Izzy had many thoughts about money: “It’s not fair,” he would say, “Look at me. I’m a good man. I am healthy. I am full of life. I have been in business five years. I am still poor. My mother has never given up hoping that someday I’ll change my mind and become an accountant. ‘You know, Israel,’ she’ll say, ‘there’s still time.’”
Let me describe the shop. The shop sells folklore in all shapes and forms: books, records, instruments, magazines, gossip. The retail space is about ten feet wide and sixteen feet long. There is also a back room that is about ten feet square.
The back is the most important part. The back has the best toilet on the street and people will sometimes come in for no other reasons than to use the toilet. The back has a fireplace of which Izzy is inordinately proud. We used the fireplace for burning stuff like old newspapers and cardboard boxes, but occasionally for burning stuff like circulars other people had paid us to send out. Two thousand circulars take a long time to burn and make a nice fire.
The mantle over the fireplace is covered with souvenirs and papers and other stuff so important that it can not possibly be thrown away. There are always a couple partially assembled musical instruments, an antique writing box, an attaché case, and two cans full of his special wood dye. On top of all this - wadded up in the corner - is his bedding, because at times Izzy didn’t have a place to live, so when he closed the store he just put the bedding on the floor threw some more circulars on the fire and went to sleep.
The back room is crowded even when there are no people in it. For some reason when people come into the store the back seems the most desirable of all places and that’s where they congregate. The back fills up quickly.
Invariably when there are fifteen people jammed in talking and violating the No Smoking Rule (Izzy can’t stand the smell of smoke but if you are his special friend or a girl you can smoke anyway and he will only make faces). Then, at that very moment he will decide he wants something - Right Now!
If you can’t find that something immediately the accusations will begin: “You threw it out. I told you it was important! You threw it out! It’s not fair! Why does everything happen to me?”