Art in the Cart: A Memoir You Can Believe In

And you can believe it mostly because it’s so gosh darn boring.  Keep in mind though: thanks to our new president, boring is the new cool.  So put all those hours you wasted on James Frey behind you.   And stop, for the moment, worrying that Marley will turn out to be one of those journalistic composites.   This, however modest, is the real deal.

 So, anyway,  yesterday it’s off to do the weekly grocery shopping, Mrs. Stagger and your narrator.  She with her carefully organized fistful of coupons; me,  ready for dispatch on my usual missions throughout the store.  Cheese, tuna, dish detergent, breakfast bars, stuff she can trust me not to screw up.  I don’t mind.  In fact, there are aisles I particularly like.  Spaghetti sauce, for instance, can you believe how many kinds?  Who cooks this stuff from scratch anymore?  The mafia?  And condiments, just look at all those mustards.  Anybody still use that glow-in-the-dark yellow gunk?  The magazine aisle, whoa!  You could get bogged down for hours.  Sometimes, on a deadline, I’ll just grab something as a back-up check-out line read.  You know,  in case the Enquirer looks lame. 

An then –I don’t know if your Safeway or Krogers or whatever does this– sometimes there are these carts, just regular shopping carts, stuffed with cheapo books.  Low carb cooking, last year’s diet from California, yoga for active seniors, Tom Clancy novels that weren’t worth making into movies.  Like that. 

There was one of those carts today.  I always sneak a look.  

Because you never know.

One day –here comes the memoir–  about a dozen years ago maybe.  Maybe even longer.  Anyway I’m in the Safeway and I’m peering into one of these carts and I see, stuffed underneath the complete works of Jackie Collins or somebody, a few copies of this oversized but thin book, bound in faux leather and looking pretty forlorn and out of place.  I take a quick look.  It seems to contain some interesting maps and pictures, stuff that might work for a middle school bulletin board, maybe the Egyptian myth unit.  It’s like $3.95.   I grab it, stick it in our cart.

Later that evening I finally look it over.  Wait a sec; I can’t cut this up for a bulletin board.  This is amazing stuff.  But there were other copies, right?  It’s late, but back to Safeway I go.  The cart is still there, though showing signs of being picked through.  I dig around, find two more copies of the book.  They’re cheap, but money is money.  I buy one, leave the other.  Go home, start to take a closer look at what I’ve got.

To be continued. 

But only because this post is getting pretty long.  I’m not gonna build false suspense.  I did not find a Guttenburg Bible.  I did not find a lost gospel.  This is the book I found.  And don’t even be impressed by the price tag; there are used copies around for a reasonable price.  I’m not sayin’ that this little find was important to anybody but me.  I’m just sayin’ what I’m sayin’. 

Tomorrow.

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