Saturday, December 13, 2003

Stranger in a Strange Land Bookstore

Part One: "I didn't even know it was a book first"

What a great evening. Lots of fun.

So I left here (I'm at work, by the way) at about 6 p.m. yesterday, grabbed a Burger King double cheeseburger and a DP (you'd think that reading Fast Food Nation would prevent me from frequenting these places), and drove semi-aimlessly around Houston, until I found Ecclesia and Taft St. Coffee.

As it turns out, the Taft St. building houses several aspects of Ecclesia's ministry. There is a mini-gallery of local artwork (paintings, sculpture, and photography) which was also used as the music venue. More on that later.

I walk into Taft St. Coffee/Strange Land Bookstore and check the place out. Nice, dry, warmly lit. A handful of the high circular tables popular in similar establishments. Several bookshelves full of books on sale. Some couches, armchairs, coffee tables. I look around for a minute then proceed to the counter and purchase an IBC rootbeer (partly because I had forgotten to get money for coffee before coming.)

I'm reading Cold Mountain for the second time (the first time being in my naive freshman year for Honors 101 English at OBU), and had just started the second chapter when a gentleman approaches me. He has longish blonde hair past his ears and into his eyes, wearing a faded t-shirt and jeans combo. He sticks his hand out to shake. "Hey, I'm Robbie." We talk for a bit, where I'm from, where he's from (he used to live in the area but has recently moved out to my part of town). He notices what I'm reading. "Is it good?" I proceed to tell him that it is beautifully written, very descriptive, and that while I didn't appreciate it the first time through, I do now. "That's really cool," says Robbie. "I saw the advertisement for the picture, but hadn't heard anything about it. I didn't even know it was a book first, but that's cool." He asks me if I prefered reading the book first or seeing the picture first (he never used the word "movie" or "film", just "picture"). We get into that a little.

He asks what brings me to Taft this evening. I tell him I am here to see Seth play, that I heard him at Metro and liked his stuff. Robbie says, "Yeah, Seth and I play together in a band sometimes." I respond that I think that's cool, which I do actually. He says it was nice talking to me, I respond in kind, and he leaves. Nice guy. I continue reading.

The music is supposed to start at 7:30. In my fear of being late, I had left too early and arrived on-site at just before seven. At 7:45 p.m. it hadn't started yet, so I get up from my comfortable armchair, grab my coat, half-full lukewarm bottle of IBC, and my book, and head down the short hallway into the venue.

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