Last week I had one of the regular customers come into At Second Glance Books. She’s Ukrainian or Russian, probably in her late-fifties or older and always dresses up to shop. I’ve known her for a long time and she really is quite a character. Over the years she’s bought many books from me but they have always been cookbooks, philosophy, and the occasional non-fiction science, self-help or health title.
On this day she picked up a selection of cookbooks and, as she was paying for them, she reached across the counter and tapped my shoulder.
“Mikel,” she said, “I moost buy that book of yours before the store closes, yes?”
My book, White Wolf Moon, reminisces about the Sixties and a group of freethinking folk that spent a lot of time at a place called the Bar-Ass ranch where clothing was…well…optional. As such I felt I should warn her that some of the content might not be to her taste but before I could say anything she announced that she was currently reading 50 Shades of Grey.
I’ve always been able to fire back at any one-liner or dig that she throws at me but this…. All I could say was: “Really?”
“What’s the matter?” she asked. “I surprise you?”
Yes, she did. Apparently you can’t judge readers by their covers either. She was definitely one of the last people I would suspect would read 50 Shades of Grey. We talked about variety and balance…that everyone needs a bit of escape now and then. Then she said something that really hit home. She told me that just because she was older didn’t mean she wasn’t young once.
It hit home because this is one of the underlying themes of my book and, with her, I had made the same mistake a lot of people do.
I’m in my mid-sixties and seen by some as a grey-haired grandfather that’s content to sit around and read or watch television…the same way I used to view seniors when I was a lot younger. I was wrong then and White Wolf Moon is my attempt to tell the younger generation that we’re not always what we appear.
In the words of Jennifer MacAvoy, the twenty-year-old journalism major from White Wolf Moon:
“I used to think that sixty was ancient, that it had to be the end of life as I knew it. One day I realized my mum was sixty and there’s a lot of life still in her…thankfully not as much as when she was twenty. I see how all of you are and I can really understand Evan’s theory about being all ages. You carry on with the joking and flirting just like kids. It’s such an eye-opener for me. You are who you are…and I love who you are.”
Believe it or not kids, there was life before you came along. Life isn’t 50 shades of beige…there were girlfriends before Mum and boyfriends before Dad. Take some time to chat with your parents or grandparents about ‘those days’. You’ll may learn a lot…you might even be a little shocked…but you’ll probably end up thinking, to use Jennifer’s words again: “It’s like I’ve discovered a friend that was always there but I didn’t know.”