It Happened at Hudson’s

Last week I told you about the flight from “Well, it wasn’t all that much fun”. I was supposed to leave Brussels Saturday at noon and arrive in Albuquerque by 9:30 that evening, which is possible thanks to an eight-hour time difference. But the flight was cancelled due to mechanical difficulties. A few evenings later, I had successfully crossed the Atlantic and negotiated a domestic flight change only to find myself in a Hudson’s Bookstore at Dulles Airport.

I was waiting to catch an evening flight from Dulles to Denver to Albuquerque and wanted something to read other than my French Phrase Book. (If you will remember, “I have a knee replacement” came out as “I have a bomb in my knee” when going through security in Brussels.)

I think of airport bookstores in terms of the old story Goldie Hawn and the Three Beers. Thirsty, she walks into an establishment without any money. On the bar she sees three beers just poured by a bartender who has turned away to speak on the phone. None of the men who ordered the beers are around, and so she tastes the first one. Too heavy. She tastes the second one. Too warm. She tastes the third one. Just right.

This Hudson’s was “just right”. Not too many books, and not too few. Just the right selection. I was standing behind a lady with an English accent looking at a case of books that was eight-feet tall or so. She was looking on the bottom shelves, I was looking on the top. She called back to her husband, who was somewhere nearby, “I’m so tired of mysteries and crime stories, I don’t think I’m even going to buy a book.”

I didn’t tell her, but I agreed with her. Sometimes it seems that there is nothing but mysteries and crime stories. And not just books. Whatever happened to programs on TV about people just living day to day? Is daily life too boring any more? Remember The Waltons. John Boy and his family were both entertaining and edifying at times. Did he grow up to become a private detective or a police chief or an agent for the L.S.M.F.T.? Or maybe living on Walton Mountain gave him superpowers. Books and movies about superheroes is a genre I avoid. Superpowers are no help in the real world. What the world needs are people who roll up their sleeves and take a moral stance and take on today’s problems with human ingenuity. Furthermore-­-

Sorry, I didn’t mean to launch into a sermon. I got wound up when the lady said, “I’m so tired of crimes stories and mysteries that I don’t even think I’m going to buy one.”

But she then thought a bit more about her trip across the pond. “Oh, it’s a long flight from here back to England. I like Grisham. I’ll take this one.” Kneeling, she grabbed a book and was moving around me toward the cashier when I heard a voice say, “If you’ll buy that, I’ll autograph it.”

Of all the book joints in all the towns in all the world, I didn’t expect hear that. Neither did she. “What?”

I didn’t turn around in time to see her say it, but I heard her say, “You’re not…OH, MY GOD! Yes, you are!”

It was the author of the book! And he had heard her say, “I like Grisham. I’ll take this one.” As they chatted he said that he was on his way to Deauville, France for a conference. (Maybe one on how to sell more books by hanging around airport book stores?) Came in to Hudson’s to browse and spend a few minutes before boarding his flight.

Here is a picture of John Grisham autographing Rooster Bar. Note that the lady is still working to regain her composure Click.

 I saw the autograph later. It was “To Kim and Pik.” Pik is her husband, the guy in the blue tee-shirt.  The picture was taken before the lady went to the cashier’s station to pay for the book. And maybe Grisham was still concerned about her commitment – she did say that she was tired of crime stories and mysteries – because when she said, “Oh, Mr. Grisham, I’m going to read it on the way back to England,” he said, “I don’t care if you read it or not. I want you to buy it!”

Here’s a picture of that exchange. Click.

Since then people want to know if I asked John Grisham to autograph a copy of Rooster Bar for me also. Unfortunately, I’m one of those guys who is going to like my hands once I get used to them. It took me so long to take the pictures and turn around and reach down and find a copy of the book, he was gone. His loss. I was going to loan him my French Phrase Book. I imagine he can do better with it than can I.








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