Some­times you just gotta know

Chicago Sun-Times - - NEIL STEINBERG -

There it was. A small ad­ver­tise­ment in the Reader: “My­opic Fine Books” at 1564 N. Mil­wau­kee. It stopped me cold. “My­opic?” Doesn’t that mean “short­sighted?” “Short­sighted Books”?

With a sigh, I reached for my Ox­ford Amer­i­can.

“ my-o-pi-a — n. near­sight­ed­ness; lack of imag­i­na­tion, fore­sight, or in­tel­lec­tual in­sight. . . . my-op-ic adj.”

I di­aled the store’s phone num­ber.

“It’s shrouded in mys­tery,” said store man­ager Catherine Be­han.

There was a pause. I thought there’d be more, but there wasn’t. That was it.

“Shrouded in mys­tery — it re­ally is,” she con­tin­ued. “There’s dif­fer­ent the­o­ries, if you read too much. . . .”

The store is 16 years old. Be­han has worked there for six years and no, she doesn’t know if she’s re­lated to the Ir­ish play­wright ei­ther (“I’m not re­ally much help, am I?” she said).

“The logo is a big, huge oc­cult-look­ing eye­ball,” she said. “So maybe that has some­thing to do with it.”

An­other why-don’t-youhang-up-now? si­lence, which I filled with ques­tions.

She said the owner, Joseph Judd, was not avail­able to elab­o­rate.

“He’s farm­ing,” she ex­plained. On Mars, ap­par­ently, or some place be­yond the reach of mod­ern commu- nica­tions.

“Just say, ‘It’s shrouded in mys­tery.’ That’s the best an­swer,” she per­sisted.

I don’t ar­gue much, but I ar­gued here. “Shrouded in mys­tery” isn’t the best an­swer for my curious read­ers.

She laughed an I-don’tcare laugh.

So there you have it: It’s a mys­tery. Some things are mys­ter­ies. The Easter Is­land stat­ues. The Loch Ness mon­ster. My­opic Books.

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