Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Strand and the Dentist.

One of the companions of my 53 years is an accumulation of dental issues that require me to visit my dentist many more times than I wish I had to. I am going on my fifth or sixth visit in this round and nearing the end, for now, of this particular hardship.

For me, there's one thing that lessens the discomfort and angst of visiting the dentist. That is his office is just three short blocks from The Strand, one of the great bookstores in all the world. I seldom attend to my mouth without also finding some time to attend to my bookshelves.

The Strand can be an infuriating place. The staff is sallow and arrogant. Though if you have a good eye you can usually pick out someone who can help you. And the Strand is horribly disorganized. Its 18-miles of books are assorted willy-nilly and the great store's aisles are so narrow it's hard to browse without getting buffeted by shoppers who are in more of a hurry than you.

Last night I went twice to the Strand. Once in the six minutes I had before my appointment, and then for an hour after the drilling, scraping, poking and rinsing.

The Strand was important to my career when I was younger. It was just about half a mile from an agency where I worked, and I'd go there at lunchtime and buy every old awards annual I could put my hands on. Last night I saw a mint edition Art Director's annual, in its original box, from 1965. We are currently on annual 89. I think this one was 45, though my math could be wrong. I'd have bought it, but I already have it.

The other interesting thing, or sad thing, I saw at the Strand last night was a table filled with books about to be remaindered. The sign at the table read, forlornly: "Memoirs. $10."

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