Yesterday I found myself at a bookstore stocking up on birthday gifts for Meredith (Henry Huggins! The Boxcar Children!), as she will be turning six on Wednesday. Before leaving, I decided to stop by the magazine rack and check out the latest Bust. (This may or may not be important: I was wearing a denim flared skirt which is probably no longer in style, a lime green (kind of tight because it’s been a rough winter) t-shirt, my fuschia shoes, and my Superhero necklace.)
A man approached, and I use the term Man sort of loosely, because he looked to be in his early thirties, and I still don’t really consider myself a Woman at almost forty. I typed this entire entry referring to him as Man, but I will now change Man to Calvin. Just because.
Calvin: So, is Vogue a French magazine?
Me: Well, I don’t believe this particular issue is written in French, because I can read it. And I don’t speak French. And it looks like the cover says British Vogue. My vote is Not From France.
Calvin: You’re right. It’s just that I was recently in France, and it quickly became clear to me that fashion really does begin in Paris. The people there are so beautiful. Walking muses.
Me: Interesting. I’ve never been. (Starting now, the words I stick in parentheses will consist of the stuff I was thinking, but didn’t say.)
Calvin: One of my very favorite writers writes for Vanity Fair magazine, and I believe he also contributes an occasional article to Vogue.
Me: Christopher Hitchens?
(At this point, I was 83% happy that I could scream out Christopher Hitchens’s name and be correct. That rarely happens! (15% of me just sort of wanted to grab the Bust (no pun intended) and run. 2% of me is pretty much always thinking about nothing but string cheese.))
Me: My husband is a big Hitchens fan. (Notice how I dropped the Husband thing just in case Calvin was flirting! You’re welcome, Jeff!)
Calvin (Not deterred in the least! Perhaps my brain was more appealing than my butt! That is not a bad thing!): Hitchens is a wonderful writer, and I love that he comes from a place where free speech isn’t encouraged! I mean, you’re paying your tithe to the queen and all! HA HA HA!!!
Me: Jeff (I’m now calling my husband by name, because we’re all friends here, Calvin!) recently read To a God Unknown.
Calvin: Do you mean God is Not Great?
Me: Yes. (Shit. Wrong answer. Oh well. At least I was able to bring Steinbeck into the mix, which means this Superhero necklace is really doing the job! Dostoevsky! Rachmaninoff! My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard!)
Calvin: As much as I like Hitchens, I was disappointed in that book. I much prefer The God Delusion. (He then held up a copy of The God Delusion. Seriously. I suddenly felt like our entire conversation had been scripted like some sort of unexpected infomercial that I hadn’t signed on to do. (I had string cheese in my purse, but I didn’t pull it out. Looking back, I probably should have.))
Me (not really wanting to go down the religion road with Calvin): I’m not familiar. Actually, my very favorite Hitchens book is The Missionary Position! (It’s the only one I’ve read!)
Calvin: Ah! Mother Teresa! Mine will always be Letters to a Young Contrarian.
Me: Actually, I loved that one, too. (I never read that one, but suddenly I’m pretending I have. I’m like that sometimes.) You know, one of my all-time favorite quotes came from an interview I saw with Hitchens several years ago. He mentioned that a good writer will always beat a cliché as if it were a rattlesnake.
Calvin: He definitely knows how to avoid the banalities!!!
Me: (Okay, Calvin. Uncle.) That he does. Well, enjoy your Vogue! (Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.)
Calvin: Oh. Er, okay.