Apologies and The Tale of the Book Fair

First of all, I want to apologize to you all – I haven’t had time to read any of your wonderful posts yesterday and today, and I feel awful about it. I always do, you know. I feel such a respect and appreciation for all of you who post so faithfully and who make me laugh, think, weep, and smile in turns – and I hate not having the time both to comment and to read your posts for my own pleasure. I do, however, have a good reason for not having had time yesterday and today to catch up.

I’ve had a rush of doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds [stomach and throat – I’m not pregnant or anything!] and errands in the past two days. On top of all that, starting yesterday, June 2, I’ve been working at the Hebrew Book Fair, which has been one of my goals since I was tiny tot.

Now, I don’t want to be too discriminatory, nor too prejudiced, but Israelis are often not the easiest crowd to deal with. This is common knowledge amongst Israelis, too, and as I am one, I’m allowed to say it. But Hebrew Book Week is ten full days in which fairs go up all over the country – fairs dedicated to BOOKS [yeah, I know, why call it a week when it’s ten days? It’s one of the grand mysteries of the world.] If you don’t know already, books are my life in more than one sense. They’ve been calming, comforting presences, friends when I needed them, entertainers when I needed a laugh and teachers when I wanted to learn. I love books. I love their smell, their feel, the crack in the spine when you first start reading a book… I love books.

So finally, this year, I’m working at the biggest of the fairs – the one that goes up right in the center of Tel Aviv – and I’m working for one of the major publishers. I never thought that I’d actually manage to work there, and I’m so glad that I have! I was tiny when I started going to the annual book fair, and I remember the excitement of leaving with bags laden with books [there’s 20% off all books during this time, of course, plus numerous other deals] and reading one of the books right that night. I remember going to the children’s corner to hear storytellers or writers reading their books.

And now I’m there, looking at it all from the other side. It’s an interesting experience, seeing famous Israeli writers or not so famous ones; seeing the way different writers deal with their own books [some, for instance, promote them shamelessly and aggressively. I can’t imagine ever being able to do that with anything I’d create…] ; seeing the different buyers, whether they’re families or couples or friends; meeting the people who work with me who are just as into books as I am… It’s an education, and the time flies.

The fair is in the evenings and into the night. I just managed to get out tonight by fifteen after midnight, and I’m exhausted. This may explain the non-existent eloquence of the post, as well as the not-so-pervading neatness and flow. Forgive me, for I’ve been on my feet for seven hours, and I think my brain might have dripped down meanwhile. Tomorrow, and Saturday, I will have freer days and will finally get back on track with y’all.

Three Ladies at Peet’s

Three ladies sat outside Peet’s Coffee in Santa Monica. There were many little tables outside the coffee-shop: one was inhabited by a trendy man in his early twenties, wearing a brown hat and reading a design book; one other table was occupied by a balding man with glasses perched precariously on his nose who was proofreading a paper as he sipped his coffee and occasionally looked up at the people going by; the third table was surrounded by three ladies.

The three ladies were of varying ages. Two were in their early fifties and looked like sisters – both had similar features and they had that sort of friendly and easy manner with each other that comes from a good sisterly relationship. The third was obviously a family member as well – the daughter of the one and the niece of the other. These ladies were surrounded by lots of baggage – a purse, a backpack, four pounds of Peet’s coffee blends, another shoulder bag, and, of course, three large cups of coffee, a cinnamon roll and a small box of chocolates.

The conversation between the ladies was fast and carefree: gossip about family members and family events, chit-chat about the merits of good coffee, small talk about travel plans. Somehow, in all the chatter, the subject of ostrich meat, an option that had been on a menu of a restaurant where the ladies had been the night before, came up. There was some discussion over the general aversion to the very idea of ostrich meat, and then with a casual remark from one of the ladies about how it tasted like roast beef, the table exploded. The ladies all burst out laughing as one of them spit out her coffee, overcome with laughter, and the other two followed suit while trying to control themselves and the flow of coffee spilling over their baggage.

Eventually, the three got themselves under control, though still giggling, and got up to leave. As they were walking down the sidewalk, the young hip man called out with a smile that he enjoyed their laughter and liked to see that they were having fun. He wasn’t mocking – he was sincere. He had enjoyed the sight of three ladies laughing at a table in the Los Angeles sunlight. Only the young lady had noticed that the other man, the quiet one with the glasses, had smiled to himself as well as the three had been laughing hysterically.

The youngest lady walked away from the whole encounter feeling that the world was a good place if people could enjoy the enjoyment of others.