This particular Saturday was no different, until I realized that the commotion over in the activities area was the setting-up for a guest appearance. The guest: Peter Yarrow, who would be singing and signing his illustrated book, Puff the Magic Dragon.
I'll never get close enough to see him, I thought. The thought made me sad. It needn't have, because it was false, but I didn't know that when I thought it. Bad habit, being sad before a concrete reason for sadness presents itself.
I finished my tea and walked over to the activities area, where a not-so-imposing-after-all crowd had gathered at its entrance. Most of the crowd out there seemed to be parents of the children who were inside, but some were aging hippies like me, awed at being so close to an icon of the peace movement, the folk movement, and every other movement that had made us who we are. He was singing traditional folk songs to the children, who knew the words to "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" and learned the choruses to the newer songs Yarrow had written for them.
(I could see him clearly because I'm so short that no one minds if I stand in front. It's one of those paradoxes, and the only good thing about being short.)
In-between songs, Yarrow spoke about peace, about being kind and not being a bully, about how he loves singing - about everything that makes parents and aging hippies smile. Then, he decided to invite all of us outsiders into the activities room. "Plenty of seats!" he said. As there were.
Soon after, he sang the song everyone had been waiting for. After a verse or two, he stopped, and invited children to come up and sing with him. So many children scampered over that he and Mary (Not That Mary, alas! but a very nice Mary) had to settle them into a reasonable shape. Then he asked if any of them would like to sing a line or two of the song. Many of them did. He resumed singing, pausing to let a child sing "pirate ships would lower their flag" or "Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail." Yarrow's voice became huskier as each child sang into the microphone in Mary's hand, saying what joy it brought him to know he'd written a song that children loved almost 50 years later.
And then, a little girl, no more than 2, with shiny brown hair, shiny brown bangs, and a tiny acorn voice sang "frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honna Lee," in perfect tune, with perfect poise. Such moments are rare enough to still the air, even in a busy bookstore, at least long enough for everyone present to be grateful.
* * * * * *
I'll save "bothered" and "bewildered" for another day.