During the months I was in New York City, I spent most of my free time in bookstores. My favorite one was so huge that I always felt lost when I was there. I got so embarassed by the amount of books that I even forgot the names of my favorite authors and I stood still often for long minutes before I could decide where I should start looking for what. But I loved this way of being lost. I soon realized that it was useless to have any particular book in mind, it´s better to wander aimlessly. Still I always found there something that I simply had to have, so not only did I spend most of my time among books but I also spent most of my money on them. One day I went to this bookstore with the intention to get Ellis`s new book (Ellis was a short-term "love" of mine, and this particular book was a total disappointment, leading to my abandoning him altogether). I could´ve got it virtually anywhere, but it made me feel good to buy it in my favorite place. It was easy to find the book among the new stuff, and I found other promising books, too. I was in a dreamy mood, so I began to fantasize about finding my own (anyway nonexistent) book in one of the shelves and seeing someone buy a copy. Of course it most probably won´t ever happen but just imagining it made me smile. But then, returning to real life, I found an empty chair and sat down to glance through (even though this isn`t the right expression since I never read into a book, I start right at the beginning) the Ellis book.
I was suffering through the first pages, but I looked up all the time, I just couldn´t concentrate. When I looked up for the upteenth time, I saw something amazing. To put it simply, I spotted my favorite actor. Strangely enough, my attention focused on one thing: the book he had in his hand. My mind went blank for a while, then I decided that I had to do something about this situation. I made a deal with myself. If the book he holds is one that I know and even like, I repress all my fears and shyness and walk up to him. The book he had was The Sun Also Rises. I immediately regretted my deal cause this book is one of my all-time favorites (so many favorites at the same place&time!). but I knew this was a chance I couldn´t miss. I´d feel sorry ever after. So I stood up (besides my legs even my inner voice was trembling), looked at him (he was reading), and started walking in his direction. I was unable to take my eyes off him, my head started aching, and I had no idea what I was going to say. I wanted to avoid all cliches (as do all people who are intelligent enough to know the meaning of the word), I knew I should act casual and spontaneous. And above all I knew this was impossible. So I just walked by him and said ´Hi´ and then rushed away to a distant corner and sat down and pretended to read although the lines got all blurred in the book (and it was still bad). What was I thinking to do a thing like this? You idiot, what did you expect? Making yourself ridiculous doesn´t help going on! Whatever, I did it, can´t deny it and it makes no sense to panic any more. It can´t be true! He followed me. And he´s coming closer and closer. Now he´s standing in front of me. Look up, you dumb bastard! Finally I forced myself to look him in the eye. He was smiling, but I saw he was uncomfortable.
´Hi! Sorry to disturb you, but…do I know you?´
´I thought so myself. Anyway, do you enjoy it?´ - he said, pointing at the book in my hand. I instantly regretted that I didn´t have a more intellectual book in my hands, one that would match Hemingway, or at least get close to it. Still – miraculously – I wasn´t trembling any more, and I could only hope that my voice would not give on me either.
´Not really, but I bet you enjoy that´ - I replied, referring to his book.
´Well, yes, I´ve read it a dozen times at least.´
´And yet you don´t own a copy?´
´Of course I do, this one´s a present for my nephew.
´I see. How old is he?´
´Sorry to say but I´d be surprised if he liked it.´
´Me too. But that´s not the point anyway.´
´So you buy him a book you know he won´t like, perhaps even hate? Then what is the point?´
´Because he likes me, I know he´s going to read it anyway. Or at least give it a try. That is the point. I mean for him to read it.´
The whole conversation went on smoothly, it was like a dream, but then came this unpleasant silence and I dreaded he might go away if I didn´t tell him something soon. But my mind refused to send any message to my mouth to utter. So I just smiled as nicely as I could and didn´t say anything. He broke the silence:
´I´m Jake and glad to meet you. It´s rare these days to find someone to talk to about books.´
´I´m Liz and I agree´ - I answered, although it is not my real name, but I didn´t want to bother him with my Eastern European name that would bring up loads of boring questions about my life.
´Would you like to have a coffee with me?´
I was a fan after all, so I could hardly force myself to swallow the thought I´d go to the edge of the world with you.
´Sure´ - I answered, and I wasn´t nervous any more though the situation was still unbelievable.
I stood up, and we walked to the cash register where we paid for our books (he for his and me for mine) and we were about to leave the store when his cell phone started ringing and I heard him say that he´ll be there in 20 minutes. I immediately got the feeling it was the end of something that never properly began in the first place. He apologised immensely and assured me that we should meet again. He wrote down my phone number (even sketched a little book beside my name, seeing which I uttered a nervous laugh), gave me two kisses on the cheek, and I was still smiling although I knew that was the closest I would ever get to him. Of course he didn´t give me his phone number. I couldn´t help staring at him as he was walking away from me – quickly, but aware of the fact that I´m watching him. I was thinking he really looked like a celebrity. And then he was out of sight, probably in his car, maybe considering (not too seriously) calling me up sometime later but then thinking of something (someone?) else. I could pretend that I can imagine what he thought of me, but only one thing is for sure: he never called me.