Today Mrs. M and I decided to change the scenery a bit, and spent the afternoon and early evening Upstate in Greenville. While we originally had plans to visit a couple of museums and such, we got distracted by some shopping opportunities that don’t avail themselves here in Mondoville. Mrs. M hit some fashion stores while I prowled one of my favorite used media places and a nearby frappuccino preserve.
At the latter location, I was looking at a copy of Vanishing Games, the most recent (and I fear, last) novel from the late Roger Hobbs, of whom I wrote recently. I had read through the prologue when Mrs. M texted me and said it was time to reconvene. Mind you, I hadn’t spoken to anyone — I had merely been sitting in one of the comfy chairs at the back of the store, as were a few other folks.
In any case, I stood up to meet up with Mrs. M, but was stopped by two women, probably in their mid-30s, who had been sitting in the chairs behind me. “Do you know what this word means?”, one asked me. She showed me the book she was examining, opened to a point about twenty pages or so in. As it happened, I did know the word in question (not a particularly arcane word, although it’s not one you see every day), and I gave a quick definition, along with an etymological breakdown and a couple of examples. The other woman looked at me and said, “Are you an English teacher or something?”
“Well, yeah, actually. I’m an English professor at Newberry College.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Oh, my wife and I just thought we’d have a day out.” In any case, they thanked me, and I said it was my pleasure, no trouble at all, and made my way toward the front of the store, where Mrs. M was waiting.
Later, I wondered what there was that had prompted them to ask me to begin with, much less the follow-up question about my career. I had never met these folks. I wasn’t wearing a college shirt or anything, and I don’t think of myself as necessarily “smart-looking” in any sense — I’m more the lumbering oaf type, really, with occasional ventures into shambling heapdom. But in a bookstore with lots of people in the vicinity, I’m the one they decided to approach.
Maybe it’s my haircut or something.