Once you buy a panel pass for the TWLF, I understand that you might then feel compelled to squeeze every dime from it, running from one room to the next, checking off workshops, circling possibilities, slowly scanning the merchandise table in a spare moment, sure that the right gift for your literary friends is here. I have been guilty of that. 75 bucks doesn’t come that easily to me and so often I equate value with quantity, like so many Americans. I do, after all , shop at the dollar store.
Luckily, with age comes experience (let’s not talk about the bad eyesight and odd aches- what DID I do to my arm?) and so I have grown more aware of my choices, at least those that are available with a panel pass.
I could sit in the uncomfortable chairs of a ballroom or a museum through the post-breakfast to cocktail hours, hoping that the gentleman behind me would realize that his throat clearing is not discreet at all, but incredibly well-timed to cover the bon mots that most likely were what the rest of the audience was chuckling over when my ambient hearing returned. I could do that and have.
Or, I could pack up when I feel the energy lagging at the 12:10 mark and head for a fortifying gumbo lunch at the most appropriately named restaurant for a Tennessee festival goer (I believe in you. you CAN decipher this) followed by a cheap cocktail from the oddly agreeably afternoon haunt of the Chart Room, ultimately heading to Crescent City Books for an afternoon of lessons.
Once there, you meet Isabel, their traumatized but healing cat and talk of books and John Boutte with local author and bookseller Michael Z.
You head upstairs and immediately find a book that has no reason to be prominently displayed (this visit it was “Farmers Last Frontier: Agriculture 1860-1897, which is an astounding find this month), sit with your discreet, illicit cocktail and thumb through it while viewing books and book lovers, pausing to think of calliopes on steamboats and why people honk their horns so often and how creaking stairs can be both frightening and comforting.
And salute Tennessee and his devotees who bring you to the Quarter this fine day.