Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maybe It's the Weather

It must be the crazy season, too much rain and recession. People come into the store and call out a single word, words like trains or hockey. What’s that about? I’ve never gone to the grocery store and stood in the isle shouting bananas or eggs. Well, I answer them with a monosyllabic ‘no’ and they usually slump in relief and walk right out because they’d only spoken in panic upon discovering that they’d stumbled into a bookstore. But some reply with withering things like are you telling me you have nothing on trains? That kind of pressure makes me a little crazy so I make things up like: Oh, I had a huge collection of that stuff, hard to find stuff, vintage stuff, a lot of leather bindings, but I sold the whole lot to some fellow last week for $20, just to get rid of it. You know.

One of our cultural oddities is that people think a used bookstore is an open marketplace for the free exchange of ideas. The oddity is that these same people have very strong and strange views on things that you must agree with. But nothing prepared me for the bear wrestler. He came in with his Fu-Manchu mustache and his main squeeze and asked me if I had any books by some guy with no vowels in his name. You know, he says, it’s about the 15,000 year old manuscripts they recently found in Mesopotamia with secrets that THEY don’t want us to know about. Now, booksellers have an instinct about these things and the word ‘THEY’ usually has us reaching for the panic button or the shot-gun under the counter, but it was 3:00 pm and the vodka was kicking in so I said that kind of crap is down there with Von Daniken and the space aliens. Fu-Manchu man gave me a hard look and gave me his card. He said: go to this web site. We’ll talk again and walked out of the store. I snorted at him after he was safely out of the store, but, OK, OK, I went to the web site. But so would you! The site showed a video of Fu-Manchu man wrestling a bear in a boxing ring, and the bear trainer shouting ‘be good Poo bear, roll, roll’ and Fu-Manchu man looked very grim rolling with the bear so I hope he doesn’t come back to the store any time soon.

Then this very elderly lady comes in and tells me she’s moving into the neighborhood here soon because the Africans in her apartment are trying to seduce her into their harem and she’s tired of the harassment. I laugh nervously and she leaves grumbling I’m too old for this shit. I find myself hoping she doesn’t move too close.

So these bachelor weekends don’t work for everybody. Nestor’s brother recently revealed that his wife was in Europe for a week and he was going to live like a 20-year old while she’s gone. I said, is that a good idea at your age, you’re what, 48? 49? He said yeah, yeah, whatever, you got any more of that Newfie rum? So we drank Screech for a few hours, and how was I supposed to know that he’s already drunk a bottle of cheap red wine and eaten a large all-dress pizza with extra bacon and had spent the afternoon watching Borat. But these things have a way of coming out, and in this case, coming out everywhere so I hustled him out of the store while he screamed in a previously undiscovered language and called him a cab but after what happened outside I realized I should have called an ambulance and I hope I don’t get sued because that was not my fault.


  1. Perhaps you should make a gradual conversion into a bar. It sounds like you have the perfect clientele for it.
    If this is done slowly, gradually ( like National Geographic Channel's slow descent into the trivial ), people may not even notice the purpose of all those flappy papery things neatly filling your shelves.
    When they are drunk enough to forget their fear of knowledge, you sell them a book, and kindly ( or aggressively, depending on how drunk You are ) usher them outside.

  2. Nice to hear that good ol' Newfoundland culture has found its way into your humble store yet again. I'd be curious to know what it's like to visit the place BEFORE the vodka kicks in, but that would require going out far too damn early in the day for my tastes...

    (I kid! Though admittedly, regarding the above suggestions, converting to an evening bookstore/bar hybrid would suit me best.)