A used book weekend

I’ve struck gold on my Saturdays lately. After a blueberry pancake and bacon breakfast with my host family and a couple of hours preparing Spectator applications for the awaiting throngs, I headed to Eastern Market.

The market on a Saturday morning vibrates with kerchiefed moms haggling over the price of fresh vegetables, violin players bowing so vigorously they lift themselves off the ground, couples dreamily licking gelato in the melting sun. An elderly black man in a wheelchair who was wearing army pants and blaring classic rock from somewhere on his vehicle passed me. Behind his dark glasses he looked straight ahead, unfazed by the activities around him, and pressed on.

I wandered to Capitol Hill Books, which is so full it looks like the volumes against the windows are going to burst through the glass at any moment. I walked in tentatively, half expecting to be swept away in a literary avalanche, and instead an old man behind a desk greeted me in a drawl: “Fiction upstairs, nonfiction downstairs. There are many, many exceptions.” I thanked him, and laughed politely when he told me there were free margaritas to my left.

I squeezed my way up the tiny staircase and found an Annie Dillard book I’ve been meaning to read. Passing the bathroom I noted that it, too, was full of books. The sign on the door read “foreign languages.”

Just as I was checking out I saw on a table a punch bowl bearing a light yellow mixture and a couple of deflated limes. Bottles of tequila stood by for reinforcements. Free margaritas.



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