This morning Jack prepared to depart into the basement and pursue renovations, but before he headed down the stairs he updated me on the boxes and bags of trade-ins people had brought, that he “hadn’t had time” to get to yet.
Among them were a bag of romances from one of our regular customers, a woman we call “The Lady.” Always well-turned-out, this elderly woman brings in her exchanging romances in rubber-band-wrapped bundles of five, and takes her time going through the stash to see what she’s read.
“We had that dinner on last night [The SOUL FOOD OF LOVE] so I didn’t have time to help her look, and I asked her to come back today. It would take for bloody ever for her to go through our romances.”
I gave him an odd look. “She only has to look for her initials.”
He gave me a befuddled look, as if I had suddenly spoken in Yiddish with a lisp.
“Don’t you know how women keep track of which romances they’ve read?” I asked, laughing. “Six years in the book business and you haven’t got this?”
“I rather left them to get on with things at that end of the shop,” Jack said, looking at the floor.
So I have now let him in on the secret codes, ladies, and I realize normally we don’t share the rules with men, but heck, he’s a bookslinger, so it’s in your best interest.
And in case anyone else didn’t know about this, think of it as the equivalent of that intricate hobo hieroglyphic system, the one that distinguishes nice women from people with mean dogs, etc. Women initial, or leave stickers, or write a shortened version of their first name, in romance paperbacks they have read, before returning them to second-hand book shops.
“That ARD woman.” The Lady said, shaking her head over a Sandra Brown mystery. “I don’t understand her tastes. Who wants to read such garbage?”
Follow the signals, and you can’t get too far off the trail.