Two women were approaching their car, parked under the pines at the Southeast branch library on Saturday. Returning from the library’s front door as I was stepping out of my own car, the older woman yelled across the parking lot, “Sorry, but the library is closed. There is a sign posted on the door that says something about ‘facilities’ problems. Maybe it’s plumbing or an electrical malfunction. Who knows?”
The crestfallen faces of the adult women, possibly mother and daughter, reflected my quick reply, “Well, that’s too bad.” I’d planned to search for a title not on my Kindle, maybe a Tracy Chevalier novel, something like Girl with a Pearl Earring I’d enjoyed years ago. Or, maybe Anne Lamott’s new book. These friends of the library were obviously book lovers too, looking to escape into another world during the long Memorial Day weekend ahead.
Dwelling on my own disappointment, I failed to remember that I may have had the perfect solution for them. In the back seat of my car were three signed copies of Mennonite Daughter with customized bookmarks. The story of a plain girl may have been just the ticket to whisk them into a peculiar culture in the 1950s. They might have loved escaping into the meadows of bucolic Lancaster County. I could have helped transform their dejection into elation. But I’ll never know now, will I?
It may be, however, that they are fiction buffs. Maybe they read only thrillers, historical firction, or romance novels. Maybe memoir is not their thing. But I’ll never know now, will I? I possibly missed a “Bingo!” moment for them–and me! 🙁
Moments after I pressed the ignition in my car to head home, I replayed the incident in my head. And then I was struck with a line from Robert Frost, who has eloquently expressed how I felt. The poet understood my precise emotion when he penned the line in The Death of the Hired Man, “I know just how it feels /To think of the right thing to say too late.”
The obvious question because we are curious, “Have you ever thought of the right thing to say (or do) too late?
What golden opportunity have you missed?