I know better than to take my son to a bookstore, but once or twice a year I manage to forget and then I'm abruptly reminded why it's such a bad idea. He's a bad browser like his dad.
S. has been wanting a really good book on fitness and knowing how persnickety he can be I assume we'll be better off going to the bookstore than attempting to find what he wants on line.
Unless you count the bookstore in the mall closest to our house, which I don't, all new bookstores in Charlotte are a good 45-minutes away, no matter what direction you drive in. I hadn't been to one since—well, the last new bookstore I can remember being in was Robber's Roost in Torrey, Utah. I'm more than willing to drop regularly-scheduled activities and take S. to the bookstore for anything he might desire.
I leave him wandering down the fitness aisle and go off to the mythology section for the Le Morte D'Arthur he's also expressed interest in. After a quick browse through Poetry and Essays (memo to self: add Louise Gluck's latest to wish list and look for Joseph Brodsky at the library) I go back to Fitness and find that S. is ready to go home. None of the fitness books are what he's looking for—they're all simply promotional material selling a particular diet/exercise program or they contain nothing he hasn't already learned from his trainers at the gym.
I foist the one referency-looking volume that I see onto him and leave him looking at it and the Mallory (he is, at least, fine with the Mallory) while I make a foray down the magazine aisle. No The Believer to be seen, but I grab a copy of No Depression for its cover story on Kris Kristofferson.
S. is really grouchy by now. As far as he's concerned, the entire trip's a waste and we should leave immediately. I maintain that the trip is only a waste if we leave immediately and that we ought to stay an hour at least. I refrain from suggesting that he read the Mallory while relaxing with a pastry and a coffee because he'll think I'm trying to undermine all the hard work he's put in at the gym. He and his bad mood eventually go to look at history and current events while I weave through the fiction, scooping up The Paris Book of People With Problems (tell me about it) on our way to checkout. All the while a refrain of Never again, never again runs through my brain.
A few days later we go to the library to look for the elusive fitness book that might deign to approach his standards. We do not browse any other sections. We leave with Louis Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove's The New Rules of Lifting and Gina Kolata's Ultimate Fitness: The Quest for Truth About Exercise and Health. He is happy.
Memo to self: remember in the future to take S. only to the library. Take his sister only to book stores: R.'s a great browser, and she likes coffee, but she has a pronounced problem with returning books by their due dates. . .