The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Thursday, May 31, 2007

THOUGHTS ON ARROWS SHOT INTO THE AIR: Bookstores are wonderful places, especially if you are a librarian. In a bookstore you are surrounded by the very thing that got you into the bookslinging profession to begin with, you invariably know more about the product than any of the bookstore staff, who are for the most part kids who’ve spent most of their lives watching MTV and can’t really tell the difference between one book and another; they could be selling cans of string beans at your local supermarket for all they know about the product they’re pushing, and best of all, you can go to a bookstore and no one will ask you to do anything. On occasion, you will get the odd question from someone who thinks that because you seem to know your way around large numbers of book, you must therefore be an employee. This has happened to me a couple of times and it always feels good to say, I don’t know, I don’t work here to the questioner. Sometimes I feel bad about it afterwards, particularly if the person needed help finding something, but I figure if my local neighborhood Barnes & Noble superstore wants me to find books for their customers, then they can pay me for my expertise. And I really don’t feel bad if the person is there to complain about something. I have to listen to enough of that where I do work, so telling the complainers that they’re barking up the wrong tree doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

You can learn a great many things about yourself in a bookstore. For example, if you wander through the New Age section, as I did the other day, you can learn if you’re psychic, which is always a good thing to know, and, if you are, you can also learn how to release your inner psychic, win friends, influence people, and score with major babes in the meantime. You may even win the lottery several times over, if your inner psychic is amenable to the idea. The possibilities for psychics are almost literally endless, although as I was counting the number of Leicas I could buy if I hit the number in the MegaMillions lottery it did occur to me that there might be a bit of a problem with unleashing my inner psychic. Now, don’t get me wrong here—I am all for releasing the psychic within me; I have no problem whatsoever with parole for non-violent offenders—and if these books work for you, then more power to you, it’s nice to know that someone’s getting ahead in this odd world of ours, but when I’m in a bookstore faced with shelf after shelf of this type of book, the same question keeps running through my mind: if I were psychic, wouldn’t I know that already without buying the book?

This is an excellent question, I think, even if many skeptics will refuse to believe that anything about me runs anywhere. I am not a running person, I fear; at best, I can break into a particularly breathless saunter before collapsing into an apathetic heap in front of the television set, a fact that is all too well-known in many quarters here in our happy little burg. So rather than strain the reader’s credulity in such an egregious manner; I suspect that many of your HMO’s will not cover a strained credulity so close to a Presidential election year; let me just say that the thought crossed my mind at a slow mosey, taking time out every so often to stop at some diner and buy some lemon Danish and a Diet Coke, and then just sit at the table and watch the cars go by on the highway. I usually do this at night, as I prefer driving at night—that way I don’t have to look at the scenery while I drive. I dislike scenery; you always feel an obligation to look at it and then say nice things about it, even if you have no particular feeling for the passing scene one way or the other. Driving through a very scenic area is a lot like having an insecure girl friend; you feel obliged to say something positive about how they look today, even if you can’t see the difference between how they looked today and how they looked yesterday. You can’t actually come out and say this, of course, especially if the local Chamber of Commerce and/or your girl friend is anywhere in the neighborhood; both will object vigorously and your girl friend will probably hit you over the head with an aluminum baseball bat as well. This will not change your mind, but it will make her feel better about herself and we should all do our best to raise our collective self-esteem these days. It’s the least we can do to support the war effort.

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