Saturday, May 26, 2007


Today, I am subversive.

Yes. Today, I am a radical.

I went to my local WalMart-sized Ennui & Latte this afternoon to buy a book to read to my infirm grandmother so I don't have to keep thinking up interesting things to talk about that don't involve Korean horror movies or politics, both of which inspire in me amounts of frothing at the mouth that probably wouldn't be good for her heart.

Of course the first thing I see when I walk through the tastefully appointed faux-hardwood enameled merchandise attrition detector (one of these days they'll just install guard turrets and have done with it) is a display dedicated to Algore's latest shocking magnum opus The Assault on Reason (highly damp NYT fawning piece linked, I do hope the author had a chance to change after writing that). The title alone causes my irony meter to needle dangerously into the red, but that's de rigeur for such matters.

Well actually, it was not so much that I saw it, rather I had to take a swift dodge to the left to squeeze through the less-than-ADA-compliant gap between it and the counter to get into the store proper. They wanted you to see the Algore book, dammit.

But, oh, what is that there, in the corner of the bottom shelf of the rack, with two measly rows stacked five books deep to minimize possible contamination... could it be? Yes. Yes, it is, it's The Reagan Diaries.

I pick one up, and commence in the usual cover reading, page flipping, and price checking so common to bookstores. I've found it's generally useless as thunking melons in the supermarket, everyone does it, but WHY? Does anyone really know what they're listing for? I get a number of looks from other shoppers darting over to snatch up Al's book, and realize I'm holding the SoCal equivalent of a rod of uranium. I think the other shoppers were getting a bit concerned about how close to it they could get without turning green.

Of course, I can't just sneak over to the counter with the book cover turned toward my leg like the time I bought the naughty thing Anne Rice wrote before she got clobbered by Jesus, I've still got to buy the book for grandma. And I'm going to have to ask where it is. And it's by Michael Crichton. And he's a denier.

Oh boy.

And the lady at the info kiosk is big, both in size and lesbianism. She already looks angry when I get to the counter. She looks like someone who gets angry at the breakfast table because the Cheerios are clearly a vestige of oppressive British imperialism.

Oh boy.

I decide to buck up and not try to hide my current handful. "The Reagan Diaries" are 700 pages long after all, and I'm not going to be able to pass it off as the latest JTHM, despite the black cover.

If looks could kill I'd have been a pile of phasered carbon dust before the info kiosk. I asked if she "could please look up Travels for me, and uh, it's by Michael Crichton." She looks at me. "Uh, it's nonfiction." She looks at me.

"Er, in that case, could you just point me toward the travel section?"

Now she types. She types like each key is the pointed head of an oil company administrator. She says, "over here," and "didn' know he wrote nonfiction."

I follow her over to the travel section. She pulls out the book, says "Here," and thrusts it into my hand before turning on her heel and stalking away. I suddenly feel very small and vulnerable in this cavernous, mocha perfumed warehouse. Perhaps passing close to the military history section on my way out will help. It does.

At the counter it suddenly strikes me what it felt like to slouch into Auntie Darla's Paperback Emporium round about 1970 and ask the doily draped bespectacled octogenarian clerk-ess for a copy of Notes on Anarchism.

I almost expected someone to tell me to cut my hair and get a job. But I'm buying Reagan. I probably have a job. I'm probably an oppressor, and have had my hair nicely trimmed by my own personal wage slaves.

I feel both frightened and elated. I have Stood Up. I purchased something Subversive, something Challenging. I alternately want to crawl under the table and hide, or shout "Yes, all you people peeking at me! I HAVE paid my capitalist pig money for a conservative book. And I will READ IT TO MY CHILDREN! MWAHAA!"

Or maybe I'll just go home and give it a read. It's a free country after all, and we're all entitled to buy legal stuff, even if it's on the bottom shelf and the Ennui & Latte staff give you dirty looks.

Next time I want to feel subversive I believe I'll go to Bebe and ask for a size 10.

Now that will shock 'em.


At 30/5/07 4:58 PM , Blogger The Vegas Art Guy said...

You should have asked her if she had read the Regan diaries yet... The look on her face would have been worth the reaction.


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