Sunday, May 17, 2009

B*****S Books Does Not Care about Real Women, just Men and Boys with Advice for them


It’s nearing the end of April and I leave the house one morning and I'm feeling like Katrina. Not that Katrina but the one from back in the day, that was walking on sunshine. I was enjoying that gorgeous spring weather in Texas that's the perfect mixture of sunshine and humidity and makes you fall in love, like it’s that cute boy from ninth grade, before its true nature shows up when the summer comes and the relentless sun heats up and breaks your heart if you don't die from a heatstroke first. Anyway, I head to the bookstore that I shall not name, before work. I was overdue for the book that I wanted by a couple weeks but I have been in self imposed book-buyers rehab, and grateful for the library privileges that come with my job. My library card is like the American Express Black Card. Books are my crack and like Erasmus, I'd rather buy books than food. I've been swiping the library card like a fiend and saving my money. But some books are must-haves. So I pull up to the still unnamed book store with my music pumping and Ledisi singing my morning anthem. In my mind I'm already enjoying lunch with iced tea, in one of those cozy outdoor spots on campus so I can simultaneously enjoy the weather and read my book. I look at the table of best sellers. Don't see it. Look at biographies. Don't see it. Every where I turn though, I see Steve Harvey and all of his perfect teeth grinning at me like 'come on girl, you know you don't have no man and I can teach you how to be a lady and rec-ti-fy all dat cause even tho' I been married a coupla’ times, at the very least, I can show you where you been going wrong and what to look out for when dealin' wit the opposite sex.’ I smile, politely, tight-lipped back at Steve because a thought is sneaking into my consciousness, the book that I want to buy, may not be in the store. And Steve’s throwback message doesn’t interest me.
Noticing me wandering, a clerk approaches. "Can I help you?"
This Child Will be Great is the title of the book that I’m looking for,” but no recognition registers on her face. While she types, I spot the political books with several images of President Obama and think, relieved; she’s probably over there as I dash to where they are. Nope, not there either. Now I’m concerned. Lightbulb. I smile. The clerk smiles back. “It's sold out, right?” That's great, I think. I want this book to sell out and be number one on the bestseller’s list.
Clerk is still smiling and points to the image on the computer screen. "Is this it?"

Yes, I say, that’s her. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia.
“You'll have to order it.”
“Wow, you sold out then? I’m impressed.”
“Oh no, we never had it in the store.”
Blank Stare.
blink.
blink.blink.blink.
furrowed brow.
blink.
"Why?"
The smiling clerk next to her shrugs and chimes in, "I don't know why we never had it but you can order it."
"I don’t want to order it. I want to purchase it and read it at lunch time, this afternoon while I sip tea. I mean, she's ONLY the first elected female president on the continent of Africa, but you NEVER had it?"
They both open their mouths to respond but I quiet them with the hand and walk away. There is nothing they can say. I march out of the store, indignantly. It never occurred to me that President Sirleaf's book wouldn't be available.
I walk around the outdoor plaza and calm down and convince myself that I’m over reacting. This isn’t sexism or internationalism or racism or anything like that I tell myself. The other book store will have it. Ledisi is still singing but not as loudly as before when I pull up to the next book store. All the way there I am preparing myself for disappointment because I was expecting to find her book in the first store. The first female president ever, democratically elected, on the continent of Africa, that’s major. Right? I park a distance and walk towards the store and before I get close I see Steve Harvey, larger than life grinning that toothy grin from a poster in the front window advertising gifts for mother's day. I give him the finger.*
As soon as I open the door the lil toddler, ok I’m exaggerating, but he’s just a kid, who was all over the morning shows giving advice on how to talk to mom's and sharing fascinating discoveries like if you want more soda ask dad but if you want to make mom happy say you’re sorry. His previous book, how to talk to girls, was a best seller and this new book is stacked from floor to ceiling, greeting me, when I enter the store. He's just a precocious kid so I stick my tongue out at his books. I find a computer and look up the book that I want. It says they should have a copy in the store. I head to biographies. Not there. I go to the help desk and state the name of the book and that I can't find it even though there should be a copy in the store. While the clerk is typing, I say softly, "she's the first female elected president of a country on the continent of Africa," in case that matters. He snaps and nods.
"Oh yeah like Sierra Leone or somewhere?"
"Liberia."
"Yeah well I knew it was one of them," I tell that little girl who lives in my head to calm down. At least he can name an actual country in Africa, he has an idea of who she is and they have the book in the store. I follow him to biographies. We still don't see it. He goes back to the desk and returns.
“Maybe it was filed under Johnson,” I suggest. He is looking in the S's and just as I am about to give up there she is. He hands her to me and I smile and hold the book close as though it is a sibling that was given away at birth and I am finally meeting her.
"Hmm, I thought it was a paperback," he says. I give him the evil eye and turn and walk quickly to the counter to pay, resisting the urge to smack him with the book. He should know newly released writing wouldn’t be paperback in the third week. However careless with his mouth, he has been helpful.
As I'm paying, he marches his pear-shaped body to the counter.
"How's it going for her?" he motions with his head towards the book and reaches for a bag that he hands to the cashier who is checking me out.
“Well they’d been in a civil war for so long she has so much to do to stabilize the country, it’s got to be daunting, but I’m sure she is having some success.”
I'm thinking: I don't know?!Do you want me to whip out my cell phone and call her and ask? Duh, why do you think I'm buying the book? But I act like a lady and smile and say thanks when he tells me to enjoy my reading.
And it is a compelling read. Maybe it should have been called, ‘This Child Will Be Great Even Though She Didn’t Act Like a Lady Nor Think Like a Man Because She Was Too Busy Being a Woman and Changing the World to read books by boys and men advising her how to act'. Sigh. Maybe Steve should have taken a break from giving advice to those sad Strawberry Letter writers and had Pres. Sirleaf on his radio show and he could have been named a chief like Jon Stewart. Tavis Smiley had a great interview with her as well.Anyway, that’s what I’m reading along with Half of a Yellow Sun and Without Lying Down.What are you reading?
*no hate for Steve he's a funny guy, sometimes,and if you were doing this, shame on you.

4 comments:

Tuere said...

Even though I feel your pain, sister, I couldn't help laughing at how you described your experience. You are a gem! And I'm skurd for the next book store that crosses you.

Anonymous said...

Great post, keep them coming! Truth be told, I didn't know anything about this president either. Thanks for sharing, hopefully everyone will now go out and demand her book at bookstores.

the prisoner's wife said...

interesting. all the interesting books are always "on order." i remember i went to get Asha Bandele's latest & they wanted me to order it. like, why? it should be there.

CiCiwryter said...

thanks Tuere! lol it was funny AFTER I had the book in my hands!

thanks Anon! and if they order it online that is fine I started to pre-order it but since I'm not purchasing so much I wanted that 'go to the bookstore and buy a new book feeling' :) She's a good read. check her out.

@tpw I know, right! it seems like they only want to stock what they think are sure bets to sell but come on Asha B. should have some books in the store! I'm looking forward to reading her new work too.