I pulled into the handicap parking space outside Barnes and Noble while my friend, Betsy, hung the handicap marker on my rearview mirror.
“Do you have your sunglasses?” I asked as I exited the car and came around to her side of the vehicle.
“Yep.” She put them on and accepted my offered arm as she flicked her cane open. “You do realize that with my sunglasses on inside I really will be blind, right?” (She has retinitous pigmentosa and is legally blind – she can see a very little bit in well lit places – in the dark she can’t see a thing.)
“I promise not to steer you into any bookshelves. At least, not on purpose anyway.” We laughed and entered the store.
Just walking into the book store with her without her sunglasses on is entertaining. We get a myriad of strange looks, but with her sunglasses on we got completely baffled stares as I steered her towards a large display of books right in the middle of the center aisle stretching through the store.
I paused and looked over the books as she stood silently by my side, waiting. I picked up a large book with a shark on the cover and handed it to her. Her fingers danced across the cover and down the sides. After frowning, she ran them over the title as though it were braille and then lifted the book to her nose. After a long inhale she shook her head no. “This one smells a bit fishy to me.”
I barely smothered my giggles as I took the book back and glanced at a pair of ladies staring at us from across the aisle. I wanted to stare at them full on and really observe their arched eyebrows and puzzled eyes, but I didn’t dare turn my head and contented myself to my peripheral observations. I picked up a second book and handed it too her. “How about this one then?”
She proceeded to do the same as she had previously, pausing after running her hands over the book to flip through the pages and sniff them. “This one, this one smells a bit smokey.”
I glanced briefly at the title and noticed it was some thriller with fire or smoke in the caption and smothered more laughs as I set it down. I watched as the two ladies passed by, shaking their heads and laughing. We decided to try a different part of the store and headed to the back corner where there were numerous chairs and tables arranged.
Facing the shelves my back was to our unknowing audience, but I managed to turn my body slightly in order to catch numerous reactions out of the corner of my eye. I snagged the first book I came too and handed it to her. She felt it, smelled it and grinned. “This is a Sue Grafton book, I think I might like it.”
I took the book and looked at it. “You’re right! It is!” I allowed my eyes to dart quickly around me. I saw a pair of raised eyebrows behind a newspaper as a girl ducked her head quickly so as not to be caught spying, a man studiously staring at the book on the table in front of him, and another girl with a furry black hat staring unabashedly at us.
Not wanting to appear as though I was observing them I quickly grabbed the next book my hand fell on and gave it to Betsy. She took longer with this one and smelled numerous times. She opened the book and sniffed the pages, her face becoming more and more puzzled. Finally, she shook her head and handed it back to me. “I don’t think I’d want that one. It smells so strange. Almost foreign.”
I raised my eyebrows and observed the author. It was a struggle not to burst into laughter. “Yeah, it looks like its by some Russion guy.” This time I glanced the eyes and eyebrows pearing at us in blatant curious wonder, the distracted man who quickly shifted his gaze back to his book, and the girl with the furry black hat with her jaw hanging open.
I gripped Betsy’s arm and we shuffled off down the aisles where we could disolve into giddy laughter as she whipped her sunglasses off. “I can’t believe you got me to do that.”
“Me neither!” I broke into a huge grin. “Wasn’t it fun? Next time we need to bring our entire writing group and have them staked out around the store so we can get better observation of people’s reactions.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Next time?”
“Oh yeah. You so want to do that again. Admit it.”
“Ok, yes I do.”
I need to go practice my poker face now so that I don’t break down in laughter every time she starts sniffing the books.