by Jas Faulkner
“I thought you had those all the time,” I said.
“Oh, we do. But the ones during the school year work a little different from the ones we have in the summer. We get to pick out our own movies and have giveaways when there’s no school.”
I’ve seen their giveaways. Rather than one expensive thing that everybody covets and only one person gets, they tend to find something they can afford to give to anyone in attendance who wants it. At the end of their events the crowd leaves with books, bookmarks, and other goodies in hand courtesy of Magnolia Square Books and The TikTok KitKat Cafe.
Of course there is always something the girls and George ask in return. Sometimes it’s an hour or two everyone’s time for some consciousness raising about diabetes or the environment or aging or fitness or even a little dose of stealth sensitivity training. Sometimes the cost for an evening of film, talk, books, and biscuits is a bag of empty recyclables that are loaded into the back of George’s van so he can take them to the recycling center in Jackson the next day. “It’s a win-win situation,” explained Sam, “We get to use the store as a force for good and we have a healthy little boost to our bottom line and…”
Tab took the phone while Sam talked to the mailman.
“…and it renews interest in coming in here. People think we’re all antiques and collectibles and forget they can get a good reader copy of a paperback for two to three bucks. Those that can buy books, do. Sometimes they haven’t bought a book in a while. I’d say we sell to…what do you think, Sam? Two out of three people? Yeah, that’s about right, so if we get around a hundred people in here, we end up with roughly sixty-odd sales on top of the freebies.”
“And that’s in the Summer?”
“Yes. During the school year, we get the reading lists and try to host nights for various grade levels. Last weekend we showed “Sense and Sensibility” and George made up some really gorgeous tea trays.”
How does such an event go over? I was sure they didn’t get many if any boys.
“Not a one,” Tab said. “I have to admit it was on purpose, we wanted to do something girly and dainty. We’re going to show “The Business of Fancydancing” and give away some Sherman Alexie books later in the Fall.”
There was a pause.
“We decided to show the 1995 feature version of Sense and Sensibility rather than the five hour BBC version.” Tab sighed. “It left something to be desired. Some of the girls thought Hugh Grant was developmentally delayed. When Willoughby left suddenly, and Marianne, Margaret, and the Mom all slammed into their rooms and Elinor is left sitting on the stairs drinking her tea and listening to them weep…you remember that scene? Well, it was almost too much for some of the girls. They found the Dashwood women a bit soft.
“I can see that,” I tried to be helpful, “We’re talking teen aged girls in 2013.”
“The moms and one of the teachers were better overall, but…”
“One of the moms snapped at Marianne for snubbing poor Colonel Brandon. It led to a chorus of women demanding to know if Marianne was not aware she was giving the brushoff to ALAN RICKMAN? How could anyone pass up ALAN RICKMAN?” WHAT WAS WRONG WITH HER?”
“We had to stop the movie until they calmed down. I think some of the kids were a little embarrassed.”
“What happened when the Colonel read poetry to Marianne and then whispered in her ear?”
“George had pans of brownies ready to pass around. I think that scene got Sam’s attention as well.”
In the background I heard Sam declare that boys were icky.
Tab cleared her throat and continued.
“George is a keeper. And we had the tea party and gave away laminated bookmarks.”
“Did anyone decide to take home some Austen?” I asked.
“We didn’t do too bad on that front. You know we stay open an hour after the movie and let people shop and mingle. The Austen books did okay, but we actually did better with books on costumes, the Dover spinner of paper doll books was nearly bare and small books of poetry by any author on any subject were gone.”
“If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’. Bubba probably came back from fishing with his buddies was expected to read a sonnet.”
“That’s kind of sweet,” I smiled at the mental image of that happening in various kitchens around their little Mississippi town.
“There are a lot of good guys around here,” I could hear the smile in Tab’s voice. “I’m sure most of them obliged.”