People were pressed into the big room now made small by a bazillion tables heaped with used books, and many book lovers rummaging through them. My son, Caleb, and I were at a huge used book sale. Though we were pressed on every side, still, I felt a gaze upon me, a smiling, happy shadow at my shoulder. He was enjoying my delight at the treasure before me.
He had been waiting for the buyer. Had the book once been his beloveds? I wonder this now, but I did not know anything about him then.
This little man of no less than 80 years old, could have 90-100, was bursting with story. He perched himself near this beloved find so that he could share it with someone who would understand. A caring soul.
Two copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking sat upon the table. I picked up one looking through page by page, lovingly, admiringly. Then I picked up the second copy, the one with the dust jacket. It was my pick. I had wanted one of these wonderful cookbooks ever since I watched the delightful movie Julie and Julia the very first of twenty times.
I am in the process of reading the biography of Julia Child. She intrigues me like no one else. I love her vivacious energy. Her tenancity. Her brilliance!
I put the book in my arms. "You are going home with me," I thought.
Next thing I know, the smiling shadow at my elbow is suddenly face to face with me. His radiance drew me to attention. With sparkle in his eye he tells me, "You have chosen a classic! Years ago, my wife and I were celebrating our anniversary. Our son surprised us with a wonderful meal of Lobster . . . " I did not catch the exact name. It was French. I didn't recognize. When I got home I looked up every reference in the index and still could not recall the title of the recipe he was referring to.
"Our son was twelve when he made us that wonderful lobster dish. We asked him how in the world was he able to do it. He replied,'I just followed Julia's recipe. She made it easy for me.'"
His whole spirit was exuding with joy and pride.
I showered him with genuine gratitude for sharing his beautiful memory with me. Stunned, though, I failed to get more information. What year did this happen? What year of marriage were you celebrating? I want to know how old he is. Are his wife and son still living? If he has lived nearly a century, they might be alive in his memory only.
He disappeared before my questions were satisfied. It was one of the most beautiful of moments. I will embrace the memory of it every time I peruse my copy of Mastering the Art of French cooking. Thank you, little man, wherever you are! I smile every time I think about you.
Caleb and I left the used book sale with our arms heaping in books, and I with a new story in my heart.
Do you have a story concerning this wonderful masterpiece? I would love to hear it!