I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in used book vendors. Once or twice every few years, when I’m wondering if I’m on the wrong path in my life, I wander over to their tables and ask them (the tables, not the vendors) for a sign.
The last time I did this, right as I wandered into the vastly fiscally unremunerative but intellectually and philosophically satisfying life of a funny ha-ha cultural critic, I found the edition of “The Arabian Nights” for which I’d written flap copy in my first week as an editorial assistant in my first real-life big corporate job.
This seemed SIGN-like but I was not entirely certain how to read it. (Remember how you didn’t follow this whole life path? Well played?)
THIS time, however, I received the oddest but most remarkable sign:
The Trouble With Thirteen!
There is no reason for anyone who is not crazy and the compiler of some weird “Fine Lines” concordance to know this, but this is the book that, for years, has been my UR-PLOTFINDER, the title of which however often I am reminded I can never retain. (I can only ever remember blue and orange dresses, and you call Avenue of the Americas Sixth Avenue, not Avenue of the Americas.)
Again, I don’t know what it means, but it seems promising career-wise and in any case was not a remaindered copy of my own book.
I had also been vastly itchy over yet another article of the “Blah, blah, and in summation, PEOPLE WITH CHILDREN LEAD FULLER, REALER, HAPPIER LIVES THAN YOU. Despite the urine” variety. PEOPLE OF BABBLE. It is not a competition and STOP MAKING IT ONE. (Though if it is, just fyi, this is all true and we win, especially as we can get on board at any time, ha ha ha!)
Anyway, the table also bore the following intimations:
Please Don't Eat the Daisies!
As the table must have known, Jean Kerr is my favorite writer of what I consider the golden age of parenting literature! Actually, I consider almost anything but our current age the golden age of parenting literature! I do love that Sandra Tsing Loh, though. Basically I want a few weary drinks and a funny story, and I’m happy. Thank you table.
The table bore no further signs for me but did have the hilarity of the following:
TEENAGE GIRLS IN TROUBLE!
A REPORT: SEX LIFE OF THE AMERICAN PROSTITUTE!
So You Know I'm Not a Perv
…for which I had been searching. Check out that tagline.
Having a boyfriend is not the answer!
I see now it’s a very choose your poison display, isn’t it?
I also picked up copies of Cakes and Ale, Wait Till Helen Comes, Klute, Karen, Socks, Catherine, Called Birdy, The Man Who Loved Children, The Glimpses of the Moon, and first edition hardcovers of The Stepford Wives, A Kiss Before Dying, and Fear of Flying. I’m taking the position these augur nothing.