Between the Books

Last week I was in the room of discarded books at my local library, scouring the shelves, when an interesting lady came around the corner. She was an older woman, wearing a black dress and low, black pumps. She even wore a black hat—the netted, funeral, boxlike type. I made room for her, and as she walked past me in the narrow aisle, I heard her humming to herself. I was intent on spine-scanning, but I thought the humming was nice because I hum all the time.

Old Books in the library
Old Books in the library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She picked up a book, started flipping through it, and quietly chuckled to herself. I looked up from my book to glance at her. Most people do not start laughing to themselves immediately after opening a book unless they want to get your attention. Well, she had my attention, kept her nose in the book, and went on humming. It was a cookbook.

Being the judgmental sort that I am, I thought, “She’s probably not all there,” and turned back to my spines. She placed the book back in the shelf decidedly, walked by me with a polite, “Excuse me,” and left the room. I concluded she was eccentric. That’s when this quiet little thought slipped into my head: “I bet she’s a writer.”

I told Realm about this, and he asked, “What did she do that made you think that?”

“I don’t know… the humming, the classy outfit, the little laugh to herself. I can see myself doing that when I’m older. I mean, being eccentric.”

“So, you’re saying you plan to be eccentric?” he asked with an eyebrow raised.

McReynolds, Miss Haldane, Haldane  (LOC)
I think a hat like this would make me very happy. (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

“I don’t plan to be, but I know I will be. Most people, as they get older, become more persnickety and take on odd habits. I intend to embrace it.”

He shrugged. “I guess I can see that, but how eccentric are we talking here?”

“Well,” I thought aloud, “someday I want to wear just what I want to wear—and hats are one of those things I think I’ll probably start wearing as I become more eccentric. I will dress up to go places like the library, and I will dress down when I go to formal events. Really, it ought to be that way. The formal occasions are more uncomfortable because of pinching shoes and things. I don’t mind if my shoes pinch when I’m on a short outing to look at books, though.”

We were silent for a bit, and then he said, “I still haven’t figured out how, exactly, being eccentric and being a writer go together…”

“I guess they don’t,” I admitted with a shrug. Then I added in a dramatic whisper, “Maybe she’d just buried her third husband that morning and was indulging in a quiet laugh of triumph between the books.”

He shook his head at me as I chuckled to myself and returned to my humming.