From time to time we get cute and post videos of things from the bookshop on youtube. Here are the links to:
QUICK TOUR OF THE BOOKSTORE
SHADES OF GREY SPOOF
NEEDLEWORK NIGHT BABES BEING READ TO ABOUT THEMSELVES BY JACK
and because Jack’s Big Stone Gap accent can be hard for unprepared ears, here is the text to go along with what he’s saying (from Little Bookstore Chapter 14, “Yarn Goddesses”)
A few months after we opened, our friend Isabel (she of the curling toes) ended her long reign as director of a preschool and donated all her children’s books and shelving to us. Although Isabel is a charming and fun person in and of herself, many people keep on her good side because of her years directing the preschool. Sometimes at a Tuesday night needlework session, as seven or eight women sit about the table knitting or crocheting, the Post will be lying open to a photo of—for instance—a former Big Stone Gapper, now a famous cardiovascular surgeon living in New York City, winning some[CE1] national research award at the American Medical Association’s annual meeting. Isabel will glance at the photo and say, “Oh, I remember little Jimmy! He used to pick his nose and eat it. A doctor now? My goodness.”
Singer Nanci Griffith is right: everybody does die famous in a small town.
Isabel had the idea for a Needlework Night at our bookstore. “It will offer women with like interests the chance to get together and talk, relax, enjoy each other’s company,” she suggested. We were all for it, and Needlework Nights started monthly, but proved so popular they went weekly in their second year, Isabel at the helm sending newsletters chock-full of patterns, yarn management tips, and related activities. (She also ensures a steady supply of dark chocolate at the gatherings.)
Needlework Nights are akin to having car tires aligned, sans testosterone; they keep us running right as we check attitudes and adjust balances amid the quasi-spiritual atmosphere of feminine companionship. Regulars ebb and flow, but in addition to our fearless leader, Isabel, the group includes: Fiona, who has mastered every step in crafting a sweater from birthing the lamb to casting off the cuffs (and she once copped to knowing how to artificially inseminate ewes); Elizabeth, forbidden to tell any more stories about women in the ER with needles through their sternums because they knitted in a moving car; and Becky, our first barrel-full-of-laughs professional cleaning lady and world’s sweetest soul.
Along with these stalwarts of the bookstore’s inception, Needlework Night attracted Lynne, a lifelong Big Stone Gap resident who now winters in Florida and summers at the old homestead. Lynne, in her eighties and a cancer survivor, showed up at one of our Dulcimer Sundays (a jam session for mountain dulcimer players) and inspired us all; she became such a regular at the shop that she sometimes staffs it when Jack and I go on short holidays.
Part of the fun is never knowing what dynamic will be operating on any given night. For instance, if Joan and Ashia attend, we all try to behave ourselves because they are such dignified ladies, but the problem is that Isabel and I together really don’t retain dignity; it slides right through our “not in public” filters and runs out our sensible low-heeled pumps. Once we get started, well, it is an all-female group, so an hour rarely passes without someone uttering the word “penis.” Or calling down curses not normally heard from the mouths of steel magnolias of the mountain variety—at least, not in public.
And while we never outright told men they couldn’t be part of Needlework Nights, when a husband pulled his chair up to the table one evening, the girls, without a word or look passing between us, began telling childbearing stories. As Elizabeth launched into a detailed and vivid description of her daughter’s breached birth, Garth grew so pale that Jack appeared with a bottle of Scotch and hauled him upstairs. At the end of the night Kathy yelled, “Okay, y’all can come down now.” The boys returned with a rosy glow over their earlier pallor. Garth often came back to “keep Jack company” after that, but he never bellied up to the yarn bar again.
In which Jack and Wendy act like complete idiots but viewers can see most of the bookstore’s rooms. Incidentally, my brilliant literary agent’s last name is Malpas.