Dreadlocks. A young guy holding a sign. Seeing him from across the street, I figured his sign said something like, “Need to get to Santa Fe by Christmas day.” I was wrong.
Instead, drivers or walkers leaving the El Con Mall this morning saw “Smiles are contagious,”accompanied by a smiley face drawing.
“Wow, that’s great,” I (of course) told the young man. He had been homeless for a while, he told us, adding, “People don’t smile enough.”
I wished him a “Happy 2017.”
Back home sitting at my computer, the perfect quote from a favorite children’s book showed up on Facebook. I thought about the young man with dreadlocks.
“When they had eventually calmed down a bit, and had gotten home, Mr. Duncan put the magic pebble in an iron safe. Some day they might want to use it, but really, for now, what more could they wish for? They all had all that they wanted.”
— William Steig, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
I loved all of William Steig’s books. When I invited him to visit OZ Books, he wrote back, “Sorry I can’t turn up in Maine.” Years later, I met Steig at a booksellers’ convention. He was in his 80s, with twinkly blue eyes. He said that he remembered my letter and he kissed me on my cheek.
I’m not in Maine anymore. The sun is out. I’m surrounded by books. We’re having dinner at the Welcome Diner with friends. Someone reminded me to smile.
IT’S GOING TO BE A GOOD DAY.