Love blooms amid the stacks

The Baltimore Sun

The bride and groom are book lovers, which is why they got married a week ago at the Ivy Bookshop in Mount Washington, and why their wedding notice will appear in Publishers Weekly.

They met at the store, but six long years passed before they got to happily ever after. It was not love at first sight for Arthur Fergenson, Shirley Sussman and, most especially, Darielle Linehan, the bride's bookstore boss.

"In November 2001, during The Ivy's opening week, Arthur Fergenson, attorney and former clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, strode in, approached Darielle Linehan, the small shop's owner, and proclaimed, 'You're never going to make it,'" Sussman wrote in an essay about their courtship. "Top of his class at Yale Law School, he was not often wrong. But he was wrong this time.

"[W]henever Arthur returned, filling the shop with political and Shakespearean pronouncements, interspersed with Gershwin, Porter, and Kern tunes, Darielle would retreat to the back room, screw up her lips as if tasting something profoundly past its sell-by date, and say, 'Oh, it's Arthur.' Someone wait on him.'"

That someone was Sussman, who was put off by Fergenson's predictions for independent bookstores, but also "intrigued." "I am attracted to intelligence," she said.

Years of plot twists - divorces, rebound relationships, close encounters on dates with other people, lots of book talk in the stacks, lots of special-order volumes Fergenson didn't really need, and one electric moment when clerk and customer both reached for a pen at the checkout at the same time - passed before their first date. Six weeks later, they were engaged.

There was no question where they'd tie the knot, assuming that Linehan would consent. She'd never completely shaken off her first impression of Fergenson. But she was happy for the couple and even willing to cut the groom some slack.

"After she stopped clapping," Sussman wrote, "she allowed that he might move from hell to purgatory."

It elevates the tone

A lady spent $2,700 for a bra in Baltimore the other day, and as you might expect, it was not your run-of-the-mill flopper stopper.

Maestra Marin Alsop had a hand in the design - black background, white notes, and straps that look like a piano keyboard - and put her autograph on the brassiere, which was sold at a charity auction at the Meyerhoff. Title: "Con Bravura."

It fetched the highest price at the auction, which raised money for cancer patients in need of wigs, prosthetics and other things insurance doesn't cover.

"My mother, Ruth Alsop, was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 47 years old," Alsop wrote in a blurb that went with the bra. "Instead of caving in, she came out with both barrels blazing ... Con Bravura! She decided to pursue many of her unfulfilled lifelong dreams and became an expert potter, weaver AND pianist, on top of being a wonderful professional cellist! When her cancer returned a decade later, she renewed her commitment to life, this time opting for tap dancing and volunteer work as a hospice carer."

Alsop developed the musical theme for the bra, then three graphic designers at LifeBridge Health - Kristina Jogi, Chantrese Jarvis and Phyllis Randall - went to work.

Staci Begal bought it for her mother, Judy, a 61-year-old Washington Opera volunteer and Alsop fan from Fort Washington.

"It's sitting on a table in my living room," she said. "It's really a piece of artwork."

The well would have gone dry anyhow

Del. John Olszewski Jr. held a meeting the other night to talk about the special session. One Dundalkian who got up to speak his mind: Greg Massoni, once-and-current communications guy for former Gov. Bob Ehrlich.

"He said something like, 'How come Ehrlich left us with a $1 billion surplus and O'Malley blew it all in one year?'" Olszewski recalled.

The delegate was ready. Before Massoni arrived, he'd played old audio of Ehrlich budget secretary Cecilia Januszkiewicz describing how the Ehrlich administration was counting on using most of the surplus in fiscal '08. So Olszewski replayed the tape.

"I've never seen him speechless before," Olszewski said. (State Dems continued to emphasize this tape yesterday in Annapolis).

I couldn't reach Massoni for comment, but I got Januszkiewicz on the phone. She acknowledged that Ehrlich had reserved about $800 million of the surplus for '08 operations. But, she added, "It's not necessarily the case that we would have used all of that money."

Connect the dots posted what it said was Martin O'Malley's private BlackBerry address and urged gas tax protesters to contact The Gov directly. "UPDATE: O'Malley's e-mail Address was shut down within 4 hours," the site reported later. Was that really the governor's BlackBerry address, and was it really shut down? O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese responded, "We're not going to comment on this foolishness." I take that as a "yes." ... Even before he posted a Baltimore blurb on his Web site, Garrison Keillor let it be known via the collection plate that he was taken with Grace and St. Peter's, where he attended services last month. Said church administrator John Heizer: "He made a very nice contribution to the parish."

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