Readers are the salt of the Earth.
You would think, O Best Ones, that it goes without saying. But, actually, it bears repeating, with emphasis.
Readers are the pebble-like grinding sea salt you get at the finest chain restaurants on Earth.
Readers are handsome. They tip at 20 percent. They liven up dreary days by dropping well-timed witty bon mots into conversations. They smell nice.
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Readers are gallant. They dance to the fast songs, too. They tell new neighbors what day trash is picked up. They let their dogs sleep on the bed.
And, most of all, readers are kind. Let me tell you about the kindest reader I ever met.
About 20 years ago, I was at a used book sale in Atlanta. Like any veteran of used book sales, I was down on my knees looking through the replenishing boxes they keep under the tables.
A woman was doing the same beside me. Suddenly, she jerked a book out of a box and said something like, “Oh, my god!”
I looked over at her. She held the book out to me. It was a paperback titled, “The Search for Joseph Tully.”
“I’ve been looking for this for 10 years,” she said.
I took it. Looked at the cover. Then back at her excited face.
I pressed the book against my chest and said, “Well, maybe now you can find a copy for yourself.”
She smiled. As a reader herself, she appreciated the well-timed witty bon mot I had dropped into the conversation. I started to hand the book back, but she waved her hands.
“No, no,” she said. “You keep it. Read it. It’s great.”
I tried to protest, but she wouldn’t change her mind. She had looked for it for a decade, but it meant more to her that someone else enjoy it for the first time than for her to re-enjoy it.
So I bought it. And I read it.
Twenty years later, my memory of the book is a blank page. I couldn’t even remember the title, until my buddy Harriet Comer did some research for me. I can’t remember the plot. I can’t even remember the genre.
I’ll never forget that woman, though.
To contact writer Randy Waters, call 744-4240.