I was rummaging through the stacks of City Lights Bookstore in North Beach when I noticed an attractive young woman in the Russian Literature section. She was reading The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol, one of my favorite authors. I feigned interest in the nearby books, summoning the courage to speak to her.
“I love that book you’re reading,” I said. “I won’t have any coffee today. Just hot bread and onions.”