She walked into the vintage record store, behind a gaggle of chatty teenage girls.
She stood out in her aloneness, but also in her dress.
Her aloneness, because while the others all seemed to meld together into one organism, she was calmly set part.
Her dress, because she wore a raspberry beret, the kind you find at a second-hand store.
Oh yes. This one was different. A challenge.
She wasn't there for the latest Pop Charts teenybopper. It would not be Arianna Grande or Katy Perry for her. No. She seemed more . . . like . . . jazzy. Something jazz. But what, I thought, tracking her as she fingered through a stack of CDs a few rows from the counter.
Something old school? Ella or Billie?
I like to say that I can tell these things right off the bat when I eye someone coming into Permanent Records. That it's my gift. That may be overstating it a little bit, but the truth is I'm pretty good at it. This game of predicting what record each customer is going to walk out with.
Divining just what it is people are searching for, what they're pining for. Musically. You have to look right into their soul.
She walked back towards one of the other girls, said something, and smiled. But it was a little bit of a sad smile.
Maybe not jazz. But definitely something older than her years.
Something classic. Something Gravelly. That was clear. Early Dylan?
Yes! Totally. That's it. When it comes to me, when I know, it's like a tongue fitting into a groove. Snug certainty. Bob Dylan.
("Is that your....final answer?" Why yes. Yes it is.)
And just in the nick of time. Because right then, Raspberry Beret was standing in front of me ready to check-out. She handed me the record.
"Did you find everything you were looking for today?," I mumbled. My standard line.
"Yes, thanks," she said automatically. The required customer response.
She handed me the record, and I looked down at the cover.
Selena Gomez. Her new album. Revival.
"This is what you came in looking for?"
"Totally. Like, I love her. I follow her on Insta. She is like, my life."
"Right. Of course you do. Well. OK."
"Cool hat, by the way."
"Oh. Thank you! I thought it was super-cute. Serena wears one just like it in her Hands To Myself video. I had to have it."
"Right. Thought I recognized it."
"Laters!" And she was gone.