austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

There's just one other thing you ought to do

I was in Manhattan for good and reasonable grounds, which I'll probably get around to explaining in excruciating detail, but the time had come when I should really be heading back home and thus I was back at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. I'd gotten my ticket and was wandering around the book store adjacent to the ticket booth mostly because I wanted to find something to drink before my ride home. (Among my many phobias are dehydrating, which was reinforced by the need in Singapore to drink roughly my body weight every eight hours; and also of being stuck, say, on a bus for several hours with no way to go to the bathroom. Don't let it be said I don't know how to keep myself in constant turmoil.) But it was a bookstore and so naturally I was looking to see if they had anything particularly interesting.

While I was looking at a wall full of books about total quality excellence in whatever the current management trend is (I can't make it out), I heard a man demanding of the clerk, ``Where is your Shakespeare?'' I was a bit surprised to realize I hadn't supposed there would be Shakespeare in a bus terminal book store. The clerk took him over to one of the shelves, though, and answered yes to the repetition of the question. ``Do you have MacBeth?'' And yes, they did have that: the clerk took what looked like a Penguin copy out for him. ``This is MacBeth?'' I began to consider that while things like this happened when I worked at Waldenbooks back then I was too young to have sarcastic comments leap so readily to mind and so dangerously near being said aloud.

Finally the man asked the price. It was six dollars and eighty-eight cents. ``$6.88?'' he asked, not unreasonable since that is really a very silly price to assign to anything. The clerk was sure of it, and pointed out where it was on the label, and the man left without getting the book. I would like to know what prompted a person in the Port Authority to need a copy of MacBeth urgently, but not so urgently as to pay seven dollars for it, and odds are I never will. I got a Cherry Coke Zero.

Trivia: The Mermaid Tavern, drinking place of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, was owned by the Fishmongers' Company. Source: London: A History, A N Wilson.

Currently Reading: Astounding: John W Campbell Memorial Anthology, Editor Harry Harrison. Ah, Clifford Simak. Is there any other author who could make the entropic heat death of the universe and ultimate futility to all endeavor seem so friendly? How is it he and Arthur C Clarke never got together to write a story about the year 5,000 trillion and the last molecule in the universe?


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