I already had my outfit picked out in my head- black on white stripes, jeans (per usual) and Toms (also per usual) with my book-shaped locket necklace. My hair up and out of my face- perfect for windy outdoor days AND for picture taking. I didn't know who I was going to meet, or what we were going to get into, but if it's LA and it's a fair, they mean business and I would too.
We trekked through the city to USC- Mr. E's almost alma mater. It's a beautiful campus, smack-dab in the middle of one of the worst areas of Los Angeles. But that's the way the city is. You need to brave the crazy and the potentially dangerous to find the gems scattered beneath the grime. Gourmet grilled cheese? A corner of Silverlake. Biggest book fair on the West Coast? USC. And the one thing you must know for all excursions? Even if it says it's free...parking will be astronomical and mandatory. Who wants to brave the side streets and the possibility of getting your car stolen, broken into or lost to avoid paying $15?
It didn't occur to me that a book fair would be geared towards kids. I guess I'm such a kid at heart that I assumed there would be fountains of books - and there were. But we hit the kids section first. Parents and teachers, working together, pouring over slightly used copies of the kindergarten classics. Makeshift shelves with glossy brightly colored covers and pop-up books free from rips and tears. My brief disappointment (this is it?) turned to wonder as I looked up and recognized tents as far as the eye could see- around peeking around building corners and rows upon rows down paved sidewalks.
There were authors.
There were publishers.
There were bookstores and libraries and newspaper peddlers.
But most of all there were readers.
Enthusiasts of the written word. Connoisseurs of phrasing and grammar and prose. There were T-shirts and book-bags and first editions and sales of all kinds.
This was a fair I could get behind. Keep your booz-y summer fairs and your military aircraft shows. Give me a three-for-one deal from Penguin publishers and a tote to boot.
Of course, some circus animal cookies doesn't hurt either...