Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks
Well, it was actually cloudy. Bad start. It was Sunday though, yesterday in fact. And I was lazing. Full on. Pants off. Couch on. Watching The Masters on TV. Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera battling it out for the green jacket. It’s about half three in the afternoon. Tired enough from the night before. Few boozes. Long week. Barren brain. Time to just chill out and do nothing. Golf on. Almost all my family love golf, adore it. The Hayes men, anyway. Watch it. Play it. Breath it. Always feel a bit guilty when I don’t watch a big tournament as a result. Especially when my Dad texts me to see if I might go to one if it’s on near me. One day, Dad, one day!
So I throw on the golf. Start getting into it. Handy that it’s really good as well. Tight at the top. Four way tie. Four horse lead. Courses for horses. All that. Maybe none. But now it’s down to two. Scott. Cabrera. Two holes to go. Ads come on. I’ll check my email quickly. Anything, anybody? Nobody, nothing. Just a Google reminder: Call up to Book Soup. What’s that for agai- Oh balls. That’s right. I must call up to suss out a few things. And. There’s that book club on today as well. What time is it on again – Four. Twenty minutes. Hmm. Fully forgot about it. Should I go? Only a ten minute walk. But the golf is good. I’ve watched it since the start. Can’t just not watch it now really on the last two holes. Shut up, you can, stop being lazy. Call up to Book Soup. Suss out that book club. See if anything happens. OK. Let’s go. Adventure on!
So I put on pants. Grab a bag. Throw in a couple copies of my second book RanDumber. Should I burn a CD? Handy to have I suppose. Quickly burn a CD of a RanDumb trailer I made recently. Never know who might be there. Comb my hair. Out the door. Stroll down the road. Turn the corner. By Barney’s Beanery. Wait to cross the street. Well dressed chap asks me if I have the time. None of your business, I joke. “Five to four”. Hmm. Pretty sure he’s the guitarist for Blur. Alex James? Maybe. Pointless ponder. I’m late. Power walk up the street. Sweats kick in. Back to a saunter. Temperature cools. Power on again. Cloudy day but still warm for an Irish man. Streets are quiet. Everyone must be watching the golf. This shindig better be good. Not sure what I’m actually expecting but giddy up!
Arrive at Book Soup. Cool funky bookstore. My favourite in L.A. Helps that they sell RanDumb. I’ve been meaning to call into them to suss out if they’re getting RanDumber in. Spotted a couple of weeks ago on their site that they were having a book club hosted by Jeff Garlin. You know, Jeff from Curb Your Enthusiasm. Your joint top favourite sitcom ever. One of the reasons for coming to L.A. Jeff, Larry David’s manager in the show. His right hand man. Met him before in a shop near me. Gibbered on about scripts and stand-up for a while. Sound man. Would love to have him on my show. You know, the upcoming one. Not sure what exactly I expect from this little adventure but better than not going. Worth a pop. I hope. My buddy texts me as I’m outside the door,
‘Watching the golf still? How unreal was that?!’
Balls. What did I miss?
‘No. At a book store. Way better!’
Come on the books.
Stroll in. Casual. You know yourself. Pick up the first book I see. Pretend to read a sentence. I’m engrossed by this book. Look at me. Just a randumber walking by, checking out books. No ulterior motives. Not trying to scan the room to see if and where the book club is on. Just here for books and by golly is this one goo- Realise it’s a plain Moleskine diary. Good work. Say nothing. Salute the guy at the front desk. Hear a booming laugh from the back of the shop. I know that laugh from Curb. OK. We’re on. I’m in. Spot a book I’ve been meaning to buy. Lucky Jim. Pick it up. Now I have my alibi if anyone rugby tackles me to the ground and asks what I’m doing here. Buying this book! Make my way to the back of the store. Do a loop to the right. Now I’m at the far corner of the book store. The book club is on to my right, about fifteen feet away. Talking about the book A Clockwork Orange. Balls. Never read it. Subtly ask a shop clerk,
“Eh, what’s going on over there?”
Fills me in on what I already know. I nod along, try to act surprised…
“You don’t say? And can anyone get involved?”
“Just as long as you’ve read the book. Have you?”
“Oh yeah, a few times, great book.”
“Well go get involved!”
“If you insist, I’ll go have a look, thanks!”
Over I go. Small group, maybe ten. Seats laid out. Jeff at the top. Everyone sitting around. I hear him discuss the book with a woman in the front row. Pretend to look at a book. The History of Baseball. The History of Germany. The History of Flying. Can’t pretend to be interested in much more of these history books. Time to join. Be part of the group. Someone brings up Chicago which leads to Jeff mentioning his love of Chicago and all the Irish people there. Perfect opening!
“Ah no the Irish are an awful race.”
Everyone turns their head to see who’s the guy with the weird accent.
“An awful race.”
“And all for chase…? Is that what you said?”
“No, I said… Doesn’t matter. Ignore me.”
Which they do. All turn back to the group as I pretend to leaf through The History of Etiquette book. Could be a good one for me to read. Hear them start up the conversation again. Discussing has there been a book recently that divided people like A Clockwork Orange, a book that people were enraged by while at the same time people had to read it. Can anyone think of one? No one seems to have an answer. Time for me to redeem myself.
“I can think of one - American Psycho.”
All nod their head.
“Great answer, great answer.”
Jeff looks at me a bit oddly. I think trying to figure out if we met before. Answers back,
“That’s a good one. Still though, that book was over twenty years ago, any one know of more recent ones?”
For some reason my brain brings a nugget of info to the fore. One other book I saw that Amazon got grief for selling and people freaked out but some said it should be allowed up. Not really the thing I should bring up though. Too late, mouth talking,
“There was this one on Amazon I saw last year. Kind of inappropriate but it was called something like How To Be a Paedophile. Is that the kind of thing you meant?”
Cue silence from the group. Stone cold awkward silence. Except for a huge laugh from Jeff,
“HAAAAAHAA. Ha. Is that a comedy?”
“No, just an actual book I saw.”
“That should be a comedy man, do it.”
Back to the group we go. Not sure if I’m in or out now. Hanging around the edges really. Actually a good book group. Never been to one before. Talk about books. Then tangent off. Mighty for me that Jeff liked to talk about comedy a good bit. Always good to hear insight from these kind of folks. He also says the phrase ‘That’s just a big bowl of…’ a lot, just like in Curb. Funny enough. Anyway, time finishes up. Thanks everyone for coming. People go up and thank him afterwards. I wait my turn. Look at the History of Toilets for a while. See most people have gone. Up I go.
“That was great, I was just walking along and came in, never knew this was on.”
“That’s great, thanks for coming man, it was a big bowl of fun!”
“Yeah, a big old bowl.”
“Do you write?”
“What kind of stuff?”
“Well actually, that kind of stuff.”
As it happened, we were in the comedy section of the store. And right there, head height, next to us, in the H for Hayes section, a copy of RanDumb on the shelf.
“That’s awesome! I want a copy of that.”
“I just happen to have a copy of my second book here if you want one, meant to be for a friend but he can wait.”
“You’ve written two? I’d love it, man, look at that cover!”
By now the manager is over to us. Think she recognises me. I actually need to talk to her about getting RanDumber in store there as well. Tells me they are ordering it. Jeff is picking up books that he wants to buy. I’m absentmindedly picking up books that I like the look of, keeping the conversation flowing. I have a stack of about ten books. The manager is offering me an event to celebrate RanDumber coming to their store. Jeff is giving me the thumbs up while reading RanDumber. It’s all brilliant. We’re now at the till. I put the books down. Ask Jeff if I can get a photo of him reading. He’s delighted to, sound man. Thank them both for their time. Tell Jeff he’ll have to get ready to be in the sitcom of the book. Realise now I’m pushing my luck. Hand my credit card over to the sales clerk. Jeff tells me to enjoy my good looks. I say I will. Bid adieu. Sign the docket. Books in the bag. Leave the store. Skip home. Happy as Larry with my little adventure. Didn’t give him the DVD but at least he got a book. No doubt he’ll show that to Larry David and they’ll both get on to HBO saying they want to produce the show too. No doubt. Get home. Realise I bought about 10 books. Almost two hundred dollars worth. Some of the books I already have. And the others… The History of the Civil War? Dose. Some dope.
At least I got this photo.
And then I got my money back when I went up today to return the books. Say nothing. All in all, good Sunday afternoon.
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits