|Tolstoy and his wife, Sofya|
I had stormed out of the house, the other night, miffed and annoyed and needing a break. And damn if I didn't jump in the car, the decidedly unsexy, unfreedom-like car, without my cellphone because who cares if they get nervous and wonder where I've gone and whether I'll be all right and I certainly couldn't go back inside and get the phone, I'd lose my face so I drove and drove some more. I grabbed a copy of The Best American Essays, edited by Christopher Hitchens in the Barnes and Noble and took the escalators (why so much glamour in a bookstore?) up twice to the coffee cafe and there I ordered an iced tea and a dried up scone in a paper bag and sat down to read and continue saving my face. I read the first essay The Murder of Leo Tolstoy and quickly lost my way in it, laughing aloud, wondering who the writer Elif Batuman was and then remembering that I'd downloaded her book onto my Kindle months, if not years ago. My God, it was good, I thought and I was happy to be away, reading something weird and wonderful and when I got to the last page I looked up and saw a man come shuffling into the cafe, not a homeless sort of man but an old man, nonetheless, and it seemed so strange that late at night to see such an old man in a bookstore cafe wearing a tan Mr. Rogers cardigan with a dress shirt and pressed navy slacks (not pants, but slacks) and belt and white, sensible sneakers with thick soles and a balding head, a few strands of white hair falling over large half/aviator, half/square glasses, carrying 2 white plastic bags stuffed with something, I didn't know and a copy of Merriam Webster's Dictionary and a Glamour magazine. Had I conjured him? He ordered and paid for a coffee while I continued to read about Tolstoy's wife and their thirteen children and whether she had indeed killed him, she couldn't take it anymore, I suppose, and those crazy, crazy Tolstoyans who lived around their master, creating a cult and taking everything he wrote away from her but then he wrote Anna Karenina, a desperately dramatic novel about another crazy woman who so wanted to save face that she jumped in front of a train, and who doesn't love some Anna Karenina? and then the old man did nothing strange so I grew bored with him and finished my tea and left my place, scone crumbs on the small, round table and went home.