Mark and Sally Smith are watching the bookshop while Jack and I slip away for a holiday. They originally planned to come last October, when Little Bookstore was published and our original request for shopsitters went viral. In their Memphis house, Mark in the kitchen and Sally in the bedroom each heard on NPR’s Weekend Edition how we were looking for someone to mind the place while we went on book tour, and rendezvoused in the car on the way to church.
“Want to?” asked Mark.
“That would be so much fun,” Sally replied, and Mark fired off an email. Only, instead of sending it from Mark to Jack, he sent it from their Labrador, Red, to our Labrador, Zora.
That pretty much guaranteed we were gonna choose them, but it turned out the dates we needed clashed with some family commitments. So Andrew Whalen shopsat instead, and he was wonderful, and Mark and Sally said they’d get up with us next time.
Which is this week. Jack and I are flying to Istanbul for our 15th wedding anniversary, Christmas 2012 and 2013, combined birthdays and Valentine’s Day, plus celebration of Little Bookstore’s success. When we knew we wanted to go, we called Mark and Sally.
“You really want to?” Mark asked Sally, with his hand over the phone.
“In a heartbeat,” Sally said.
That’s how this couple rolls. Both lost their life partners several years ago, and Sally was volunteering as a docent at the Memphis Public Library, and attending a book club there, when Mark walked in.
“I don’t remember what book it was, I don’t remember what she said about it, I don’t remember a thing about that night except that Sally was sitting there taking up all my brain space,” he said.
He asked her out. Sally, primed ahead of time by friends, said, “I’ll drive myself and meet you there.”
15 months later, they formed a partnership. And they still go to book clubs. And out to dinner, but in one car.
They drove here Friday past to get their feet wet running the shop one whole day, before Jack and I abandon them to ValKyttie’s tender mercies and fly off. Since Sally has been staffing the Memphis Library’s secondhand books store for a few hours each week, and Mark never met a fuzzy creature he didn’t know how to charm, the place is in good hands. As Sally said, “I’ve always loved books, and I’ve always enjoyed people, so I kinda always thought I’d run a bookstore someday.”
And now she is. So come visit Sally and Mark if you’re in the area. They’ll stay through the last Saturday in April, then head back to Memphis because they have a hot ticket to attend the Annual Payroll Convention in Grapevine, Texas.
I know, but Mark says it’s wild fun. And we feel good knowing they’ll have no trouble computing sales tax.