Person On Phone: "Hi, I need to talk to your manager."
Me: "What is this in regard to?"
PoP: "I spoke with your manager last week about a credit opportunity."
Me: "Which manager was that?"
PoP: "I don't remember his name."
Me: "Me, neither."
PoP: "Could I speak with a manager?"
Me: "I don't know who you need to talk to. Could you be more specific about what you need to accomplish?"
PoP: "I just need to talk to someone with management authority."
Me: "WE ARE THE UNMANAGED AND WE DO NOT WANT YOUR CREDIT!"
Hangs up phone.
For real, though, we don't have a manager.
Some days I put Nora Jones on in the store, and count how many white ladies come in, bob their head, mention their nephew who draws comics, they think, and ultimately leave without buying anything.
After the hideousness that is 2016, the only way I can hold out hope for 2017 is to imagine the entire incoming administration gets so excited about all the civil rights they're going to remove, and all of the people they're going to oppress, that they all climax to death, and Obama, who isn't perfect but also isn't nearly as evil, is forced to remain president for the first six months, as we run another election cycle. But during this one, everyone who has ever run for President before is banned, resulting in America's first Muppet Administration.
President Scooter turns out to be a fair and bipartisan candidate, even reaching across the aisle and nominating Sam The Eagle as Supreme Court Justice. Rowlf the Dog is originally disappointed when he's rejected as Surgeon General but Dr. Teeth defies all expectations by both legalizing marijuana and eradicating tooth decay in his first four months in office. Janice (did you know she and Scooter were married?) becomes the First Lady, and her Dance Yrself Clean Initiative lowers the national BMI by five percentage points.
Celebrity deaths are at an all-time low because the media fails to report that the entire casts of Duck Dynasty and Jersey Shore, as well as Tila Tequila, Bill Cosby, Scott Baio, Fred Durst, and Matthew McConaughey are all felled by the Shartington Epidemic which only affected people who ate at a particular Chic-Fil-A.
Annoying Loiterer #1: Have you tried any of those nerd-focused dating apps? Jesse used Geek To Geek and met a really great guy.
Annoying Loiterer #2: I tried using a bunch of different apps, but none of those bitches ever e-mailed me back. For, like, no reason.
There Were Definitely Some Very Valid Reasons.
Random Customer: I'm looking for a book called "How To Be Happy".
Me: Hmmmm. I'm not sure if we have it right now. When we do, it's...
(walks over to section it's usually shelved on, can't find it, looks over female creators' shelf, can't find it)
Me: I can't find "How To Be Happy" on the shelves.
Random Customer: Are your shelves organized by author or...?
Me: By how some artist told the owner he would organize shelves in the 90s.
Me: No. Honestly, he's the only one who understands the system. It's really frustrating for everyone else who works here.
RC: So you can not find "How To Be Happy" right now?
Me: This conversation is getting too meta.
Two manga fans straight out of 2002 were sitting on the floor of our temporarily crowded store, chatting about gender and how, like, they totally don't, like, get, like, homosexuals (they kept using the word "homosexuals", and somehow giving it seven syllables), and, like, what even is trans, isn't it, like, the same thing as, like, homosexuals anyway?
And I don't want to dress down these two backwards capped idiot thirty-somethings in their flannel and ignorance but I'm starting to get heated.
And then, like, they start to, like, talk about how, like, manga isn't even, like, a thing anymore. And isn't it , like, dorky that they're even, like, looking at it. Hahaha.
But they're not looking at it, they're sitting on the floor with the books open, talking to each other about reading it.
And one of them says, "We used to do this all the time at Border's. It was so much fun. What ever happened to Border's? I haven't seen one in, like, forever."
And My Hero, a guy who'd been in the store for their whole performance, said "They went out of business because people like you sat in the middle of the floor and never bought anything."
And then left.
Without buying anything.
He bought something.
And then the store emptied out.
The spy-themed bar down the street from my house was unexpectedly rife with fifty year old bros watching sports, so Austin and I headed towards Porter, in search of a bar that was not too full but also not mostly empty, except for well-dressed senior citizens.
We made it all the way to Porter where, as I have discussed with roommates and friends, I never think to go to be social, even though it's well within walking distance.
The Newtown Grille is, as Austin mentioned, like a sports bar in the south, if it had slightly more updated tables, and, as I pointed out, less peanut shells on the floor.
We had some very good drinks and some perfectly acceptable fries and mozarella sticks, but....BUT...
For the first time since the 90s, I heard Dave Matthews Band playing in a bar. This is suprising, but not Hellish. If it were followed up with Blues Traveler, Phish, Spin Doctors,Jimmy Bufffet, and Soul Asylum, I would have just pretended it was 1996 and I was still dating women.
But not Austin, because she would have been, like, five.
What happened next was...somewhat surprising. An Irish folk song that I hadn't heard before, but which the entire bar sang along with the chorus.
"Ok," I thought, "There must be a soccer match on."
No, it was just commercials playing. Maybe they were just really excited about the new Verizon Family Plan.
This was followed by Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You". And it was at this point, that I started to question who was at the controls of this ship.
A cover of Elvis Presley's cover of Big Mama Thorton's "Hound Dog" sung by someone trapped between a crooner and a big band, and, and, and a chorus of barking...dogs?
Austin and I were searching the bar for who seemed to be suspiciously enjoying this slice of musical hell, when the entire bar started singing along with Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby".
Hell. We were in Hell.
Austin caught one of the barsingers at the Touchjams. And lo, did an unidentifiable but foul song fart forth from the sound system.
We could barely talk. Why would someone do this?
Someone's cover of "Baby Please Come Home" came on, and I noted that I couldn't tell who was singing it, but as I came to the song through U2, I couldn't really judge anyone else's terrible cover. And then I suggested that Austin and I should go over to the jukebox and put in enough money that it just played "Bohemian Rhapsody" over and over, about five times. Because "Bohemian Rhapsody" is an amazing song. Once.
And then maybe I suggested that, instead of "Bohemian Rhapsody" we should play something by Weird Al Yankovick, and I might have mentioned running over to the person we'd witnessed choosing songs from the jukebox, smashing his head into the bar, and running to the grocery store where witnesses would surely keep him from killing me.
As though in retribution for this thought, something indescribably awful started playing from the sound system. A...a...polka? And as we listened closer, the true horror that I'd beetlejuiced into existence became clear. It was Weird Al Yankovick's "Bohemian Polka". I can't vouch for this song existing before 11:10 on November 18th, 2016, and if that is truly the origin of this disgrace, I apologize to society. Because. I mean. This is as close to a cover of "Kiss" by Alvin & The Chipmunks as I can imagine.
After a boringly arranged boy band cover of some other innocuous Christmas song, two people, whom we daggered with our eyes, spent a couple of minutes in front of the touch screen, and the world was returned to jukebox normalcy: The Who, Shania Twain, your usual sports bar jukebox fare.
I post this, not just to share my pain of a terrible playlist with you, but to ask: What are you doing next week? Are you willing to volunteer to be a part of a potentially dangerous music experiment?
Me: "Hey Cyndee, a couple of years ago, I booked a house for a week in Kissimmee with some friends and we had a really great time. I'm thinking of going down again for about a month, and, since you helped me find the perfect house and made sure everything ran perfectly, I wanted to see if I could go directly through you to find the perfect location for this trip."
Cyndee: "Do you want a private pool again?"
Cyndee: "How would your friends feel about a back yard full of hammocks?"
Me: "Cyndee, are you real, or are you just some magnificent AI programmed to know what I'm thinking?"
Cyndee: "I have been programmed not to answer that question."
"Is that Drakkar Noir?"
"What year is this?"
Kid's Mom: Horrendous Humor Of Mad. This used to be your favorite.
Kid: I've never read that. I think that used to be your favorite.
Kid's Mom: Maybe. But you'll love it.
Kid: You get that for you. You deserve it. But don't make me read it. They're not my humor. I'll take these Archie Digests.
This kid is, like, ten, and is clearly being raised better than just about anyone I know.