Friday, January 21, 2011

The Wandering Reader

I promised this to almost a dozen people, so I have to do it.  I hope I haven't overhyped it already and that this won't be a let-down.  It's one hundred percent true and factual, so I have to be sure to tell it accurately; here goes…

So one night I brought two (of my four) kids to Barnes & Noble to spend some time letting their eyes and minds wander.  After a few minutes perusing the books in the Philosophy aisle, I heard a man's voice talking in the distance.  It had a strange tone and cadence.  The more I listened it seemed to sound like a preacher or a minister delivering a damning speech about retribution, consequences and all that.  The voice was getting closer.   I looked up and saw a homeless guy (you can tell homeless people by the clothes, the hair, the general demeanor, and most importantly: the aroma).

His hair was just past his shoulder blades in length and hadn't been combed (or washed) since probably 1982.  The clothes were older than that and looked like he just emerged from a cement truck tumbler.  Apocalyptic.  That's not the best part:

He would stroll, slowly, up and down each and every aisle of books, reach out and pick up a random book - without ever turning his eyes to see which book.  Then he would open it to a random page and read from it like a sermon.  One book per length of aisle.  As he passed customers and staff, he looked them in the eye as if administering a testament from a Bible.

The good?  It was entertaining as hell!  I had to walk behind him at the same pace, as if I were his clean-up crew, or body guard.  Just to witness this.

The bad? The books he read were put back on different shelves.  After an hour of this I'm sure the staff had a lot of re-stocking work to do.

In all, I followed him as he read from about ten books.

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