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Old 04-10-2008, 11:10 PM
 
Location: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
88 posts, read 195,227 times
Reputation: 78

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At approximately 5:30 PM on a weekday afternoon I impetuously wandered into a bohemian-esque establishment called The Observatory.

Immediately I perceived that musky tang that one experiences in seriously appointed old book stores; several such establishments thrived in the French Quarter, but, alas, sadly I was thus far unable to locate any such operations in Alaska.

As such places inevitably are, there was a slightly scattered motif in the layout of the facility. The obligatory house dog leisurely lounged about, dutifully noting the traffic flow, while, perched on her "throne" (a humble chair behind a weatherbeaten desk buried under "work-in-process") sat the regal, chain-smoking matriarch engaged in a breezy yet pensive dialogue with the only other occupants of the store - a 30-something couple who apparently wandered in shortly before I made my appearance.

I crept through the stacks of tomes and perused the shelves endeavoring to map out an algorithm for navigating the place. I noticed that the matriarch was an accomplished conversationalist, as she and the couple seamlessly segued from topic to topic. Madame Raconteur apparently was quite knowledgeable, and her lucidity was engaging, if not outright enchanting.

The 2 guests finally tore themselves away, and I was now the object of the matriarch's scrutiny. She wandered over and asked if I required any assistance, and, as I tend to do in such instances, grunted a monosyllabic rejoinder. She graciously muttered something about "bookstores being meant for browsing" and meandered back to her helm.

As I wedged myself between her canine security system and the accretion of belles-lettres on her desk I suddenly found myself engaged in verbal intercourse with my bonhomous hostess. The discussion fluttered from topic to topic but the topics of maps and map-making repeatedly were injected into the powwow.

Madame mentioned that she was a historian with a particular interest in maps and that she did much of her reasearch in The Observatory inasmuch as mountains of extemely rare and esoteric documents were piled throughout the cartographic emporium. She also alluded to some map-related conferences that she had recently attended and implied that she has been based in Juneau for quite some time.

I mentioned that it was past closing time but she insisted that she had more "work" to do and that there was no need for me to depart prematurely.

She led me to a distant shelf where she motioned towards a 4-volume oversized hardcover and obviously out-of-print survey of the history of mapmaking. She insisted that I examine Volume 1, and I cordially obliged, having myself had an inordinate if not fetishized interest in maps since childhood.

And so the words burst off the pages: "Maps ultimately hold keys to understanding the ways man makes sense of and expresses his understanding of the world," and " ... as visual embodiments of various conceptions of space, maps have deepened and expanded the consciousness of many societies," and " ... maps are mediators between the inner mental world and outer physical world."

I placed the treatise on the shelf and turned to behold The Map Lady lucidly expositing more nuances of her craft. As I cascaded into the vortex of her fetching volubility, I resigned myself to being a party to this seminar for hours, if not weeks on end.

Suddenly two teenage acquaintances of The Map Lady paraded through the front door and garnered her undivided attention. She attended to things with them as I inched toward the door, surveying more of the inventory en route. Within moments the bracing briskness of the chilly Alaskan evening caressed every orifice in my head as the interior of this same head swirled in the wake of The Map Lady's singularity.

As I strode up the sidewalk outside the front window of The Observatory I glanced sideways and detected The Map Lady, her face illuminated with a million dollar grin, animatedly waving goodbye.

I responded in kind.

The Map Lady did it again.

Mock on.
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Old 04-11-2008, 12:16 AM
 
Location: Naptowne, Alaska
15,007 posts, read 25,327,670 times
Reputation: 13276
I can't believe you just snuck out of there like that. After she stayed open late and took you by the hand and showed you some specific reading material she felt was so important. You could have at least said thanks to The Map Lady.

Dude...you made her day then ripped her heart out.
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Old 04-11-2008, 03:32 AM
 
Location: Haines, AK
1,123 posts, read 3,058,938 times
Reputation: 650
Default astonishing ingratitude

I couldn't agree more. Further, it shows astonishing ingratitude to not at least pet the dog.
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Old 04-11-2008, 09:57 PM
 
Location: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
88 posts, read 195,227 times
Reputation: 78
Unhappy The cad repents

Yeah, you guys are right. I am such a cad. I must mend my ways.
Please forgive me, I beg of you.
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Old 04-12-2008, 01:00 AM
 
Location: Naptowne, Alaska
15,007 posts, read 25,327,670 times
Reputation: 13276
I think you should stop in there again. Maybe bring her a fresh pastry and sit and have a cup of coffee or something. I'll bet she's got stories that would bring silence to a bar room.
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