Going Home Again

So, it turns out that it’s really Dee’s Boutique and Books. (Reference yesterday’s post, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) That’s what the hand-painted sign over the store entrance says.

Alongside new and used books, Carol Dee sells hand-knit sweaters from the Wind Rivers and funky “popcorn” shirts that are 9 inches long on the shelf and magically expand on the body. $24.95 and comes with a cardboard popcorn box.

I met in the afternoon with the Evanston Social Club — ladies who meet every-other Friday afternoon since 1930. Many of them went to grade-school together. Carol is a newcomer to town, having arrived only 30 years ago. Sometimes they play bridge; sometimes they have guests. I arrived as they finished their business meeting, making plans to visit one of their group who’s growing oddly reclusive. I read to them my grandmother’s story, Appliances, and we talked about my writing and my day job. I felt like I was having tea with my grandmother’s friends, gently grilled about my life choices.

Having a couple of hours to kill before the evening signing, I drove down to the riverwalk and sat in the parking area to enjoy the sun and read. Lots of snow over in Evanston. They have a kind of lodge there and a natural skating pond. A guy scooted around it, scuffling up snow with his feet. I couldn’t tell if he had skates on or not. He studied my car, as if he though he might have to trudge up and rent me skates, so I drove around to the other side and parked in the “clearly not interested in the skating pond” area to the back. Two other cars drove by as I sat. Both times, the driver and passenger hung out the windows as they curved past me, staring intently.

David says it’s the small town thing: suspicious of my county 5 plates and why they don’t know me, sitting in their park.

God bless ’em though, they have a Starbucks. Which was good, since I felt in need of reviving. A couple of Utah twenty-somethings stopped in, too, ski and camping gear strapped to their car. They stopped and asked me about the Kindle I was reading. Not from thereabouts either.

The six o’clock reading, signing and free spaghetti dinner was a bust. Nobody came. This was Carol’s third signing that no one came to. Including the guy from the town (whose name she didn’t recall) who had published his first sci fi book. “You’d think he’d have at least some friends,” she said.

Actually, there were six of us: Carol and her husband, along with Tammy, the seamstress who is sharing Carol’s space while she gets her business back on its feet, Tammy’s husband and his brother, who wore a Vietnam vet’s hat and spoke little. Actually, both Tammy’s husband and his brother wore ball caps until partway through our spaghetti dinner, when Tammy’s husband remarked that he heard his father’s voice telling them to take their hats off while they ate. The brother, too, obediently tucked his hat in his lap.

They — Tammy’s three-person family — are living with a friend right now. She told me she’d like to buy my book, but can’t afford to. I wanted to give her one from the box in the trunk of my car, but didn’t want to in front of Carol. She’d had a good alterations business in Evanston until the three of them decided to head out to Oregon, lured by their status as a state with the third-lowest unemployment rating. But people there were mean to them. None of the shops would let her put flyers in their windows or cards on the counter. No work was to be had for Tammy’s husband. It wasn’t clear if the brother tried for work also — but he shook his head in sad solidarity. They began to run out of money and came back to Evanston, where you find the nicest people in the world.

I might send her some things to alter for me.

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