An absolute Woogums and his female compatriot come into the store, and he starts giving her a Very Incorrect Tour of the place.
"They organize the back issues alphabetically because that's one of the things corporate makes all the stores do."
"But this is where they keep all their indie and underground books" Woogums says, pointing to the nostalgia section.
"Are these trading collections or graphic novels?" asks his even less-informed but also less-infuriating friend.
"Graphic novels." He says.
They are hardcover collections of old newspaper strips and EC comics.
"Everyone in this place knows me." he says, waving to me.
I have never seen him before in my life. And, Diamond willing, will never see him again. I do not wave back.
"This place used to be all porn and indie comics but the corporate office made them turn it into more of a superhero store." he says.
"What are you talking about?" I ask. "There is no corporate, and most of our our collections and graphic novels are what would be considered independent, as they're not put out by Marvel or DC. This entire section here. That section over there. Most of our all-ages books are Scholastic or other smaller presses. We have a European comic section. This entire shelf here. We're not really a superhero store, although we do, of course, carry the most popular DC and Marvel comics."
"You didn't used to, though. You didn't carry any at all."
"Weird." I say. "The owner, who shopped and worked here since the early 80s told me that when he started, about 90% of their sales were the Chris Claremont X-Men comics, with the rest being spread between Superman, Batman, and Cerebus. If anything, there are less superhero comics in the store now than there have ever been. Maybe you're thinking of another store."
"Must be." he says, and goes back to talking to his poor companion. "I think you'd really like The Watchmen."
I grab Mjolnir from its drawer and debate hucking it his head.
He continues to misinform her before he leaves without buying anything.
I start to ponder that I am too judgemental and grouchy when one of the guys from the print shop comes in.
"Do you believe that guy?" he says. "He just came into our store and demanded we print a color copy of a hundred dollar bill. That's ILLEGAL. Color copiers are designed to detect currency, and when they Xerox guys come in to repair or upgrade copiers, it reports how many times a person attempted to copy currency, and they have to report it to the government. And when I told him, he said that The Other Guy always let's him do it. But we're all here today, so I asked him to tell me which Other Guy and he huffed at me and walked into your store. Do you believe that?"
Dude I Once Met Via A Dating App I'm No Longer On: Hey. I didn't know you worked here.
Me: Yea. For about seven years.
Dude: Cool. I was hanging out at Peet's and saw that you were online. like 100 feet away, so I figured I stopped by.
Me: Um. I left my phone at home today.
Me: Also, I deleted that app months ago.
Dude: Weird. Must have been somebody who looked like you.
Me: Must. have. been.
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."
Random Loiterer: "Hey, I sold you guys a bunch of comics about ten years ago."
RL: "Do you still have them?"
Me: "I have no idea. I wasn't here ten years ago."
RL: "I sold them to get an engagement ring. And it went pffffffffffffffffffffft. So I was wondering if I could get them back for cheap."
Me: "Oh, almost definitely not. If you want to come in on Friday or Saturday, the guy who probably bought them from you will be here. If he remembers you, he might be able to help out somehow, but I'm imagining we've sold most of them by now if it's been a decade."
RL: "Yea. Yea. I figured. Hey, I have a bunch of Spider-Man number ones signed by Stan Lee, are those worth anything?"
Me: "From the 60s?"
RL: "The 90s."
Me: "What issues are they?"
RL: "They're the first twenty issues or so of the 1990s series."
Me: "Signed by Stan Lee?"
RL: "Yea. It's all his art."
Me: "He's a writer."
RL: "Maybe he did the covers."
Me: "As far as I know, he's never been an artist for any book. He was a writer in the 60s, and he was an editor for Marvel almost forever."
RL: "No. He wrote a bunch of issues in the 90s."
I do some Googling and some Wikipediaing
Me: "Nope. He wrote the occasional annual or backup story, but he didn't write a run of Spider-Man comics in the 90s."
RL: "He did. I own them. They're not Amazing Spider-Man. They're just Spider-Man."
Me: "The Todd McFarlane issues?"
RL: "Yea! He wrote those."
Me: "No. He didn't. McFarlane wrote them. Then Erik Larsen, then a few other writers. But not Stan Lee."
RL: "Then why did he sign them?"
Me: "I have no idea."
RL: "Are they worth anything?"
Me: "There were a ton of variant covers for the first issue. A couple of them are valuable. But with someone else's autograph on them? I guess you'd have to find the right collector."
RL: "Why would he have signed books that he didn't write?"
Me: "Because he's a gracious guy and someone handed him some books to sign? He did create Spider-Man originally. I bet people have him sign Spider-Man comics that he didn't write all the time."
RL: "What if McFarlane signed them?"
Me: "Do you have issues signed by McFarlane?"
Me: "I don't really have any way of looking that up. You could go online and ask some people. Who knows, maybe there are people out there looking for Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man signed by Stan Lee."
RL: "Yea, maybe my ex-wife."
RL: "Don't ever get married."
Pro Tip: When trying to convince your current girlfriend to buy some comics that you enjoy, maybe don't mention that you "tricked" your last girlfriend into buying comics so that you could steal them from her when you broke up.
How she didn't leave him right here in the store Baffles Me.
Not surprisingly, they left without buying anything.
A guy who stood me up on a date two years ago and never contacted me again, stopped in the store to let me know he is leaving the country tomorrow, and he gave me a book of postcards he created, so that I would "keep in touch".
I often believe, due to the transient nature of my relationships, that I'm the weirdo with the communication issues. And I'm not saying that I don't have communication issues, myself, but more and more I realize that I just attract people who don't know how to interact with the world, or how to interact with me.
Between this and the very brief return of Sora to my life in January, I'm considering joining a monastery with a lax porn policy.
The postcards are beautiful, though. Even though a rudimentary internet search proved he didn't make them.
I also attract fucken liars.
Today in Dumbass Shoplifters, a squirrely guy in his fifties asks if he can open two sealed back issues. He's been in my way for the better part of a half hour, so I tell him I'll open them for him.
Dumbass Shoplifter: "No, it's ok. I can open it."
I watch him open the two comics and switch the bags that they're in, occasionally checking over his shoulder to see how close I am watching.
Here's the thing. All of the back issues that he had access to were under $20, so even though I hadn't seen the prices beforehand, his profit for whatever ruse he was trying to pull was going to be potatoes too small to make a single french fry from.
DS: "I'm ready."
I walk over to the counter and take the book in his hand. It says "$10, crease on cover".
I ring it in.
Me: "Can I see the other book."
DS: "Huh? Oh, yea. Of course."
This one is marked "$8", so this guy is trying to save two dollars. Except, of course, he's handed me the more expensive bag. And I know he's switched them because the creased covered book is in the $8 bag. So now he's going to pay two additional dollars for the comic that he didn't even want.
Me: "That'll be ten dollars."
DS: "Ok. Thanks."
I start typing this entry, and he hurries out the door.
DS: "Thanks. Have a good day. I...OH MAN!"
I wait for him to come back inside and tell me that he's made a mistake, but he doesn't. He sucks up what is probably in his mind a four dollar loss.
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.
Me: "Oh, you live with your parents?"
Him: "No, my parents live with me."
Me: "You said you still live in the house where you grew up."
Me: "Did you...buy it from them?"
Me: "Do you...pay the mortgage?"
Me: "So...you live with your parents."
Me: "Look, there's no shame in being in your thirties and living with your parents."
Him. "I know."
Me: "But there is TOTALLY shame in being caught lying about living with your parents."
Him: "So are we going back your place?"
Me: "Nawwwwwww. I can't be spending time with a thirty year old with a curfew."
Him "I DON'T HAVE A CURFEW. I'M THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OLD."
Me: "Is your mom going to be mad if you don't call and let her know you won't be home tonight?"
Him: "I DON'T HAVE A CURFEW."
Him: "But, yea, probably. Should I call her?"
5: Karen yells at and kicks out a guy who blatantly takes a bottle of Jack Daniels out of his backpack and starts drinking it five feet in front of the bar. His excuse? "I bought one drink. And I even tipped! But I couldn't afford another one."
4: Kimberly Hyphen-Surname refuses to serve a clearly intoxicated guy who tries to sneak in through the back door. During the open mic, both Emily and Kimberly have to approach him as his drug-fueled enthusiasm is bothering the people sitting around him. As the last poet takes the stage for the open mic, the guy comes to the bar and asks me for a beer. I say no. So he asks for a ginger ale. As I turn to get a glass, he grabs a bottle Jack Daniels and starts to pour it into a plastic cup. I yell. Very loudly. Dude, who was hella high, jumps up, drops the cup, first tries to run into the ladies' room, then the mens' room, then the doorman leads him up the stairs and out of the venue. He hasn't returned.
3: Having driven all the way to Providence to pick up the night's feature, Zuzu expected to be able to read on the open mic. She is denied by the host, so she orders food (remember when there was food at the Cantab?) and a drink. When she pays for her bill, the server gives her incorrect change. Like, change that doesn't even make sense. Zuzu and the waitress argue quietly, and Zuzu goes next door to what is now Tavern On The Square but was then...something else, and gets deeeeeerunk. She re-engages with the waitress after the night's slam (which was a regional bout). The waitress who keeps repeating that she is from Revere and she will "fight a bitch" and all hell breaks loose. I don't think there were punches thrown, but the room cleared out entirely. Apart from the host, even the other emplyees got the fuck out of that basement. The waitress continued to shout that she'd "fight a bitch", Zuzu kept shouting "where's my nineteen dollars?", the host soft-voice shamed everyone still in the room, and the bartender did a lot of shouting. Zuzu was banned. When I interviewed the bartender for a project I was working on, she admitted that the waitress had almost definitely stolen the money, as she "had a history of taking things from people she didn't like". Independently of this, Zuzu was unbanned.
2: The first of two entries which could be subtitled "When Emily's Not At The Bar, The Crazies Take Over". In 2007ish, somebody great was featuring. This was before fire code, and I don't even want to consider how many people were crammed in that room before the doors were locked. Rudy snuck in through the back and nodded at the host. The host nodded back. Rudy's nod meant "I want to read tonight." The host's nod meant "Hello." The open went way over time (again, no Emily), and Rudy, who'd showed up forty-five minutes late and never actually used verbal communication or written communication to express his desire to read, didn't get to read. So, in a crowded room, he went up and started shouting at the host. Asterisk got involved. And thenthe bartender. The bartender was annoyed enough that she got out from behind the bar, leaving me behind it for, I think, the first time. In the midst of his tantrum, Rudy decided to leave, and threw an elbow at someone who was in his way. Someone who happened to be The Owner's Granddaughter. The bartender yelled at and banned him, which, in the long run, probably saved his life.
Rudy would also appear on a list of the Top Five People Thrown Out Out Of Tuartas By An Angry Bar Staff. I think he's even show up on that list multiple times. Perhaps, he would be all five. We're a bit stricter about the kind of people we let back in.
1: A Poet Who Shan't Be Named Because Fuck Him Getting Any More Attention came to the bar on yet another night that Emily wasn't around. Apparently, he had started a fight with me at Seattle NPS in 2001. I have no memory of this. But he was in a bout with the team I was on that year. Flash forward to 2010 and the guy buys three drinks from me, and seems amiable. He's loud, but he's not obtrusive. Then, during the feature, he starts talking during a few of the poems. Asterisk approaches him to be quiet. I don't know if he got quiet, but I didn't hear him. As the slam starts, he is loudly talking nonsense to a friend. Asterisk, again, approaches him, this time snidely. The guy starts yelling that he "read at The Nuyorican" and is "allowed to be loud" (He was not FROM the Nuyo, he was just letting us know that he'd been there once). He then tries to order a drink, and I refuse. He responds by offering to fight me, Asterisk, and Wiz. Wiz laughs. Asterisk gets enraged. The featured poet tries to subdue things. I go upstairs to get Cowboy, the bouncer. The upstairs bartender asks why I'm getting Cowboy, and when I say "I'm throwing somebody out." he joins the party. All of this is taking place WHILE the slam is happening. When the upstairs bartender, Cowboy and I get downstairs, The Attention Glutton is still yelling about himself and how he's not going to leave the bar. One look at Cowboy changed that. (Cowboy is....6'5? 400 pounds? Not to be fucked with.) As he was being led up the stairs he shouted at us that he was a former Mass Poet Fellow (Turns out he shared the title with another individual because he helped design a website for poetry. Using Angelfire. Remember Angelfire sites?) and we would never be as important as he was. He then stood outside and took video of poets, asking them why I was crazy. By the time I got home, he'd sent me four e-mails calling me pejorative terms for female genetalia, and asking me to call him so he could help ME be less crazy. He also claimed to have helped book our show (translation: he'd been on an e-mail chain wherein poets were invited to participate in a regional), and has since claimed (falsely) to run another reading that I've gone to.
He has not returned.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: All y'all pillowhumpers who won't stay off the fucken stairs, or who think you're cool enough to go into the back room. There's probably fifty of you on my FB page. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.