Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wild Ride of a Hollywood Bookseller, 2d Series, Episode 7

by Arnold M. Herr

Just thought I’d mention this:

I crouched and crab-walked my way into Mickey’s store one day to find he had cleared a flat space on his front counter and was flipping through a copy of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque by Combe and illustrated by Rowlandson.  It was an early 19th-century edition with hand-colored plates.  He was also eating Alpo dog food and drinking Reunite wine mixed with mineral water (for a little fizz) and soy milk (for the goodness in it).  Christ only knew why he was eating dog food.  “Aren’t you afraid of slopping some of your meal on the book?  It looks like a nice copy.”

“Nah,” said Mickey, “I can always attribute the food and drink stains to William Makepeace Thackeray.  This was his copy.”

“Yeah,” I said, “But who’s gonna believe Thackeray ate Alpo?”

And this:

One day in the late 1970s, Mickey was driving along one of the narrow back streets of Hollywood in his 1963 Buick station wagon and clipped the open driver’s door of a parked car.  Actually, he did more than clip it; he ripped it clean off its hinges.  The door flew off the parked car, sailed across the sidewalk and landed on someone’s lawn.  It appeared no one was hurt – no flying bodies or body parts – so Mickey did what he considered to be the only sensible thing:  he raced straight to Earl Scheib on Santa Monica Blvd. and had the car painted a different color.

But do I really deserve to take a day off?

The phone rang.  Better judgment told me not to pick it up.  I picked it up anyway.  Mickey couldn’t decide about opening the store on Memorial Day. 

Me:  What did you do last year?
Mickey:  I don’t remember.

Me:  How about the year before that?

Mickey:  If I can’t remember what I did last year, how could I possibly remember what happened two years ago?

Me:  Do you have any recollection of any Memorial Day?

Mickey:  There was one when I was tied to a ducking stool.

Me:  Do I want to hear this story?

Mickey:  Not now.  I still can’t decide whether I should open today or not.  What do you think?

Me:  Are you going somewhere, or are you planning to be in the store anyway?

Mickey:  I live here, where would I go?

Me:  Then as long as you’re here, you may as well open the shop and give someone the opportunity to come in and steal something.

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