Specifically, I had to give a short speech introducing veteran journalist and author Jed Horne for his talk and reading at the Miami Book Fair International.
It was a pleasure to meet the guy. His day job is metro editor at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and he shared a Pulitzer Prize with his colleagues for their coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.You want to read a thorough, gut-wrenching, apolitical account of what happened in N'awlins? Read this man's book: Breach of Faith, Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City.
Anyway, the speech and lecture aside, the Book Fair International is one of my favorite times of year in Miami. I love it. It's like being in a candy store, surrounded by thousands of books on sale for next to nothing.
And it was great to see literally hundreds of parents there with kids in tow. Refreshing. I know I sound like an old man, but so many kids don't give a crap about being literate these days. So it was cool to see kids who wanted to get hooked on something like phonics.
But here's a matter of etiquette I can't figure out: Who moves out of whose way when throngs of people are coming toward each other in a crowd?
My wife and I were joking about this, because she came with me. We got to the fair about an hour early, so we could check things out before my session w/Jed Horne. And we held hands so as not to lose each other in the thick crowds.
At any rate, after about 15 minutes it occurred to both of us that every few seconds we had to let go and separate in order to let another couple pass between us, or to let an individual or maybe even a small cluster of people pass between us. Not once did any other couple, group, or individual step aside to let us pass.
In one case a woman walking toward us even came to a dead stop until we split so she could pass between.
I know why I/we step aside: instinct. My folks way back in the day just sort of hinted that it was courteous to step aside and let someone else pass you. They just said it was a gracious gesture, regardless of who should "get to go" first. But I wonder if there's a rule that applies, 'cause I'll be damned if I have ever (at least since I moved to South Florida) had someone in a crowded setting (especially the mall) move out of my way.
Meanwhile, I'm scratching my head, watching other couples not miss a beat and asking myself "Why didn't I restrain myself and wait for them to move out of my way?"
It all reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry's suspected phone sex operator girlfriend wouldn't spot Elaine even a single square of TP, when the two women found themselves in adjoining bathroom stalls and Elaine's roll was empty.
Not a square - or in this case, an inch - to spare.