Thursday, December 16, 2004


I love book store clerks, more so now that I've done the job myself and know what they have to go through to get our novels into the hands of their customers. (We won't talk about how I feel about book store managers.)

Last night while I was out finishing the very last of the shopping, I ran in BAM to see what's been released. Not surprised to see Tom Wolfe and Michael Crichton's latest stacked to the rafters but few people were bracing the stacks. Most of the shoppers were cruising the inspirational and bargain books sections. I picked up a couple of bargains myself and went to check out.

The young man at the counter was wearing the obligatory black BAM apron, but under it he had on a drop-dead gorgeous dragon shirt (and not a t-shirt, either, a real shirt with real sleeves and a collar.) It was black, with a red dragon of Chinese design curling around the sleeves and front. I admired it, he smiled and told me where he had bought it and what a bargain it had been. He invited me to touch the sleeve so I could feel the material, which was like rough silk. Beautiful, beautiful shirt. I made a writer joke, and he got it and made one of his own. Before I left he wished me a Merry Christmas, something you never hear anyone say anymore. A thoroughly delightful young man.

After I got home, a friend called and I described this brief, happy encounter. My friend said, rather rudely, "Only you could meet someone that gay and think he was cool."

Now unless I have four or five hours to think them up, I am terrible with snappy comebacks. But for once I knew what to say: "Yeah, he was the most cheerful clerk I've met since I got here."

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