The other day one of our favorite regular customers, “Ted,” came in and special ordered a gift. While he was here, Jack said, “Your mom’s order is in” and began hunting through our hold shelf.
“Oh, what’d she order?” Ted asked, and Jack suddenly straightened.
“Can’t find it, sorry, must not be here yet,” my husband said. Ted shrugged. We ordered a Mother’s Day gift for his mom.
“I know she comes in here all the time,” Ted said, “so don’t mention I got this for her. It’s gonna be a real surprise.”
We swore ourselves to solemn secrecy, and Ted departed. No sooner was he off the porch than Jack sat down with a loud “WHEW.” He looked positively green.
“You okay?” I asked, and Jack pointed to the hold shelf.
“It’s there, what she ordered,” Jack said. “But I just remembered as I was about to pick it up and hand it to him that she told me it was his birthday gift.”
Close call, that. Sometimes it carries to full conclusion. Last winter a brother-sister duo browsed Christian non-fiction. He opened a book, frowned, and walked to her. “I gave you this for Christmas in 2008,” he said in the tones of a Methodist Minister opening a funeral. “See the inscription?”
With a weak grin, his sister offered to buy it back for him. He continued to frown and she continued talking faster and higher, but I could see a twinkle forming in the corners of his smile. Finally, his sister burst out, hands on hips, “Ok, Mr. Theology, admit it. It was a dumb, boring book, and that’s why you gave it to me after you read it first, because you didn’t want it.”
The brother burst out laughing and returned the book to the (bargain) shelf.
Such are the days and ways of a small town bookstore. We know who’s buying what, why, for whom. And we never tell – at least when we think fast enough.