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.
After Some Unscrupulous Relative Links Her To An Article About A Comic Book Store In Texas, My Mother Calls Me At Work
Me: "No, Mom, I'm not getting married now."
Mom: "I just read this article about this comic book store couple in Texas...:"
Me: "That's great. Who do you imagine I'm going to get married to?"
Mom: "What about that nice guy we had lunch with a couple of years ago. I think he was moving to Arizona."
Me: "Well, SHE now lives in California."
Me: "Yes, she lives in California, and is a woman."
Mom: "That's even be--"
Me: "YOU FINISH THAT SENTENCE OLD WOMAN, AND I WILL END YOU."
Mom: "So you're still single, then?"
"Why does everyone you date look a Lesbian Woman In Her Thirties?"
"I've never dated anyone who --- ohhhhhhh. Huh. But. Everyone?"
Yoooooooooooooooooo, I try not to antagonize people in the store, even when they're fratholes but I first heard this dude tell someone on the other side of his phone conversation that he was currently in the airport in San Diego (and if he is then I am waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too messed up to be online now, because this place looks just like the store in Cambridge that I work at), and he then walked up to me with his phone and asked if I would like to see "Miley Cyrus's third best nip slip."
Then, two minutes later, his female friend came in, and he started talking about how he couldn't watch Firefly anymore because of how misogynist Joss Whedon is and I just couldn't hold back the "Seriously?"
He didn't press the conversation.
Last night, after some prebauchery (TM) at Grendel's, I was waiting for the last bus home. A very nice woman was sitting on the bench near where I was standing, and she was very nervous about missing the last bus. I explained that the last bus is usually very very late, as it waits for the last red line train, which waits for the last green line train, which waits for the apocalypse.
After a few minutes of very pleasant conversation, she said that she was still nervous that she had missed the last bus and that her roommate would be nervous because her phone was dead.
Because I'm not a piece of human filth, I let her use my phone, and her roommate looked up online and confirmed that the last bus was coming. (How she checked, I don't know. All the apps I have to track the T said there were no more buses.)
She gave me my phone back, and I realized I had to use a bathroom, so I told her I would be back and I RAN back to the store (the MBTA bathroom was coned off), used the facilities and ran back.
She smiled and told me that I had just missed the announcement that the next train to Alewife was coming in five minutes. Awesome.
As we talked some more a couple of very very white young lesbians with amazing hair walked over, and one of them sat between me and the girl I was talking to and said "Step off, SKETCHBALL. She doesn't want to go home with you."
I was about to start laughing when my new friend said "Excuse me. You're the one being sketchy, sitting practically in my lap and trying to tell someone who I can and can't talk to."
"Just look at this guy, though." and then to me, "I see the way you're looking at me."
"I'm looking at you like you are too drunk to be in public and/or you are a super judgemental asshole."
So now my new friend is laughing, and the girlfriend who hasn't spoken yet grabs the other one's arm.
"FINE." she said. "I'm trying to help you, girl. Get raped, then."
There was some prolonged eye contact between me and my new friend and then the bus showed up.
As we got on the bus, the girl who had just called me a rapist for, I don't know, existing and not being attractive, decided to apologize. "I'm sorry. It's just. I mean, look at you. I teach a self-defense class."
"Fuck you." Seemed really appropriate. "I hope when you sober up someone tells you how awful you were to a stranger." And I got in the bus and sat way in the back, and my new friend came and sat not next to me but very close.
WISELY, the quiet girlfriend kept her obnoxious partner at the front of the bus, where she proceeded to antagonize the driver about where her stop was. As in, at EVERY stop she would ask "Is this Walden Street? Because I took this bus before and they didn't tell me where Walden Street was and I missed my stop. And that's BULLSHIT. If I miss my stop, you are paying for my cab."
I was kind of hoping the driver was going to throw her off, but he did not. Though when she did get off, everyone on the bus let out an audible exhale.
This morning I had a text from a number I didn't recognize thanking me for the use of my phone and hoping I had a better day than the night I had last night.
So far, yes, but it's a low bar.
Bartenders know me best when I'm not drinking. And maybe that's the problem.
Judy at The Cantab says it looks like I'm starting to be less depressed. I had no idea I looked depressed. I thought that safe that hit me bounced off my skull without leaving so much as a dent. My eyes aren't puffy because I've been crying, I just haven't been sleeping well.
Amy at The Lizard Lounge thanks me for the book I gave her. When the check comes, it's about twice as much as I expected. "You didn't pay for your dinner last Saturday." She says. Which does explain the extra $20 I've had floating around this week. I apologize so profusely she has to shine the fog from between the two os in "I'm sorry" in order to see me. "Oh, don't worry about it, dear." She says. "You were so very into your writing that I didn't want to disturb you."
I have been so far from reality this week, I can't see it with the Hubble telescope. I can't see it with a far reaching pop culture reference. Reality is so far away from me, it doesn't even have oxygen.
"Are you working yet?" Amy asks me. And I'm not, not because I'm lazy or they're awful or anything, I just suck at making plans this week.
As Amy talks to me about her recent trip to Hawaii, I watch a quarter fall out of her hair and on to the pavement. It bounces once, twice, then rolls under a bush. This is bad. We're inside. There are no bushes here. I am in pretty desperate need of some sleep.
I'm debating whether to check my e-mail when Regie Motherfucken Gibson sits down next to me and begins talking to me about transgender issues, people claiming to be multiples, and the politics of slam poetry. Slam politics don't interest me anymore. I am not transgendered. I think most multiples would shit their pants if they ever interacted with a real schizophrenic.
Regie is one of the greatest conversationalists in the world, but it's much more fun to talk about things we disagree about, and we can't come up with anything we disagree on. I agree that most people are bilovual, but the subject of bisexual poets disturbs me. We tell numerous stories about women who have an epiphany that they hate men, and then suddenly they're lesbians. Personally, I find that extremely belittling and bullshit. Real lesbians, like real gay guys are sexually attracted to someone of their own gender for the same reasons heterosexuals are attracted to people of the opposite gender. Phermones and chemistry.
Last week, I was hanging out with one of them open relationship slam poet people (my friend Ellen) and one of her lovers. The lover was a kind of cute little bearded dude. He seemed smart, funny. But something seemed off to me. It wasn't just that he looked ridiculously young or that he kind of reminded me of an even younger looking Elvis. There was just...something.
Turns out he was a she. And, see, it's chemistry. I didn't know he was trans. Physically, he was very much a he. Mentally, very very much a he. To the point he spent time grabbing me inappropriately and talking about how much he liked to fuck guys. All this while his girlfriend was walking between us. My conciousness 100% believed this person was a guy. But my nose knew differently. It said, there is something off in the testosterone/estrogen quotient said "I am so not attracted to this very cute, smart, funny, person. And it's not just because he has a girlfriend."
Benny once told me how he picked up a drag queen at a club. It wasn't a Crying Game moment. He knew it was a drag queen, but "The dude was easily one of the hottest looking women I'd ever seen. The hair. The face. The body. Everything. Perfect. We went back to my place, he laid down on my bed, everything tucked carefully out of sight, and I...I just couldn't do anything. I wanted to kiss him, but then...I can't explain it. He was wearing perfume, and was everything girly, but my brain said "man" and that was the end of it. I couldn't be gay if I wanted to."
"So," Regie asks after I relay the Benny story to him, "the bisexual thing pisses you off too?" We're not talking about bisexuals in general, but women (and it's always only women) who take the mic and go on and on about their bisexuality. Women who have a bad experience with an ex, "go lesbian" for a few years, and then shut their homosexuality off like it was a movie of the week.
"It's bullshit. And I hate that people buy it." I say. "If a man were ever like 'Yea, I dated this girl in high school and she was a real bitch to me, so I decided to be gay.' he'd alternate between being laughed at and having the crap beaten out of him. Sure, if he were hot, most gay guys would probably fuck him, but that wouldn't make him any gayer than the Shania Twain and Ani Difranco t-shirts he'd no doubt start picking up at thrift shops in an effort to be more visible."
And then our conversation slips into slam politics, people pimping their race/gender/sexual orientation/blah/blah/blah. Later that night I catch The Body Count Slam at The Cantab. Two good friends doing some of their best work, but EVERY poem (with the exception of the cactus one) involves someone dying or dead. Mark Twain used to keep track of casualty figures in the collections of bad poets. I started taking down the notes last night. Four sexual orientation related deaths, two suicides, two overdoses, and a really mean archangel wiping out all of humanity out of spite. After the second tiebreaker between dead victim poems, I had to get out of the room.
Today I am back to playing e-tag with people who can't figure out what they want or what their plans are. Basically, I'm talking to better looking versions of myself. Forget strength, give me sleep, contentedness.
When I came home from a glorious night of work at Kookaburra Canyon, Wiz and Peter were tanked. Hardcore hammered. The kind of drunk where you get to see a person's true feelings, no bullshit, no pretense of being a good person.
Nothing surprised me about either of them. Wiz was the way he always is when he's drunk, fucking hysterical. He digs on himself, the people in the room, and people who deserve a good ribbing. Nothing evil, nothing uncalled for, but dancing the border of good taste and bad. My kind of humor.
Peter does not get funny. He gets truthful. I've known many people who get introspectful and honest when they're drunk. Generally I find this much preferable to the "look at me, I'm drizzunk" drunk, or the "let's go smash the windows of parked cars" drunk, but with Peter, I'm not so sure.
First of all, he takes complete credit for fast talking slam style. He, in fact, invented it back when he was out of Chicago Green Mill (never on the team, just a regular slammer) back in the mid-nineties. Saul Williams, apparently, appropriated his mystical poetry from Peter. He was also responsible for Shakespeare's portrayals of love, and e.e. cummings's visual layout.
His ego didn't bother me as much as the following incident, though. While he was taking credit for creation of the universe, and inventing the written word, I was reading Savage Love., which contained a letter involving a reader who collects pubic hair from urinals at her place of employment. The whole concept was so ridiculous, I burst into laughter. Peter asked me what I was laughing about, so I read it to him.
Wiz's reaction was similar to mine: That's fucked up! I would be completely open to somoene arguing why it's not fucked up. I can always agree to disagree. What I didn't appreciate was Peter asking "Was it a guy or a girl? Cause if it's a girl, it's ok, man, whatever, but if it's a guy I'd beat the fuck out of him."
There is a moment of silence here.
Wiz points out the asinine nature of Peter's statement. It's either fucked up, or not fucked up. The gender of the person is completely irrelevant. I point out the whole "beat the fuck out of him" statement makes Peter a glaring homophobe. He explains he's not homophobic, he just wouldn't stand for a guy jerking off about him. While he's waaaaay too egotistical and stupid for my taste, I'm willing to bet a guy or two has called out hia name in the privacy of their bedroom before. He's an in-shape, fairly attractive narcissist. That makes him ideal for a number of my gay friends. In fact, had I not had my revelation surrounding Elvis, I may have been attracted to him. Actually, I know I would have been attracted to him about five years or so ago. Ugh.
I wish I could say I was surprised about his statement. I'm not. Just overly disappointed. Wiz says he feels karmically attached to Peter, but can't wait for him to leave. He's a very talented painter, but not a very good person to be around, and frankly a terrible poet. I don't say this because he can't write. He can. But he makes a concious effort to bury his poetry in an outdated slammy delivery, so that no one ever knows what his poetry is about. "My poetry is about being raw and inaccessible." he told me yesterday. What a great fucken goal.