Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cat piss and books

"I think there's a cat here"
"It smells like there's a horde of them"

Indeed it did, for other than the general squalor of the lieu, the first thing that assaulted the senses was a stinging, clinging miasma of concentrated feline urine.

This place sells cookbooks?

Books, yeah, there's a lot of them here - all somehow related to cooking, although I'd expect a few cat lore tomes hidden somewhere in the dusty aisles. This was the right place, a culinary-only used book store somewhere in the urban gumbo of greater Los Angeles. We learned about the place while looking for a book in our favorite bookstore - out of stock, but maybe we could try...

There are about five cookbooks that I'd like to find, and there's nothing better than finding a $40+ cookbook gleaming on the shelves of a used bookseller, it's original price slashed to affordability. Sometimes the books are a bit scribbled in, with helpful notes from their former readers giving the books a sense of history. Most often, they were just unused gifts in pristine condition.

I inquired about a recent book, not expecting them to have it.

"We don't have that," the book purveyor stated flatly, then turned back to whatever she was doing amid stacks of clutter.

"How about...?"

"No, we don't have that either."

"Where would you have similar books?"

"Over there," she pointed. Apparently she was too comfortable to actually move.

So I walked the aisles, scanning for titles of interest. Ah, there's something by Claudia Roden. $35.00. But... this book is $40.00 new, untainted by constant immersion in the cloying fumes of cat urine. Back it went. Ah, something on mezze... with another almost-new price. I tried another book, one that I'd found at a regular used book store, sans eau de chat. Double what I'd paid.

Fearing that the eau de chat would soon impregnate our clothing, our hair, the very pores of our skin, we left.

We thanked the bookseller on the way out, stifling any comments about litter boxes and odor removers. There was no reply as the door shut with a wood and glass clank, sealing off the store from the clean air outside. We took deep breaths, bookless.

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