It's like a rite of passage, a place between wanting to be one, and getting to be one. While I'm driving there I think I'll wet my pants. My thighs are clamped together under the steering wheel and my chest is making that fuzzy pattering pumping explosive whomba feeling--the feeling of a first date, a frenzied burning urge to pee, and it's pleasurable, like salivating before biting dark chocolate or kissing the first time.
Just walking through the double glass doors into the vestibule brings on another urge to wet. I could pee right now...opening my senses to the onslaught--the smell of new books. I'm dizzy. About five hundred thousand new books stacked and racked, open to my feverish eyes, my touching. I imagine the book section of my brain madly freeing cells up, plumping them up to take in new titles; words swirl, fast as the eye can see, settle in my head. I can't hope to see them all in just one hour.
There are men in sight, over in the music section, headsets on, a muscled bent shoulder in Classic Rock, a dark curly head in Jazz, but I'm not paying attention to them just yet. "For you girl, there's just not enough love in the world," Don Henley is singing in my head. I change it to "for you girl, there's just not enough books in the world."
I actually do have to pee. That sustained, taut, tingly sensation of needing to go, holding back the stream with all my might. Power walking to the back of the store. I almost crash into a Rasta type guy near the yoga stand. He smells like straw and fields and hair.
Later, I'm calmer, got my hands on several books, snuck a sniff inside the new "Thirteen Ways to Look at the Novel," by Jane Smiley. I use my sense of smell everywhere always, and no place better than a huge bookstore, surreptitiously smelling the books' covers and innards, even the oak of the shelves and the coffee stain on the tables. The people all smell far better here than in the grocery store, than in the gym, even better than soap under a lover's collar.
Smelling deeply and fighting the urge to pee are symptoms of my book fetish.
Sometimes I want to be an author so much I think I'll die from it like it's a disease, or die before it happens. Then again, the place between wanting to be one, and getting to be one, an author--the repeating "rite of passage, the rituals which differentiate one phase of life from another"--is a torment of the senses which cannot be replaced by a mere by-line.