Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
I was psyched to walk out into the Square and hear, instead of Tone Deaf Beatles Guy, a really complex and impressive beatboxer.
But it turned out to be a woman having an incredibly severe sneezing fit.
An ex-roommate of an ex-roommate of mine breezed into the store, thinking it was a used book store. She harrumphed a bit when I told her we were a comic book store, and then said "You're...Adam, right? You used to live with...Harriet?"
I have never lived with a Harriet. But I know who she means.
And, normally, convention dictates that I would say "Yes, and you're Sarah." or Jennifer or Ayanna or Chloe or whatever name she has.
And, usually, the problem is usually that I don't remember names well. In this case, though, I remember that she went by an unfortunate name that she gave herself. Something really pretentious that sounds both fake and off-putting. And I don't remember what it is precisely because one of my exes and I made up a game where we tried to come up with even worse names in the style of her name. And I'm not enough of a jerk to say "RIght, and you're Pennywhistle Fartbox", even though that's the closest I can come to remembering the name she goes by.
Now, I have many friends who don't go by their original names for a variety of really solid reasons. But this was purely because the person thought her name would help her Get Famous, and it was As Ridiculous as the names I'm giving here:
Green Bean Muffintop
Pistachio Shell Moonbeam
Strawberry Quick Milkshake
and Drycleaner De Plum
I feel like I should have a permit that allows me every week to kill one rich person who tries to get out of paying ten cents for a fucken bag. Particularly when they hear me explain the bag tax to the very nice, reasonable person in front of them, and then act shocked that the law also applies to them.
Random Rich Taint: "Well, he gave you a quarter and said to keep the change. That covers me."
Me: "No. That gets saved for children who can't quite afford their comics. If I don't charge you ten cents, we get fined."
RRT: "Well, that's ridiculous."
Starts to walk out of store.
Me: "It is. Which is why you still have to pay me ten cents."
RRT: "Sorry, I'm in a hurry."
Me: "I'll adjust your credit card then to cover it."
Me: "Really. I'm, not getting fined because you are in too much of a rush for the law."
And nobody would ever have to deal with him or his Maroon Sweatshirt again.
Today In "It's Not That I've Lost My Faith In Humanity, I Just Feel That YOUR Faith In Humanity Might Be Slightly Misplaced":
Guy I Haven't Seen In Several Years: "Do I know you?"
Me: "Yea, I--"
GIHSISY: "You're the poetry guy, right?"
GIHSISY: "I think I saw you and your boyfriend at a play slam once."
I scan back through my memories. And, though he wasn't my boyfriend, I know who he's talking about.
Me: "Yea, he was in one that I went to, and we went together once to watch one of his other friends."
GIHSISY: "Short Asian dude, right?"
GIHSISY: "Did you two ever have communication problems?"
Well, he would get angry with me without actually mentioning what he was angry about, and sometimes I would annoy him by not instantly calling him back when he wanted to talk to me but....
Me: "How do you mean?"
GIHSISY: "The language barrier. Do you speak Japanese?"
Me: "No. And that wouldn't have been helpful. His parents were Korean but he was from Wisconsin."
GIHSISY: "So he spoke some English."
Me: "He spoke All English. He's from Wisconsin. Not Korea. Not Japan. Wisconsin. Where English is the primary language."
GIHSISY: "I thought Koreans mostly spoke French."
Me: "No. Are you thinking of Vietnam, or Cambodia which were colonized by France? I don't think most people from either of those countries spoke primarily French, either, but I suppose it was more common there than in Korea."
GIHSISY: "But don't they also have a large French community in Wisconsin?"
Me: "In the 1600s, I guess. But now I'm pretty sure a good chunk of people from Wisconsin speak English."
GIHSISY: "Do you still see him?"
Me: "No. Last I heard he was living in New York."
If you even mention anything about him speaking Dutch, I'm going to brain you with this tape dispenser.
GIHSISY: "That makes sense. There are probably more people there who speak his language."
Me: "Sure. There are a lot more English speakers in New York than there are in Cambridge."
GIHSISY: "I wonder why that is."
Because of Labor Day, my schedule is a little off, so I decide to make up the New Release Board today, but because it is somewhat busy, and I am by myself, instead of doing it over by the back issues, I clear off the counter and do it by the register.
A Random Loiterer comes up just as I've written down the month, and leans on the board, smudging the date that I just finished writing.
Me: "Please don't lean or put anything on the counter. I'm writing on this, and I don't want to have to start over later."
RL: "Of course."
He wanders around the store a bit, grabs a Humanoid book (which are the few books that don't have prices on them), plops it on the words I have just finished writing and asks "How much is this?"
Me: "29.99. Could you please not touch this board I'm writing on? This is the second time I've had to redo something because you put your book or your arm on something I just finished writing."
RL: "Of course."
He puts the book down, wanders around the store for five minutes, picks up another book, and walks toward the counter, putting the boo--
Me: "DON'T PUT YOUR BOOK ON THE BOARD."
--k in the middle of the board, smudging the entire thing.
RL: "Sorry. How much is this?"
Me: "A Thousand Dollars."
Me: "Really. Forty dollars for the book, nine hundred and sixty dollars because this is the third time I've had to start this over. Don't. Touch. The. Counter. Don't. Put. Your. Books. On. The. Board."
RL: "Sorry. I didn't know."
Actual Customer: "Dude, he told you at least three times."
RL: "I guess I wasn't listening."
Me: "Well, as long as you don't put anything on my board again, I'll discount the book back to $39.99"
RL: "Oh, I don't have any money with me. I'm just making my Christmas list."
He leaves, leaving the book on the board.
I wait until I see him walk by the window before saying "You get nothing you Naughty List Dwelling Motherfucker."
AC collapses with laughter into shelf, knocking over a Batwoman Action Figure.
AC: "Oh shit. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
Me: "It's cool. That was clearly an accident, and partially my fault. You're still on the Nice List."
AC: "That's not what my girlfriend's going to say if I come home with this book."
Last night, a woman who, last year, bought a ton of books I recommended for her children, came back with her sister, hoping I could recommend a new swath of books.
They picked up Brave, the Olympians books, some Marvel Star Wars, and Wrinkle In Time. I suggested, if they could find it, to pick up Princeless Volume one, and went back to some computer work.
Nice Customer: "Anything else we're missing?"
NC: "They're a little old for Archie."
Me: "A few years ago, I would have agreed with you, but the new stuff isn't all malt shops and sock hops. And instead of the trope of a doofus guy who women are fighting over, Archie and Betty have been dating since they were really in their single digits, and they break up at the beginning of the book, just as Veronica moves in."
NC: "So it has a backstory. That's interesting, I guess."
Me: "It's also cool because, unlike the old series, the new one has consequences."
NC, somewhat sarcastically: "What kind of consequences? Their parents take their phones away?"
Me, somewhat too intensely: "No. Betty is in a WHEELCHAIR now."
NC: "That sounds a bit much. What's this BIg Nate book about?"
Me: "Wedgies and basketball."
NC: "That sounds better."
Random Loiterer: "Where do you keep your Independent books?"
I guide him to the appropriate section.
RL: "Which of these are used?"
Me: "None of them. We have some used back issue comics, but no used graphic novel section."
RL: "Who in the area does?"
Me: "The Harvard Book Store, but most of their used graphic novels are DC and Marvel."
RL: "I've been there. They have nothing."
Me: "That's the only place. Sorry."
RL: "I just hate paying full price for things."
Me: "Life must be very challenging for you."