wendy’s hands shook as she poured herself water from the carafe.

The next day we navigated a five-highway junction, practically empty at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, and Wendy said, “Hey, isn’t this the intersection where I shouted at you?”

“You shouted at all of them,” I replied.

I’m sorry, honey….. and fellow traveler outside the hotel room, I feel your pain.


Filed under humor, publishing, small town USA, writing

Angelic Bookstore Owners

Bookstore owners are the sweetest, smartest people in the world. Trust me on this. ;]

Jack and I had a really busy month in July, with a sick foster cat (TEAM HAZEL FOR THE WIN) and a final push on finishing our basement so we could get moved in and turn upstairs into the SECOND STORY EATERY.  Jack was just back from leading his annual Scottish tour (next year now booking) and he was the wee bit under the weather. Yuppie stress in the grand scheme of the world, but it induced an aversion to doing anything besides sitting quietly on a Friday evening, staring at the wallpaper.

But Angelic Towe, owner of MariaJoseph Books in Wallach House, downtown Eureka, Missouri, had asked us ages ago to come do a book event in her bookstore. The store she started after reading my book. (Does this make me legally culpable?)

And poor Angelic, the week before we were to sojourn at her lakeside house for the event plus an extra day of swimming and sunning, was descended upon by family members under some surprise stress. En masse. Her bedrooms filled, her fridge emptied, and her Mom heart expanded.

We said, “Let’s just reschedule.” She took it bravely, but it slipped out that she’d “done some publicity.” So we said “OK, let’s get ‘er done.”

And when we arrived last night to the hotel she’d booked for us–gorgeous and with a SWIMMING POOL–in the midst of her own stress, she’d left us a chocolate bar and a gift card to a local restaurant. When we went to the first gig she’d arranged, we saw the “publicity”: elegant postcards in lovely color tones with antique script, touting the event at Angelic’s store.

Plus, her kids helped make cookies for today.

On the way home from Angelic’s, we will make a swift detour through Granite City, IL to BSR Used Books. Owner Bruce Campbell coined the phrase TEAM HAZEL FOR THE WIN while keeping up with the saga of our elderly, sick foster cat. He’s been one of her staunchest supporters in her new life in North Carolina (complete with her own Facebook page, as befits a celebricat). We look forward to meeting him.

And we will be stopping off in Indiana as well, but that’s a surprise we’ll keep for a later blog. Suffice it to say we’re meeting some (more) very cool people for a very fun reason.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it behooves us all to make friends with independent bookstore owners: sweet, cool, smart people. They care about cats, and they make cookies.

In fact, I’m pretty sure it is independent bookstore owners and school teachers who form the safety net enclosing the world, keeping it from flying apart.


Filed under book reviews, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, publishing, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing