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Wednesday, 10 March
Rub Not Against Your Bookseller
All righty! I am finally settled in to the new place, and after a visit from the sweet, stammering Qwest dude, I have home PC access to the electroweb. After my thorough autopsy of the offending phone jacks ("Mistah Phone Jack, he dead."), the guy spent about ten minutes fixing everything. I quizzed him extensively: "Hey, what was up? I looked inside those phone jacks and didn't see anything wrong." The guy looked at me like I was exactly as stupid as I happen to be. "Th-there are two phone lines wired into this place. Two of your jacks were hooked up to the other inactive line. So I, uh, sw-switched them." Feeling pretty stupid, but apparently not stupid enough, I quizzed him further. "Oh. So you . . . ?" Here I waved my arms around dumbly, because my wife was watching me, and I like to make sure that she's embarrassed for me at all times. The guy said, "I pulled the dead lines off and attached the live ones." People like me are kind of a pain in the ass for smart people, because our very existence tends to cast doubt on things like evolution.
Prior to this bit of self-humiliation, I had stopped off at the end of work to visit the local used bookstore to try and burn off my $80 store credit from returning old, horrible books for newer, slightly less horrible books. Never mind that we still have two or three boxes of unpacked books--fuck those books! They shouldn't have been dawdling at move time. So now, for all I know, some Arrabal plays are languishing in cardboard in favor of my new collection of Ring Lardner short stories. Survival of the unluckiest. All I know is, my collection of the Books of Lists (Vols. 1-3) are smugly sitting high and pretty, and I curse myself that I could not find the strength to purge them. Know this: Books suck, and will make you feel rotten somehow, eventually. My advice is to never read.
Travels to the used bookstore are supposed to be placid affairs, usually. Not this time. I had already picked out some terrible crap--"Hey, a crummy Batman graphic novel from the '80s!"--when the genially loony owner pegged me. "Oh, it's you," she said, in a tone of undisguised boredom. She pointed at a cat (which in her store are legion): "What do you think he's looking at?" Well, the cat was looking at Sherman Alexie books, so I imagined that he was vaguely bummed out, but you can't say that. I muttered something incomprehensible, and the owner wandered off after looking at me liquidly. She kind of freaks me out, but in a good way, like Girl Scouts.
Then the excitement happened. An awful person who looked like he was five bucks short for the next Nine Inch Nails concert exited the store, and the magnetic book detectors went nuts: BEEP BEEP BEEP! The gal at the counter asked him to step back inside, and he swiveled his head around weirdly, and said
And the store owner, bless her soul, went nuts.
You know how you read a novel, and someone screams, and the author renders it as something like "EEEEEEEE!"? And it looks kind of stupid? Well, I'm here to report that the owner genuinely screamed "EEEEEEEEE!" And followed the guy out of the store. In fact, she hassled him so thoroughly on the street that she made him come back into the store to pose for "never serve this guy again" pictures. It was kind of like some sort of justifiable criminal frottage. She so thoroughly humiliated the man--"I feel dumb. I'm so sorry." "You should be! You don't steal from me! There's a library two blocks away! Steal from them!"
Jesus. I see her plight. I want him to steal from me. I have a lot of crappy books.
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What an idiot. Not only does he choose to steal from a used book store, but he somehow couldn't get away from the crazy catlady store owner.
You didn't follow right after him and offer all your crappy old books???? If you didn't want him to see where you live, you could have set up a clandestine rendezvous, say at Eileen's around midnight. There you surreptitiously slip him all your crappy books. Just watch out for the pigs, man, they are always on the look out for illicit book deals.
Do store owners often give recommendations to would-be thieves about where else to go? I remember at an everything for a dollar store the guard yelling at an old grungy guy (thankfully he let him go): Next time go to Macy's!!
Alas, for Eilieen's is no more.
Alas, indeed. Eileen's (or, more properly, the former Ernie Steele's) was like the Platonic ideal of a dive bar.
Well, with any luck he stole the books you sold her, so maybe it's a win-win-win situation for everyone involved.
The cat was looking at Sherman Alexie's forthcoming novel, Some Thief and Cat Lady Wrestle in Bookstore. It's about Indians.
You know it was stressful enough for me when Ernie's changed to Eileen's......but, but, but...I am SICK of the gentrification of my favorite dive bars! The Rendezvous, the Frontier Room, even Linda's to some extent, all ruined! At least Sully's still has wino's sleeping on the bar.
A quiet moment please, for all the dive bars who have gone the way of the dodo.
Thanks for brazonly immortalizing your imperial stupidity for us, that was so funny it almost made me pee.
So what happened to Eileen's? That was one of the only cool divey bars I knew of when I'd visit Seattle. Now where am I supposed to go?
now you're supposed to go to the Summit.
no, actually, you're not.
because that''s MY dive bar.
Ok, I will sign your blog. I really love your site.
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