The thousands upon thousands of children’s storybooks that merrily surround customers at Reed Books/The Museum of Fond Memories count for nothing when pitted against the creative and spontaneous imagination of children left to their own magical meanderings.

I’m in front of this particular CVS store, one that sports those automatic sliding aluminum-and-glass doors, doors that open and close depending upon who or what triggers the electric eye that never blinks.

Only the small girl standing inside near the door has no inkling of what makes these doors open and close, so when she moves near them in order to go outside, they quickly and Star Trekkily whoosh open. She stands looking up at the doors in abject wonder and surprise and backs away to get a better look. This causes the doors to whoosh closed, thus making the little girl in the red dress freeze in her tracks in an attempt to figure things out.

She’s temporarily unsupervised, so at this exact moment, she exists only in her self-made world and must bravely use her own mind without the stiff intervention of adults. Her eyebrows go up, an idea pops like a light bulb above her head, and she decides that she possesses magical powers, just like those magical powers that characters in her storybooks use.

She waves her magic-wand arms toward the doors and they open. Now, she has proof that the Power is hers! She backs off to survey her tiny kingdom, and the doors close again. She jumps up and down, claps her hands and smiles Cheshire-like into the morning air.

The adults around her do not notice her drama, and she tentatively repeats it now and then.

Just as suddenly as it all began, the little red-dress girl is pulled by her adult companion towards the rear of the store, and the magical spell is broken.

Only she and I know that we just witnessed a miracle that nobody else will ever understand quite the way we understand it

© Jim Reed 2010 A.D.




 Nighttime jazzsinging event at the pub.

Lots of noise and folks eating and laughing and talking, waiting for music to begin, then hoping it will end soon so that eating and laughing and talking can continue.

The room is filled with clanking glasses and cubes and pftt opening fizzbottles and prowlers casting glances around the bar at other prowlers, and melancholy drinkers hunched over their fluids, and expectant fans waiting brighteyed for the next performance, and notetakers watching the people who are watching the people who are being watched.

The best choreography to watch is the unconsciously synchronized movement of the crowd as it wanders bumpercar-fashion around the spaces.

Everybody makes everybody else, if only in mind and fantasy.

These sensual ink-and-paper words will be translated into electrical impulses on cold screens for later publishing.

The jazz moveable feast/moveable fast depends upon the moon and the tide and the hormones.

The youth inside each of us disregards the wrinkling exterior.

We just move with and against gravity till sleeptime insomniatime encroaches

(c) Jim Reed 2010 A.D.



My mother took us kids to our neighborhood second-run movie theatre several times a week, back after World War Two. In that day and time, the only relief from raising kids and running a household full-time was ten-cent two-hour breaks provided by the movie house.

Mother couldn’t afford a sitter or a housekeeper or a nanny, but ten cents-per-adult at night would bring small ecstasies to her and us kids, too. We could lose ourselves in cartoons and previews and B-grade detective yarns and Technicolor musicals. As we got older, on Saturday mornings Mother could put us on a bus with three dimes each, and we would ride Downtown to watch a double-feature matinee complete with serial and cartoon and nickel popcorn, leaving her home to enjoy some peace and quiet while our father went down to the farmer’s market to visit his buddies. Five cents for the bus, ten cents for the movies, five cents each for drink and popcorn, five cents for the return trip…and we could stay and watch everything twice! A full day of babysitting for Mother, a full day of air-conditioned summer camp for us!

Since watching films was a major part of my reality, much of my idea of what life could be like Somewhere Else was formed early on. To this day, I wish life was like a movie musical, where regular people, for no reason at all, burst into song as their moods dictated.

I always wondered what it would be like to have a beautiful actress serenade me while staring me straight in the eye, wondered whether it would be difficult to stare back without flinching or blinking or giggling, like the actors on the screen did. I also marveled at how perfect the actors’ skin looked, particularly in black-and-white, marveled at how actresses could twirl their skirts high without ever embarrassing themselves with a too-revealing glimpse of underwear or flesh, wondered how actors could keep from lusting after their female co-stars after a romantic scene ended, wondered how actors could swing from vines or leap between buildings or punch each other without serious injury.

Why couldn’t life be like this? After years of comparing film life to real life, I came to suspect that they were two parallel universes, and it seemed logical that each world was unable to contact the other. Once I figured this out, I gave myself permission to lead a rich fantasy life that would never encroach upon my real life, lead a real life without its ever encroaching upon my fantasy life. I also realized that there were people in the world who could not tell the difference between what they imagined and what reality was—and that they were the ones who got in trouble more frequently than I.

When nobody was looking, I’d walk along the street in the pouring rain, umbrella folded, singing joyfully at the top of my lungs, happy all by myself, much to the chagrin of passers-by. I could act out my fantasy in real life without hurting anybody! On my best days, I still do this, here in my little world—the bookstore at the center of the Universe. Between customers, when no-one else is in the shop, I can sing badly as loudly as I please, make little graceless dance moves, pretending that I’m as good as Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind. And I can pretend that I’m the most happy fella, oblivious to the lopsided world outside, secure in the knowledge that, no matter how crazy things can get, I can still nurture my harmless fantasies and take good care of my spirit.

The only down side is that I don’t know how to impart this lifelong skill to you, so that you, too, can pull yourself up by your own inner goodwill and make a frown turn upside-down


© Jim Reed 2010 A.D.