(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

SATURDAY, Saint Patrick’s Day, found me making the trip to pick up H and M. We have a new meeting place now. This place is a small mall with several large stores and a few smaller ones. When I set out from home on that morning, I did not think that a few interesting adventures awaited the girls and I at that mall.

When I go there, H was still in her pajamas and robe since they left their home so early. So our first little adventure was to get her into some publicly acceptable clothes so that we could go into one of the stores. I have been in desperate need of new pants for work. Some of the ones that I have been wearing are getting so worn out that in the right light I probably look like a skeleton from the waist down. Well, I wished as hard as I could for men’s clothes to be on sale, took M by the hand, inhaled deeply and entered the store.

I was pleased to find Levi’s Dockers on sale at 33% off the insanely high normal price. I began digging through the piles to find my size, accompanied by the tunes of “Daddy, I’m hungry” and “I want to look at the toys” and “Oh, we will never get out of here!” As the chorus swelled, we danced our way throughout the men’s department; Levi’s draped over my left arm, M twirling from my right. We waltzed through the dress shirts and polkaed past the underwear, performing daring tango dips to prevent M from crashing headlong into stage props and auxiliary performers, and H fox-trotted along as we exited stage left to the dressing room. I tried twisting my way into a few pairs of Dockers whose waist sizes I so optimistically selected. But they were not up to the dance and I had to return to the rack for the next size waiting for its chance to perform. At the end of the show I left with three pairs of pants, two shirts discounted at 75%, a pack of T-shirts, and two daughters whining for relief.

ON TO the next adventure…

At this particular mall there is a large bookstore, the kind that also has a music section and a coffee shop where one can pay an arm and a leg for Starbucks coffee and some very “yuppie” snacks with new age names. We headed straight for the children’s books to find another book in the series that H is reading. She is in first grade, reading like a fiend and currently in the middle of “Buffalo Before Breakfast” by Mary Pope Osborne. So, as her birthday gift, we added “Tigers at Twilight” and “Sunset of the Sabertooth” to her collection. M got a Hansel and Gretel book that came with a puzzle, a game and a witch mask all inside a case that looked like a candy house.

While we were there they had a story time. A very pleasant employee of the store read a story about an Irish guy named O’Toole and a bunch of leprechauns. I stood at the back edge of the crowd with the big people while all the children sat attentively at the front. Then the kids all colored pictures of leprechauns and pots of gold. I was happy to give into my childhood urges and grab a crayon and color too. Then we went over to the coffee shop where I paid several arms and legs for a Starbucks coffee that did not live up to its reputation and two yuppie slurpees for the girls. I picked up the latest issue of POETRY magazine and the “New England Review” before we left.

YOU KNOW I could spend forever in a bookstore! I would not even need food or anything else! It was Erasmus, a 16th century contemporary of Martin Luther, who said, “When I have a little bit of money, I buy books. Then, if there is anything left over, I buy food and clothes.” Now there is a man after my own heart! For you see, I am a BIBLIOPHILE. Yes, I admit it! I am a BIBLIOPHILE! And these large bookstores are my favorite places to prowl around. You might spot me there lurking about the classic literature and poetry sections. You might find me peeking into the latest journals on the periodicals rack. You might even catch me in the embrace of a fresh hardcover, my face buried in her leaves, intoxicated by the scent of her ink, caressing her spine. As I flashed you my best smile and confessed my addiction, you would scurry off to the reference aisle. There, with trembling fingers paging through the “Bs,” you would discover what a BIBLIOPHILE truly is and realize that I am not such a bad fellow after all! You would come running back only to see that you could never tempt me away from my true love. If the choice was between you and a good book… well… see you later, baby!

All right, I speak nonsense! We all know that if you were the right girl with pretty eyes, a good heart, and a mind to match, I would be asking you to accompany me over to the coffee shop. There I would pay my remaining arm and leg for the pleasure of having another cup of overrated coffee and some conversation with you. But, of course, we would talk about books! “Did you know that I also love old books? Did you know that I have a hardcover edition of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ with a publishing date of 1863? Did you know that that was right in the middle of the Civil War? Did you know that I especially like hanging out in dusty old used book shops? Hey! Wait! Where are you going? Okay. Fine. I’ll just stay here with my bad coffee and read!”

OKAY, back to reality…

In the car on the way home the girls and I munched on Twizzlers. I really do not care very much for licorice. It has the consistency of half-finished plastic or something. But it was there, so I ate it for the hundred miles home. Of course, we sang to the radio, played air guitar and drums, danced in our seats at 70 miles per hour. The girls had fun with the witch mask that M got.

Later in the day we went to Mom’s house. Since it was an Irish holiday, we had corned beef and cabbage. We made everyone wear funny green hats and took pictures. I baked a cake and we had a belated birthday celebration for H. We laughed. We joked. We stuffed ourselves with corned beef and cake. We went home.

Past midnight I fell asleep mid-poem. Some things never change.

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