Some things in modern life are so common they become indispensable, inescapable, and, if you have the right attitude, enchanting.
On a date in downtown Kansas City, my companion and I found ourselves outside a custom linoleum shop. Having exhausted our life stories and mutual interests, we were in a conversational rut. So I wandered into the store.
I began to rattle off various facts about linoleum, its production, and its uses. While speaking, I realized I had unintentionally memorized the linoleum chapter of Bathroom Stuff, a book my mother had …