Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
Two twelve or thirteenish year old twins (with wildly different hair, so it took me a few minutes to notice) came in.
Twin #1: I have a question. It has stumped all other comic book store people. But I have faith in you.
Me: I hope I don't disappoint you.
Twin #1: Do you know what Flash issues Godspeed appears in?
I go over to my computer, and type Godspeed into Wikipedia.
Me: Yea, this one here. Lightning Strikes Twice.
Twin #1: YES!!!!
Twin #2: THEY HAVE WORLD WAR HULK!!!
(Legitimately, I've never heard anyone muster even 1/10th that enthusiasm for World War Hulk.)
Twin #1: Our mom is coming in with money soon.
I put books away for a bit.
Mom: You Both found the books you wanted. That's a first.
Twin #1: He knew right away.
Mom: Now the question is, do you have enough money in your account to buy it?
Twin #1: I think so.
Mom: Hmmm. You only have seven dollars in your account, and you owe me three from yesterday.
Twin #1: Oh. This is $17.99
Twin #2: I'll buy it for you.
Mom: You....oh wow, you have more than enough money
The twins turn towards each other, furiously embrace, and jump up and down.
Twin #1: Thank you thank you thank you thank you.
Twin #2: You're welcome you're welcome you're welcome.
Mom: Wow. Someone must have bought something from your store. There's another ten dollars in your account now.
Twin #1: Today is amazing!
Harvard Frosh: "I don't know how to feel about all this Nazi fetish porn."
Spoiler alert: We do not, nor have we, in the time I've been here, EVER had Nazi fetish porn.
Other Harvard Frosh: "What are you talking about?"
HF: "Like, if she's really hot. And the purpose of the porn is that Nazis are bad, is it ok?"
HF: "I mean really hot."
OHF: "You're a moron."
HF: "Not ok, then?"
HF: "But, like, Really Hot. And definitely the villain."
OHF: "I'm requesting a new roommate as soon as we get back on campus."
Dude Who Came In Earlier Trying To Convince Me And My Coworker That Our Owner Needed To Go Into Business With Him So He Could Make Millions Selling Toys Online Which Would Be Cool I Guess If We Had More Than A Handful Of Toys To Sell: "Did I leave my keys here?"
Me: "No. Sorry."
Dude: "Can you give me the building manager's number?"
Me: "I don't know it."
Dude: "What about the guy who locks the building at night."
Me: "That's me."
Dude: "Ok. What's the manager of the phone store's number?"
Me: "I have no idea. They're closed?"
Dude: "Yeeeeeeea. The lights are off. I think I left my keys on the counter up there."
Me: "That sucks. But I'm sorry, I don't have any contact numbers for them."
Dude: "Who do you call when you don't have keys and have to get into the building?"
Me: "A coworker here. Or I wait for another business to open. I never have to open before one of the ther businesses open, so I've never needed any of their numbers. Sorry."
Dude: "Can you call them, then?"
Me: "I don't have their numbers. I don't even know any of their names."
Dude: "I am so fucked."
Me: "Are those your keys hanging off your belt?"
As he walks up the stairs, he mutters "Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. I need a nap."
1.) This toaster is So Glitchy. The timer on it doesn't work. If this keeps up, I'm going to need to get a new one.
2.) This toaster is obviously broken, and I am not going to be able to toast anything until I buy a new one.
3.) I could just not eat anything that requires a toaster for a while, and just use the stove.
4.) I wonder if Selina killed it with her weird fascination, or if she was fascinated by it because it's slowly falling apart.
5.) I can't believe how long I've been thinking about this toaster without first checking to see if it was plugged in.
I arrived at home to find police officers standing in the hallway of my apartment.
Police Officer #1: Hi. We're here for your cats.
Officer #1: The owner, Miss (Redacted) contacted us. She says that she asked you to watch her cats but that, now that she has her own place, you are refusing to return the cats to her.
Me: Who? I've had these cats for almost a decade. I can call the owner of the pet store I got them from right now. I swear, I've never heard of Miss (Redacted) before in my life.
Officer #2: Are you (Name Redacted) in Apartment #2?
Me: No. I live in Apartment #3.
Officer #2: Sorry. Give your cats an extra scratch. And be glad there's no disputed ownership.
Officer #1: It's as bad as actual custody battles sometimes.
Officer #2: All the time.
"You know that guy who works at the hardware store? He was on the phone with someone, and he was saying a bunch of Pro-Trump stuff, so I sort of tuned him out. And then I heard him say 'You're going to abandon me for being pro-Trump? After I stuck with you through your whole child pornography situation?' I have to know that now. I have to know that this guy isn't just a Trump voter, but that he's a long time supporter of a child pornographer. And you know that everyone who works with him knows both of those things."
An evergreen truth of comic book retail seems to be that the first customer on a Monday morning will be very lonely and want to talk to you about every possible subject that pops into their head.
So, this morning, just after I put up the My Friend Dahmer poster, the guy says "You know. I know he was nuts, and everything. But people forget that he grew up gay in a very religious household in the sixties. That will mess anybody up."
I Spock-eyed him. (Rock-eyed him?) "I know a lot of people who grew up gay in the sixties. They do have a lot of issues/ But none of them spent the nineties raping and murdering teenagers."
"I mean, you'd like to think that. But do you know? Y'know?"
"YES. I KNOW." ended the conversation, until he started yammering about Strong Female Protagonist, which, surprisingly, he didn't say anything remotely problematic about.
Last week, I was showing Coworker a copy of the XXX variant of the new Sex Criminals comic by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. Zdarsky recently ended his run on the Howard The Duck comic, and for this cover of Sex Criminals, he had the male protagonist roleplaying as Howard the Duck, complete with mask. But the mask isn't JUST Howard The Duck. It's Howard The Duck's face with his upper bill replaced with a dildo.
So I started talking in a persona I called Dildo Bill. Dildo Bill speaks in third person, and is thoroughly awful. I don't remember any of the specific lines, but throughout the last week, I have, on several occasions lapsed into Dildo Bill when talking to Coworker.
On her break, Coworker encountered a new busker in the Square. He is also tone deaf. He also plays Beatles songs. But whereas the official Tone Deaf Beatles Guy is just nasally atonal, she described this guy as just yelling YE-LLOW SUB-MARINE. YE-LLOW SUB-MARINE, over and over while smacking the strings on his guitar.
Which inspired me to start channeling Animal from The Muppets yelling YE-LLOW SUBMARINE. YE-LLOW SUBMARINE. whenever things were getting stressful in the store.
At some point, Dildo Bill and YELLOW SUBMARINE guy merged in my head. And Dildo Bill would say things like DILDO BILL WANT COPIES. WHY IS STORE CLOSED? DILDO BILL MAD. -or - DILDO BILL THINK IF SCANNER NOT WORK, COMIC FREE RIGHT? HA HA HA HA HA DILDO BILL FU-NNY TODAY.
Then I'd go home and forget about Dildo Bill.
Today, on my way to pick up my lunch, I heard the new guy yelling YE-LLOW SUB-MARINE, YE-LLOW SUB-MARINE, and I just started laughing. Easily a dozen people in my vicinity started eyeing me like I might be as crazy as YE-LLOW SUB-MARINE. But I couldn't/didn't want to explain to this group of strangers about Dildo Bill.
This evening, someone came in on what must have been a bad Tinder date. She was awful. He was awful. She felt the need to tell everyone she encountered, including me, that they reminded her of someone on Supernatural, and told Awful Him "I'm a big Supernatural fan. You should know that about me. It is, literally, my life. I watch it, literally 24/7. Do you watch it?"
Awful Him said "No. It's not really my thing."
Awful Her said "Well, it's going to BE your thing. After we get dinner, we can go to my place and watch the first episode."
And Awful Him said "Uh-huh." in a way that suggested he not only was unlikely to watch Supernatural tonight, but that he was already planning a Fake Call to avoid dinner.
"Hey." Awful Him said to me. "What's the deal with all this shit on the back issue bins. I can't look at them?"
"Today is the day I split the books." I said. "So I have to cover up the back issues for a few hours. Sorry."
Awful him said "That's lame."
"Be Nice, Bill." Awful Her said.
AND I LOST IT.
All I could think was DILDO BILL WANT BACK ISSUES. DILDO BILL THINK YOU LAME. DILDO BILL HATE LAME. DILDO BILL NO LIKE SUPERNATURAL. MEAN LADY NOT MAKE DILDO BILL WATCH LAME SHOW. YE-LLOW SUB-MARINE. YE-LLOW SUB-MARINE. OOP. THAT DILDO BILL RINGTONE. YES. THIS DILDO BILL. WHAAAAAA? THE JOKER POISON GOTHAM WATER SOUP-PLY? NEED DILDO BILL HELP FIXING? OK, BATMAN. DILDO BILL BE RIGHT THERE. SORRY MEAN LADY, DILDO BILL MUST GO GOTHAM. CAN'T WATCH SILLY TV SHOW WITH YOU.
And then I imagined him making whooshing noises, as he sprinted up the stairs, never to be seen in this store again.
If she never comes back, either, I shall consider it a win.
A dad in his thirties comes in with a six or seven year old on a leash. The retail employee senses trouble.
It's not a leash,exactly. It's not around the kid's neck. It's toddler handcuffs. They're plastic. They probably don't chafe. As much as metal.
A dad in his thirties comes into a store with his sixish year old son handcuffed to him . But, you know, big goofy, colorful plastic handcuffs with a two foot long cord, so it doesn't look as terrible as it is.
A dad in his thirties comes into a store where there is one employee, and one former employee on a ladder...
The former employee loves to stand on ladders. Earlier in the day the current employee got up on a ladder and made a joke about how he wasn't like that former employee who just went around standing on ladders for no reason. He clearly Bettlejuiced the former employee who is now standing on the fucken ladder.
...and the dad is followed by two also bearded, also thirty-something dadbros. No other kids.
The handcuffed kid is crying. "I want Pigget. Give me Pigget."
The dad with the handcuffed son says "We didn't get Piglet. Remember? You weren't good enough for Piglet."
I am not a dad. I do not know what this kid's behavior is like. I do not know their financial situation. It is not yet for me to judge how the dad is handling the Piglet crying. This could be totally legit. You know, without the toddler handcuffs.
The dad turns to me. "This is his mom's fault. Bitch has to mention Piglet. he doesn't even know who fucken Piglet is."
I am now judging him. In my experience, misogynists are rarely good parents. Particularly when they misogyne in front of their seven year old handcuffed kids.
The dad and his short prisoner wander around the store, coming perilously close to knocking my former coworker off her ladder. She doesn't notice this. The air is thin up in ladderland. The ground is another terrible world.
The handcuffed child sees a series of Pops and Dorbz. He wants one. Dad says "You don't even know who they are." which, again, might be reasonable without the context of the misogyny and the handcuffs.
The handcuffed child says "Huck."
The handcuffer dad says "Hulk. That's close, though. Good. Uncle Stan will get that for you." And then, to me. "That was pretty good. He was non-verbal until a few months ago."
I do not reply with "Maybe he just didn't want to talk to his shitty dad." but I think it really loudly.
Uncle Stan says "I'll get him the Hulk. But if he cries about Piglet again, I'm going to throw it into traffic."
I don't like Uncle Stan, either.
The group inoffensively talk about Comic Con both to me, and each other. Again, without context, their conversation is fine. With context, I hate them.
The handcuffed child says "Huck."
The handcuffer dad says "Be patient."
The handcuffed child says "Pigget."
The handcuffer dad leads the kid out of the store. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt (which he doesn't deserve) that he took him out of the store so that Uncle Stan wouldn't hear him talking about Piglet and refuse to buy the Hulk.
With the Escaped Convict Family gone, Uncle Stan starts talking to me about comics he's looking for. Again, without context, his conversation starts fine.
While Uncle Stan rambles about books he can't find anywhere, my former coworker finally descends the ladder. She has been up there since the late Cretaceous Period.
Uncle Stan says "We don't have comic stores like this where I'm from." I do not ask him where that is.
Uncle Stan says "Where I'm from, we have a church basement where once a week, they pull out hundreds of long boxes and some specialty items."
Uncle Stan says "They had this really cool signed Spider-Man plate that I wanted, but it was $1500."
"That's a lot of money." I say. "That's a lot of money to spend on Spider-Man plates."
"That's three antique guns worth of money." Uncle Stan says. "I'd rather have guns than Spider-Man plates."
I really want Uncle Stan to buy his shit and leave.
Uncle Stan asks "Do you collect guns?"
"No." I say. "I don't collect guns."
Uncle Stan says "Where I'm from, a lot of collectors double-dip. Comics and guns, coins and n...paraphernalia."
Is Uncle Stan a Fucken Nazi? Of course Uncle Stan is a fucken Nazi. Of course Handcuffy Dad has a friend he calls Uncle Stan who is a fucken Nazi. Handcuffy Dad? Probably also a Nazi.
Today? Nazis in the store to-fucken-day?
I don't know they're Nazi fucks. Maybe he was embarrassed to say Naruto to me? Neopets? If Uncle Stan and Handcuffy Dad hadn't been otherwise shitty, would I have even assumed the "n" paraphernalia was Nazi?
Uncle Stan returns to talking about humdrum humdrum whatever comics that he couldn't find. Very polite. Talks more about Comic Con. Nothing offensive. Regular conversation.
Is Uncle Stan a Nazi Fuck, though? I mean, I think so. I definitely think so. Don't Nazi Fucks just look like anyone now? No visible racist tattoos. No Klan hoods. No racist shirts when they are just out buying comics like regular people. Like Nazi Fucks are regular people.
Uncle Stan pays for his comics with a Hundred Dollar Bill. It was not the last one in his thick wallet. I don't know what Uncle Stan does for a living, but he appears to be loaded.
The Third Man, who has been Entirely Silent for the entire trip says "Stan, you should tell him about the Hulk vs. Wolverine statue you bought."
Uncle Stan says "It's huge."
"Could barely fit it in the car." Third Guy says. "We almost had to tie Tiernan on the roof."
Uncle Stan says "If he mentions Piglet again, I'm going to tie him on the roof for real."
Third Guy says "I told him he should have Stan Lee sign it. Stan Lee was Right There."
Uncle Stan says "But it was too big."
Third Guy says "The base, then."
Uncle Stan says "But I don't think Stan Lee created Wolverine. It was someone else."
"Len Wein" says my former coworker who is on the floor like a reasonable human being, and not up on a fucken ladder.
Uncle Stan does not acknowledge her. She does not appear to notice. "Chris Claremont or someone." He says.
"Len Wein." I say.
"Really?" Uncle Stan asks. "Huh."
Me on phone: "Hi this is Adam calling from the comic book store."
Person on other end: "Are you calling to let me know that My Lesbian Experience finally came in?"
These conversations are why I keep coming back to this ridiculous job.