"I'm looking for a modern children's book with, like, hip, retro content and contemporary values."
"Uh," said the tattooed sales clerk at Powell's Books, stalling for a moment before attempting a more serious response. "Well, this is one of my current favorites," she said, holding up some book I'd never heard of before with Dick and Jane style artwork on the front.
"No, I'm looking for something a little less dated than that," replied this twenty-something woman who, um, well, probably spent more than a few minutes getting ready to leave the house earlier that rainy Portland day.
I started laughing, but I played it off like I was just laughing at something Jack was doing--I was trying to keep him from pulling every single book off the shelf at the time.
Brittany, Jack and I drove down to Portland on Monday. I had a meeting with my editor (you should all be very, very excited about my forthcoming ebook, Paradise Squandered), and we also visited our friend, Veronica, ate some very tasty mac and cheese and a burger with Gorgonzola and bacon at Violetta (always awesome), hiked around Washington Park, and wandered around the city in the rain. Jack loves the rain.
Jack and I hung out at Powell's for a while while we waited for Brittany and Veronica to finish trying on clothes at Buffalo Exchange. Jack picked out a new Curious George book--it's pretty cool, it has all sorts of very fascinating cutouts and mirrors inside it. While he was making his selection, though, we witnessed some lady push a Powell's employee nearly to her breaking point. It was funny.
The Powell's sales clerk probably showed the lady nine or ten books before she gave up, and each time she offered a suggestion, the other lady responded with something like:
"Well, that's not really was I'm looking for. Do you have anything with/that ______________ (enter incoherent nonsense here)."
Finally, the Powell's employee (red faced and clearly about to explode) told her to hold on, that she'd find someone else who might know more about what she was looking for.
Throughout this whole hilarious ordeal, though, while Jack and I explored everything Powell's has to offer a sixteen month old (everything within arm's reach, really), this lady's kid, who looked like an eight or nine year old hipster zombie--his bored expression never changed, not even a little bit--just stood there, seemingly disinterested in absolutely everything. And we were all there for probably close to an hour.
And I'm not trying to make fun of a kid here, but, seriously, you should have seen this kid. He had a fedora, a very-cool jacket, and short, dark-denim skinny jeans that showed off his red socks and plaid Converse low-tops. But I kept wondering if he was just extremely bored waiting for his insanely hard-to-comprehend mother, or if he was heavily medicated, or just way too cool to be hanging out in the children's section of Powell's.
But in all fairness, the kid probably really was way cooler than I am, ever have been, or could ever hope to be. I liked his shoes.