Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
Dolphin Noise Misconstrued
No, Autocorrect, I did Not mean "dolphin onesie".
Today in The Nutshell (which is what I shall be calling the store from now on), I was carrying the table top that I put up to organize shipments and subscriptions, and as I came around the corner, a guy who works across the hall, whom I've never heard make a noise in the seven years I've worked here, made a sharp barking sound.
One of his coworkers stopped in later to ask me a question, and I mentioned the run-in.
Me: "It's the first noise in seven years. I used to take it personally when he never said 'hello' but then I figured he must have some sort of cognitive or speech issue."
Guy From Across The Hall: "No. He's just a huge asshole. Everything he says is terrible. He was my roommate for a few years, and he kept getting fired from jobs for being a prick. When I got him this job, I told him that if he said anything to get fired, I would kick him out of the house. So he doesn't say anything while he's within 100 yards of the building unless he's answering a direct question from our boss. And he won't go near the counter so that none of the customers can talk to him. He has his own place now but I think he discovered that life for him is a lot easier when he just shuts the fuck up."
I'd like to recommend this to several people.
A Rose With Sophia Rising
Random Loiterer #1: She gave me a rose. A rose??? Me? A rose?
Random Loiterer #2: Why are you so mad that she gave you a flower?
RL1: Not a flower. Have you been listening? She's been buying Golden Girls action figures for everyone, and she bought me a Rose. Everyone knows I'm a Dorothy.
RL2: No. Everyone knows you're a Blanche. But they all know you THINK you're a Dorothy, so giving you a Dorothy would have been the polite thing to do.
A group of loiterers are hanging out near the counter talking about cults and popsicles.
My Boss: "Could you tape up some of these weirdos and stick them in the corner?"
He hands me a stack of Weirdo Magazines.
Me: "Oh. Sure."
Unrelenting Loiterer: "Hi. Do you have a website?"
Me: "Yes. It has all the new releases coming out and some special announcements."
UL: "What if I want to order something to be shipped. Do you ship overseas?"
Me: "We do ship. I don't know about overseas. Take our card, and e-mail us, and the person in charge of our shipping will get back to you."
UL: "But your website shows everything that is in your store."
Me: "Oh god, no. But all comic book stores in the US have the same distributor, so if you see something you like, you can e-mail us, and we can let you know if it's available."
UL: "But what if, I like a writer and want to know everything about them."
Me: "You could look up their titles on Wikipedia, or on their own website, if they have one--"
UL: "I am a physicist. I don't have time to look up comic books."
UL: "I need a website that aggregates all comics by author and illustrator. Do you know of such a site?"
Me: "I think you'll have to design it. Right now, publishers have all their available titles on their website, but I can't think of one website that easily lists every comic, who wrote it, who inked it, who lettered it, and whether or not it's available."
UL: "I am an academic. I spend all day reading, I don't have time to look up all this info."
Me: "Do you have an assistant?"
UL: "I am a physicist. No. Do you have an assistant?"
Me: "Of course. And I'm just a writer. Not a physicist."
UL: "You have assistant? Could I loan them from you?"
Me: "No. I can't have them dividing up their time between me and someone else. You'll have to find your own."
UL: "So how will I find out which comics are good?"
Me: "Which comics do you like?"
UL: "Good ones."
I recommend a few books at random, and he decides to get Monstress. I think because I had referenced Marjorie Liu earlier, but, as much as I do like her work, I only referenced her because her book was at eye level.
UL: "If your assistant is no longer needed, you will pass their info on to me."
Me: "Of course."
UL: "Maybe you could open a store in Turkey."
Me: "That seems unlikely."
UL: "It might not make any money but it would be cool to have a store there."
Dude: Why do you only talk back to one of your cats?
Dude: You're always telling Selina to shut up, but you talk to Goose all the time.
Me: Well...it's like living with two musicians. Motherfucker is like Macy Gray. She has an interesting voice but she doesn't talk or sing a lot, so you can have short conversations, and occasionally hear her quietly singing one of her many songs to herself.
Me: Selina is like Whitney Houston, if Whitney Houston were the type of person who ran around the house at three in the morning repeatedly singing only the final chorus of "I Will Always Love You" at the top of her lungs.
Dude: I guess that makes you Bobby Brown.
Me: Shut. Up.
Motherfucker scratches at door.
Me: Haha. You can't come in. How does it feel to have no opposable thumbs, cat?
Motherfucker opens door and enters room, purring.
Old Valuable Stuff
Random Definitely Shoplifting Weirdo: "Where do you keep your old valuable stuff?"
Me: "What type of stuff?"
RDSW: "Old and valuable."
Me: "Are you looking for a specific title? We don't have an old and valuable section."
RDSW: "Tales From The Crypt?"
Me: "Sure. "
I lead him over to where we keep them.
RDSW: "What are the most valuable ones?"
Me: "If the prices aren't on the front cover, they're on the back. Feel free to flip them over."
RDSW: "Do you have the skinnier ones? These are expensive."
Me: "Everything we have for Tales From The Crypt is right there."
RDSW: "Can you check in the back for me?"
Me: "We don't have a back. If we have it, it's right where you are."
RDSW: "Could you check and see if you have any Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash? I think they're over there."
He points in the wrong direction to where they would be, if we had them. Conveniently, it's a place where I would be unable to see him.
Me: "We don't have any of those. They're out of print."
RDSW: "I saw them last time I was here."
Me: "Ok. Show me where."
RDSW: "Maybe I'm thinking of somewhere else."
Me: "May. be."
RDSW: "If you could check, I'm looking to spend a lot of money today."
Me: "Ok. But we don't have Freddy Vs. It's long out of print. You'd have to check the Harvard Bookstore and see if they had any of those books used."
RDSW: "You could check in the back."
Me: "We. Don't. Have. A. Back. We don't have any Freddy Vs comics. I can help you find a particular Tales From The Crypt comic, if you'd like. Were you looking for a specific one?"
RDSW: "One that's worth a lot, but isn't too expensive."
Me: "Well. If something is worth a lot, it's going to be expensive. That's the nature of collectible markets."
RDSW: "Could you go see if you have any Tales From The Crypt in the back?"
Me: "Everything we have is right here."
RDSW: "This stuff is kind of expensive."
Me: "This is two dollars. This collection is ten dollars. You're not going to find these much cheaper."
RDSW: "What website should I go to so I can find Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash?"
Me: "I don't know. You'll have to look it up."
He's holding a pile of EC comics.
RDSW: "Could you look it up for me?"
Me: "Sorry. Internet is down. Want me to ring some of those EC books up for you? They look heavy."
RDSW: "Oh. I don't have any money with me."
RDSW: "Are there any other stores around here?"
Me: "There's some in Norwood. Brockton. Boston proper. Somerville. Where are you looking to go?"
RDSW: "A comic book store."
Me: "Uh. Huh. Well, there are a bunch."
RDSW: "Do you guys buy comics?"
Me: "Just things from the 70s and before."
RDSW: "I have a bunch from a couple of weeks ago that I accidentally bought twice."
Me: "Yea. We don't buy new comics. Sorry."
RDSW; "What should I do with them?"
Me: "Donate them to a shelter or doctor's office or somewhere."
RDSW: "I want money for them, though."
RDSW: "Thanks for nothing."
Me: "You're very welcome."
A man's eyes roll in like two garish beach balls on a windy beach. The rest of his face follows.
Random Person: "Helloooo."
RP: "Do you know when comic con is?"
Me: "August, I think. Let me...yea. August 11th to the 13th."
RP: "And that's where I'd go if I wanted to get something published?"
Me: "Uhhh...Probably not. It's mainly a place for fans and establish artists and writers to meet, get things signed, have discussions. You don't really want to show up in person somewhere and try to get published, you want to send your work out to places."
RP: "Which places?"
Five minutes pass where I make suggestions, he takes a pen out of his bag, writes down one piece of information, puts his pen back in his bag, waits for me to say something else, takes his pen out of his bag, writes down another piece of information, puts his pen back, ad nauseum infinitum.
RP: "See, I've written this very logical sequel to Gone With The Wind. 187 pages, 1700 painted pieces. Very logical. I wrote it every day from 10am-7pm for six years, and now I'm done. It's very logical. It needs to be logical. I saw the movie 47 times in theaters. Have you seen it?"
Me: "I have."
RP: "It's the most seen movie of all time. Mostly because it's old. If Star Wars came out in 1939, maybe it would be more popular, but it wasn't so it isn't. And it was one of the most popular books of all time, too. But there was no sequel, and I always thought a sequel would be"
DON'T SAY IT
My only coworker is on the phone. I assume someone has asked him to tell him a complete history of The British Empire, as he has been on the phone since I was a small child. But it turns out, he is just being interviewed about the history of our store, which, like my mother for the last three decades, is forty-something years old.
RP: "I brought some pages, if you'd like to see them."
I don't want to see them. I fear they will be somewhere between competent to excellent. The biggest time wasters at our store are blowhard artists talking about how wonderful and talented they are, and, unfortunately, most of them are correct. And, maybe if they stopped talking from time to time, they could get enough art out there in the world that they would be at least famous enough to leave me alone.
They are quite good.
Me: "These are charming."
RP: "Charming! That's exactly what they said at Houghton Mifflin. They wanted to publish it but they said it wasn't quite in their bullpen."
Ballpark. They definitely said ballpark. It is exactly what they said to me in 2004, after they asked me to send them a section of The Insafemode Journals. I think they even used the word "charming". Christ.
They're really adept watercolors, but they are modeled precisely after the characters and costumes from the movie version of Gone With The Wind, and I don't know about licensing and rights, and who, outside of the Shitbart voter base, wants to read a graphic novel by a white guy with a character of color called Mammie.
RP: "The sequel came so"
DON'T SAY LOGICALLY.
..........................................."effortlessly, and the painting so logically. There must be an audience for it. I've been to the library, and there are so many graphic novels. Science fiction and capes. But nothing like this."
Me: "Actually, there's a local guy who did some Shakespeare adaptations that--"
RP: "Well, this isn't Shakespeare."
At this point, a customer who wants to buy something approaches the counter, and RP is very gracious about stepping out of the way so I can conduct business.
The thing is, he's Very Familiar. I know I know him from somewhere. But he isn't the usual store crazy.
After a few customers, his eyes venture back to the counter, dragging the rest of his face behind him.
RP: "This place is so overwhelming. I have a signed picture in my house from Bob Montana. The man who invented Archie. He was Archie, actually. He went to school in the same town where my partner taught at, so my partner had him come back to the store and give a speech, as the most famous alumni, and nobody else in the store cared. Betty and Veronica had already graduated, but Ms Grundy was still teaching there, and she didn't care in the least about him. But my partner did, and Bob was very gracious and did this sketch for us. He signed it to him and everything."
Me: "Archie is very popular right now."
RP: "It is? But it's So Old."
I tell him about the TV show, and the recent resurgence of the comics. His eyes get bigger and bigger, until I am pretty sure I am merely a fleck in his left iris.
As I wrap it up, my coworker gets off the phone. I introduce them, and run out the door to get something to drink, as RP is clearly about to repeat every piece of information I've survived.
I say "run". I walked. Slowly. Took my time in the store, and came back via Azerbaijan.
RP: My partner used to teach at his high school.
Coworker: They made a documentary about Archie a few years ago.
Archie, archie archie. Sketch, sketch, sketch. Partner, partner, partner. Logical.
At some point, my coworker asks him if RP and his partner were married. And it turns out, not only were they married, I was there when they got their marriage license. And my coworker was there when they got their marriage license. And I was there when my coworkers' in-laws got their marriage license. And there was a documentary about this guy and his partner, who'd been together 49 years at the time, getting married. And it was directed by the same person who did the documentary about the store that my coworker was in. And they've each seen the others' movie, but not their own.
Coworker: I don't like seeing myself on film.
RP: Me, either. My partner was Marlene Deitrich's dresser and makeup person for a few years, and she didn't like the way she looked on film either, and she was Marlene Deitrich. Not liking yourself on film is just"
...........................................................................logical. My partner was very beautiful. He was a runway model. When we met, I told him I wouldn't sleep with him, that I was looking for a life partner, not some fling. He told me years later that he thought I was crazy. But it intrigued him, and we ended up spending 56 years together until he died. And when he died I just didn't know what to do, and someone told me when their partner died they just dove into their work, so I've just been doing this graphic novel every day from 10-7 since he died. I break for lunch and dinner, of course. And I have Some Friends. But mostly it was just this, and now. Now it's finished. And I don't know what to do with it."
My coworker gives him virtually the same list of publishers that I did an hour or so previous. And he shakes our hands. And he leaves.
Trust Me, If There Were A Young Avengers Movie, We'd Be Going To See That Instead
Me: Hey, I don't want to cut you off, but I'm meeting up with my roommate to go see the new Logan movie.
Dude: Fine. Abandon me in my moment of crisis
Me: It's not a crisis. Just. I don't know. Figure it out. You don't want to be forty and heavily identifying with Kelly Clarkson lyrics.
Dude: I'm thirty-two. YOU'RE almost forty.
Me: I've got to go.
Dude: Oh, do you have to go see the matinee version of OLD MAN LOGAN.
Me: Just remember, when he breaks up with you. It's your fault, and you're going to die alone. WELL BEFORE YOU REACH FORTY.