It dint bother me when I first started in the business. I mean, I'd be inside a book somewhere, in its imagined world, but I'd still be in my bookstore, which was smack dab in the middle of the physical world. This was back in the late seventies, when a person could still do such things. Then the bookstores got bigger, with more of 'em comin on every year. And there were more books each year too, and they kept gettin longer and longer, as if the editors had all taken a long snooze. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stay in the two worlds simultaneously. Even though I loved being in both.
Quist told me I had to grow up. "You gotta make a choice, poot, between God and Mammon." I thought to myself, I don't know if it's that clear, old man. After all, literature ain't a religious community and business ain't run by greedy gods. But he was right -- there was a choice.
I just couldn't make it, instead I kept one foot on the trapdoor and one foot on the banana peel. Had to reinforce the seams on my effin slacks and hold my breath from time to time. In the end, I was lost to the book world, and the business world lost me. It's not a sad story, just a biological fact, like losin your eyesight, or goin a little thick in the gut when you reach your fifties.
A little while ago, I walked down to the General Store to pick up some liquor and cough drops. So much depends on the air and the sunlight and the breeze. I felt like a proper human again after too many days inside nursin my bug. Lisa's runt Jack Russell -- she calls the yapper Petey -- skittered down Canadawa Street after a squirrel and I cackled in delight. Coupla seconds later, out of the house she followed, all a-jiggle in her sweatsuit, chasin after him with a toy whistle. They may still be out there runnin around after each other. Dogs and people get giddy in the open air in early March: even the dirty starlings up in the gutter were cooin and cluckin like lovebirds at noon.
I'm thinkin, if it was only two places, it might still be manageable. But you know better than anyone, poot, that it ain't just Jersey and the blogosphere, it's a whole raft of places, some I ain't even visited yet. You think now's the time for me to choose? Or does gettin laid off mean I can dilly dally for a while?