Yesterday my darling wife and I went into town to look for Shakespeare’s sonnets and something on Modigliani. We had just finished lunch, a stir fry with Sterling salmon that I had stolen from the hotel. The dish was cooked in residual pork fat and red curry leftover from roasting the bellies for an appetizer at the restaurant. We ate it with a cheap pinot noir and decided that a walk downtown would complement the meal nicely. As we drove towards the book shop with the red awning, named appropriately so, we were reminded that we lived in a beautiful mountain town, which is something we often let slip from our memory as we hid in quarantine from the other residents. We found the people who lived there to be pretentious, arrogant, entitled, self-involved and closed-minded. They were an opportunistic people, most of them, with no desire to create or learn but to fit in and climb the social and materialistic rungs of the Boulder Bubble ladder.
At the bookstore I found an old guide to Morocco that piqued my interest. It had used up, dog-eared maps in it that someone bought in the seventies, assumingly shortly after purchasing the book itself. Finds like these are the golden nuggets of used book shopping. This is by far the best thing about being in a used bookstore. Conjuring up fictional histories of the previous owners of any given book, imagining why they bought the book, how long it took them to read it and what they thought of it. She once pointed out how special a used book was when the previous owners scribbled notes in the pages or left receipts and other memories hidden in the creases of these stories. She found Modigliani but felt too guilty to buy it at the price of “$20.00”. It was actually $17.50 but she had developed a habit of mine to round up or down on the price of certain items depending on how advantageous the rounded sum would be in persuasion of the other spouse’s agreement to purchase said item. Marriage is full of these tiny battles and negotiations. In this case, she was persuading herself out of buying the art book. I would return only a few days later to buy it as a random gift for her. I also found a tiny old paperback copy of Burroughs’ The Wild Boys, the original price printed in the top corner of the cover displayed $1.25 and the new price (written in pencil inside the first page of the book) was $15.00, an inflation that I couldn’t justify despite how much I enjoyed romanticizing the idea of carrying the small book in my bag, walking around in Denver in search of inspiration and a seedy bar to write in and drink whiskey. We left the bookstore empty handed, something that we rarely ever do.
My wife and I returned home that evening with cheap bourbon and a respectable Burgundy. I prepared the mis en place for Bœuf Bourguignon which we were attempting for the first time. She has begun to show an interest in the magic of cooking and the science of baking which excites me to no end. Teaching her basic cooking terms and techniques brings me joy. The stew took over three hours to finish, and Julia Child would have been indifferent, but we enjoyed it. Dining on the bœuf bourguignon while watching the new Woody Allen film, we sopped up the remaining stew liquid with the bread we bought earlier that day, a practice the Italians call scarpetta. I remember thinking, If our remaining days mirror this one, the rest of our life will be happy and full.