Empty Jazz & Sugary Pop

I was underdressed for the rain and I wandered into Borders Books to escape. I glanced through the little islands of paid-for-placement books. The mild jazz soundtrack was overpowered for thirty seconds by a loud “fssssssstt” from the espresso machine up on the mezzanine. When the espresso machine finished, the cash register started – an unbuffered “zip zip ziiip” from the dot-matrix printers that do the receipts. I headed upstairs and the background music changed from empty jazz to sugary pop. I had passed from an area covered by the jazz feed into an area covered by the pop feed. The area where the two feeds overlapped was surprisingly small, I crossed it in two paces. There was a man crouched low in front of the graphic novel section reading a book that was holding open against the floor. I walked into the fiction section and went instinctively to Italo Calvino‘s books. That’s where I begin all my bookstore visits – I look at Italo Calvino’s books, even though I’ve read all of them. They had one copy each of most of his books, I ran my eyes across the consistently designed spines of the Harcourt-published books folled by the odd spines of the two or three books from other publishers. I’m so used to seeing the familiar covers that I almost missed the new collection of autobiographical pieces. I plucked it from the shelf and ruffled through it. A pop song, maybe the one I came in with or maybe one that followed it, ended and something like Frank Sinatra, but not Frank Sinatra, came on. I wandered around some more, no longer up for browsing after being pleased by the Calvino find. I detected another soundtrack-border as I passed into the music section, the front area was covered by the pop-turned-Sinatra soundtrack, but that faded into silence. The music section had no soundtrack, just a thin quiet bass-line coming from abandoned headsets at the listening stations. I looked at nothing special and headed back downstairs through the Sinatra section, past the man crouched in front of the graphic novels and the three guys reaching to get at something behind him, into the inoffensive jazz which was intermittently drowned out by the zipping cash register printers. I waited in the short line and paid for the book (“zip zip zip-ziiiip”). I headed outside and someone ordered a latte just as I reached the door. I went outside, avoiding the rain by walking in between the raindrops. Okay, not really. The rain felt pretty good, light and prickly, massaging. How’s that?

Categorized as Before

1 comment

  1. Hi Jeff – I got caught in the rain yesterday, too. The drops were unusually big and fell a bit spread apart. It really did seem like you could walk in between the drops, almost like summer rain, but way colder. -Sam

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