Well, here we are, just a week from the big Preview. Do you remember all those things I told you about in previous columns? Do they leave you sleepless at night, wondering whether you’ll get here in time to see the Ingrid Bergman autograph or the magazines for magicians? Sorry about that, but that was, after all, the fiendish plot.
Do you remember the times and days (4-8 P.M. on July 26, IF you’re an Associate at the right level; 12-8 Thursday and Friday, 10 to 6 Saturday and Sunday)? Do you recall my mentioning that the whole affair is indoors, so whatever Chicago decides to have in the way of rotten weather that weekend, we are AIR-CONDITIONED and out of the wind and rain. (No, sorry, you can’t come inside and wait if it’s raining. This is NOT part of our fiendish plot: we don’t want to risk your health before you spend your money.)
Have you practiced? Have you honed your stealth movements so that you can press along quietly but steadily toward the Settlement Cookbook or the postcards or even The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood without resorting to violence? This is OUR weekend, after all: YOU aren’t allowed any plots that are too fiendish.
Are you equipped with a couple of shopping bags, in case we run out? (Always bring at least one more than you think you’ll need. Trust me on this: it’s another part of the fiendish plot.) Have you trained your children in the best sort of conduct at a public Book Fair? (Be polite, always says “Excuse me” when in a hurry, and when you see something you want, scream until your parents have to buy it.)
Most of the big categories are where you remember them: Children’s Books are in Room 5, Mysteries in Room 4, Literature and History in Room 6, and so on. The restrooms are in the same places, though the drinking fountain is gone. A water dispenser will take its place, but PLEASE don’t carry the cup around with you. The ghost of the Cemetery Lady (who used to order you out of the room if you were carrying flowers near the Collectibles) will swoop down upon you and whack you with her cane.
Please remember, too, that although the white-haired blogger in the white and purple apron is glad to see you, he cannot be counted on for any witty backchat. He is running on four hours of sleep and is on his way to fix a bookcase, assure someone that Jimmy Stewart’s autograph is SO worth that, or showing someone where to find the pricetag on that rare cast album of Kiss Me Kate. (Patricia Routledge? Hyacinth Bucket?)
I guess most of you have ridden in this rodeo before, so all you really need to know is when to show up and how to pay (cash, check, most major credit cards: yes, we do take either stripe or chip cards.) I’ll sign off and let you get back to planning your strategy. I’m diving in at the deep end now. If I survive the swim to August, I’ll let you know how it all came out, how much I appreciated you buying that $4500 treasure, and what your friends and neighbors told me about you in passing.