Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
About a year ago, I posted about a guy who came in and claimed his dad had Action Comics #1 in his basement. I mentioned that it was worth MILLIONS OF DOLLARS if that were true, and the guy ran out of the store. Never to return.
As I figured, it was not Action Comics #1. It was a reproduction of just the cover of Action Comics #1. Worth nothing.
I don't mention this to shame him but to praise him because he came in with his clearly recently out as trans child, and he was a Fucken Delight. He was buying pride pins, and wanted to get copies of "How To Use Them/Their Pronouns" for their grandparents (they said they didn't want to, and he didn't argue or try and buy it behind their back, he just accepted their decision and moved on to the next thing), and ended up buying a non-trans book because that's what the kid wanted.
Last week, there was a wonderful moment of Terrible Humanity.
While my Coworker was on Dinner Break (of course), a Cis-Male and Cis-female entered the store. CM was walking around, picking up books, and Educating CF on comic history. Incorrectly, of course.
CM: Do you know about X-Men? It started in the 80s, it's this pro-diversity comic that thinks being Canadian is being diverse. If you're into progressive metaphors, it's ok. Have you read Batman Year One?
CF: Yes. I've read all of Miller's DC and Marvel stuff. Even the Superman Year One he just did.
CM: Batman Year One is different.
CF: I. Know. I've read both of them.
CM: You probably read Wonder Woman, right?
CF sighs and walks away while CM continues babbling.
I sharpen my Killin' The Patriarchy Stick.
CF eventually grows bored enough to leave while CM is still talking at her.
Me: Dude. She left. She's gone.
He continues to putter around, but stays mercifully silent. Until. A guy around the same age comes in, walks over to him and nods his head.
New Cis Male: Hey.
CM: Hey. Have you read Frank Miller's Daredevil. Some people think Bendis's run in the best of the series, but without Miller's foundation it's just fluff. You know?
I found myself relieved to realize this person wasn't a Mansplaining Dudebag. He was a condescending jerkface to everyone, regardless of gender identity.
I have reached the point in my retail observation where even that feels like somewhat of a victory.
Coworker: In the mirror universe, you can tell your evil doppelganger is evil by his goatee. But what if you're a woman?
Me: Same thing. But the goatee is lower.
A kid about three or four comes into the store with a bunch of much older relatives, including the dad. There is an exhausting ten minute period where she says "Daddy" about four billion times, even though he is regularly answering and fully engaging with her.
Eventually, she grows tired of telling him which comics he should buy.
Little Girl: "Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?"
LG: "It's time to go get cotton candy."
Dad: "In a minute. We're going to buy a gift for your cousin first."
LG: "Daddy, now."
Uncle: "Wow. She's so bossy. Just like her mom."
Dad: "No. Her mom communicates directly, in a helpful manner. When she's bossy, she's being like her obnoxious uncle."
Uncle: "Does this mean I'm not getting any cotton candy?"
A child comes in with hosiery over their hands. They are followed by an older brother and two parents.
Child #1: "I hope they have it. What if someone came in and bought it? *annoyed grunt* Do you have Sisters?"
Me: "Yes. It's right over here."
Child #1: "Perfect! How much is it?"
Dad: "It doesn't matter. We're getting it. Do you also have Drama?"
Child #1: "No. I just have Smile and the Babysitters Club books."
Dad: "We'll get Drama, then."
Older Brother: "I don't know why you read those."
Mother scolds the older brother by name.
OB: "What? They're not relevant to his...interests."
I glare in his general direction. All these books are by Raina Telgemeir, a fantastic writer who writes and draws fantastic all-ages stories that happen to also be Very Inclusive.
OB: "He's not a babysitter."
Dad: "He's not a princess, either. But he reads Princeless."
OB: "Well, Princeless is awesome. The Babysitters Club books are just ok."
I retract my glare. I disagree with his assessment about the quality of books, but disagreeing about quality is different from disagreeing about inclusivity.
Mom: "Leave it alone. The poor kid already has two judgmental parents. He doesn't need a third."
OB: "Then get a divorce already. All the other parents are doing it."
They all laugh.
Shithead In A Leather Jacket: I don't know why Doctor Who is now a woman?
Decent Human: After twelve guys, why not?
SIALJ: Why not? Why not? Why? It's Doctor Who.
DH: What's your point?
SIALJ: It's not Doctress Who.
DH: Doctress isn't a word. Doctor is gender neutral. It's a title not a ---
SIALJ: No one wants to watch Doctress Who.
DH: It's still not a word. But if it were, I would want to watch it.
SIALJ: Ok. Because you are a woman?
DH: Because I like Doctor Who.
SIALJ: It doesn't make sense.
DH to the other woman: Let's go.
SIALJ: Where are we going?
DH: We are going somewhere without you. Good night, Larry.
To me, SIALJ: Do you believe this? They are mad at me. Typical women.
Me: Women are typically mad at you?
SIALJ: They're too sensitive.
Me: Maybe they should see a doctress about it.
SIALJ: You know what I am talking about.
He didn't buy anything.
Tiny Joseph Gordon Levitt Kid: Hi. I'm fourteen. I would like a job application, please.
Me: We don't have applications. But if you come in on a Friday or Saturday you can talk to the owner.
TJGLK: Is that (Owner's Name Redacted)? I've talked to him before. He told me to come back when I was fourteen. I'm fourteen now.
Me: Ok. I look forward to working with you then.
TJGLK: I'm a very thorough worker.
Me: I bet.
TJGLK wanders over to the back issue bins. Another kid, maybe ten, is looking at the all ages shelf, asking his father questions, when his father said "Ask her over there."
TJGLK: "I am a him."
Exhausted Father: "I'm so sorry. People used to do that to me when I was young and had long hair."
TJGLK: "It's cool. Misgendering doesn't bother me."
Mother: "Don't even pick one of those up. Comics aren't for girls."
Daughter: "But it's My Little Pony."
Mother: "Comics are for Boys. Put it down."
Son: "Emily likes My Little Pony comics, and she's a girl. Lumberjanes is for girls. Squirrel Girl is for--"
Mother: "Nathan. Enough. Comics are for boys. Emily shouldn't be reading them. You have five minutes to get a book."
They all walk around the store on their own for a minute or so.
Mother: "Nathan, you have four minutes to get a book."
Son: "Women don't get to tell men how long they have, it's annoying."
Mother: "I'm your mother, Nathan, I'll do what I want."
Son: "Women don't get to do what they want, that's what men do."
Mother: "That's not very nice, Nathan."
Son: "Well, that's what You sound like."
Mother: "You've got three minutes left, Nathan."
Daughter: "What's A Wrinkle In Time?"
Mother: "Put it down. You don't like comics."
And that's wen I turned into a Hammer brother and started throwing tools at a set of parents who shouldn't be allowed to raise children.
I know I didn't mention the dad. That's because he didn't say anything. But he was complicit in his silence. He gets hit with a hammer, too. Unless he shows me divorce papers and a custody settlement where the kids go to someone who isn't either of them
Guy On Phone: "Hi, guy. Do you guys take credit cards?"
Me: "We sure do."
GOP: "Even for comics?"
Me: "Even for comics."
GOP: "My girl likes comics."
GOP: "I like comics, too."
GOP: "I'm looking to buy an old comic with women in it."
GOP: "You have anything like that behind the counter."
Me: "Probably. But your best bet is to wait until six, and talk to our owner. We have a bunch of storage facilities that I haven't even seen. He can probably help you find the perfect book."
GOP: "Do you have any Elektra shit."
Me: "Umm." flips through the Daredevil pile, "Nope. No Elektra in the store, but you should call back and talk to the owner. He'll know if we have any Elektra in storage."
GOP: "I have a limited window, guy. The thing is my anniversary is tonight."
GOP: "So could you help me pick something out for her?"
Me: "If you came into the store with some more info, sure."
GOP: "Will you be there around 3?"
Me: "Nope. Casey will be here."
GOP: "Is that a woman?"
GOP: "Oh perfect. I'm a dude. You're a dude. A woman would be super helpful."
Me: "Sure. They know all about disappointing anniversary gifts." Pause. "And how to avoid them."
GOP: "Exactly! Thanks, guy!"
Customer In Store answers cell phone: Hello?
I do not hear the other half of the conversation,
CIS: Yea. Yea. I can be there in a half hour or so. Uh-huh. Where am I? I am at the football store. Being manly.
He then sat on the steps outside for about five minutes, showing his friend a Youtube clip from Rupaul's Drag Race.