Monday, September 08, 2003

Yesterday, on my way home from Starbucks, I decided to drive around Baltimore. I passed my exit, and headed to the Inner Harbor. The sun was just starting to set and the day was crisp and clear. A beautiful, late summer day where the kiss of fall is flirting with summer. During that drive, I remembered how my friend Shannon and I would be out in bars in Los Angeles and get into laughing fits. Not because of the drink, but because one of us would say or observe something that just set it off. Shannon and I would always "go there" with our humor and it inevitably led to gut holding, bending over, tear producing laughter that took a while from which to recover. Take it from me, that the best ab exercise you can do is laughter. I won't describe the incident I was remembering, as laughter between two very close friends is near impossible to explain to someone else.

Shannon e-mailed me last night, perhaps he picked up that I was laughing with him across the continent. I was sitting at my computer and we chit chatted via e-mail, since it was late and I was about to go to bed.

Many times when I'm in the store among the Trolls, Quasimodos, and Jabba the Huts, I think to myself what I would say to Shannon in passing. Or, what he would say to me. Same goes for some of the books we carry, the cheesy romance novels of which I must have shelved a couple hundred this evening. Just as I'd roll my eyes at the cover, a female Jabba would waddle up and peruse the titles, white, fleshy bruised legs jiggling close to me as I sat on the floor, her stubby fingers pulling the books out and bulging, bloodshot eyes examining the barechested men holding fainting large breasted women in their arms. Sometimes the Jabbas breathe in labored raspy breaths, other times they sweat profusely just from walking across the store. Jabbas come in many categories. There are the stealth Jabbas, appearing beside you like big puffy white clouds blown in by a gust of wind. The billowy pillow-like humans make no sound in their sweat pants and tennis shoes as they float around the store like balloons in the Macy's parade. And the cane Jabbas. There are lots of cane Jabbas, supporting their weight with the help of a third metal leg. I've seen many mother daughter teams of cane Jabbas, heading right for the romance section, breasts like bowling balls in potato sacks resting on each side of their ample stomachs. Shirts hosting stains from several varieties of food and drink.

If I see that they can't bend down I offer to help them, setting the titles on a higher shelf so they can browse without having to crunch their rolls like an accordion.

The chair Jabbas are the worst, putting their legs up on the table, or the men in shorts sitting with their legs apart, revealing way too much information. Books resting on their stomachs, rising and falling with every large breath. Many of them have breasts that would make Pamela Anderson envious. Sometimes I catch them picking their nose, and some of them remove their shoes, their beaten stretched out shoes from bearing so much weight. Their feet are white and hairy, and look like they haven't seen a bath in a few days. The other day I was assaulted by a Jabba ass crack while walking around a bookshelf. The Jabba was squatting, wearing way too tight acid wash shorts and a T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. A good three inches of hairy ass crack was staring up at me saying, "peek a boo!" I stood and collected myself from the shock, then shelved the book, practically throwing it and then backed away. One should never, never turn their back on Jabba ass crack.

The Quasimodos are usually in the Sci-fi/Fantasy section, rarely interacting with the Jabbas. And the Quasimodos prefer the floor to our chairs. The same goes for the Trolls. While the Quasimodos like to tuck themselves away between two bookshelves, the Trolls assert a territory. Usually, in a place where is most inconvenient to anyone wanting to pass by, taking up half an aisle space with their bodies, their black sweatshirt hoodie that they eventually shed, their oversized backpack, scraggly notebooks, and many RPG novels that they've taken off the shelves and placed on the floor. The Trolls sometimes come in pairs, but the Quasimodos are always solo and usually male. While the Quasimodos usually put the books back that they have read, the Trolls are notorious for leaving books on the floor, along with trash, even though there is a trash can less than a foot away. Though the Quasimodos and the Trolls share the same section of the store, they usually steer clear of each other. There must be some unspoken agreement between the two species.

I think the Trolls, Quasimodos, and Jabbas see us booksellers as useful parasites. Most of us are much smaller than they are, and we are a necessary nuisance for their survival. They tolerate us infiltrating their territory to restock the bookshelves or bend down to where no Jabba has bent before. We roam freely from section to section maintaining here, shelving there, answering a question that they grunt at us. Kind of like clown fish in an anemone, we are immune to harm in the tentacles of bookshelves.

That is, except for the Trolls. We are always in danger of the Trolls. If they get ticked off, things can get ugly and they can turn on you with the slightest provocation.

And that is why I keep a full supply of Lysol, perfume, and a very bright flashlight in my arsenal at all times. Not to mention, I know where we stash the Martha Stewart books. If things get nasty, I can lob a couple of those at the Trolls and they scatter like roaches.