Monday, February 24, 2014

Browsing in Faeryland - Part 1

Greetings, WYMOP readers!

I recently took a trip to Colorado. Several things happened there. Some of them, a very few actually, happened to me.

This is one of them. :


There is a chain of used book and video stores out there in the Midwest called 2nd&Charles. One of them just happens to be in Aurora, Colorado. I had never heard of this store, but SB asked if I wanted to stop in there “just to check them out, you know, see what they have”.
I said yes.
The word “browse” was employed.
I said yes.
It was pointed out that I wouldn’t have to actually buy anything, but it was a neat store just to see.
I said yes.
You can see what a hard sell I was.
No, this isn't me. But this is
just one of the views,
giving you some idea
just how big the store is.
(Picture courtesy of the
 C2C Aurora FaceBook Page)
So we stopped in to check them out, and browsed, and it was indeed a neat store to see. The store itself was large enough that, at one point, I sort of got lost. Well, I wasn’t lost, but I hadn’t been able to find SB in quite a while. I kept my head and looked about again. Nothing. I had just begun to consider going to the front desk to have her paged like a little boy lost in the department store (I mean, yes it might have been a bit embarrassing, but I just couldn’t find her anywhere, so yes, please, would you page my Mom? I mean friend?) when my phone buzzed with an incoming text. It was from SB.
I’m in Aisle 9B
So I strolled off to aisle 9B, ignoring the watery feeling in my lower belly and my inexplicable desire to be sat up on the counter and offered a sweet while someone got on the loudspeaker for me. I sauntered up aisle 9B and found SB.
“S’matter,” I said, dredging up every little bit of ‘cool and confident’ I still had left. “You get lost?”
You may have experienced, or possibly read about, someone communicating with their eyes. Books occasionally contain phrases like: “He shot me a quick, affirmative glance”, or “I could see by her eyes the answer was no”, or even “I raised my eyebrows in question and he shot me a quick, affirmative glance; but I could see by her eyes the answer was no”. Parents do it, mothers especially. When I was younger (read: last week) I might come in the
Not my mom.
house to my mother telling me “I just cleaned the house”, while her eyes would add
“so don’t mess it up”. If I failed to leave the room fast enough, I would occasionally catch the point where her ocular message changed to “or else”.
Anyway, you will probably understand when I say SB answered me with a Look. No, that capitalization was not an error. It wasn’t a look, it was a Look.
“Don’t even try that guff with me,” the Look said. “I know what’s what, and I know you just spent the better part of ten minutes wandering the aisles looking for me through increasingly watery eyes while a part of you longed for a grown-up’s hand to hold. Now wipe the tear-tracks from your cheeks, blow your running nose, and lets browse a bit, shall we? And this time stay within sight of me, all right? There’s a good boy.”
Bloody right little chatterboxes when they get going, SB’s eyes.
Well, I’m not one to let something like that pass unanswered, so I thought for a moment, marshaled my internal forces, and gave her my own Look.
Right. So maybe it wasn’t quite a Look, more of a look, but I think I got my point across. I wiped the tear-tracks from my cheeks, fished a napkin out of my pocket to see to my running nose, and hurried to catch up to SB before she rounded the corner at the end of the aisle.
We browsed.
We browsed for quite a while.
When we approached the registers, one of the staff popped out of nowhere. He’d been one of the ones to welcome us to the store when we’d arrived, and now he was back to make absolutely certain we’d found everything we were looking for.
Okay, to be a little more honest about it, he’d greeted SB to the store, and was now making absolutely certain she had found everything she was looking for. It’s not that I am invisible, or even unobtrusive: certainly
TSA never has a problem spotting me, or having me step out of line for a “random” search at the airport. At 5’10”, 210 lbs, shaven-headed, goateed, and with what might be termed an “aggressive look” about me, I apparently fit the description of “random Caucasian male”.
No, I wasn’t invisible to Mr. Helpful Staff. I was just male.
“Oh,” he said, reaching into the cart to pick up one of the books there (yes, we had “browsed” several things right into the cart). “I see you have an interest in Fairies!”
He’d pulled out a book titled A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk, by Edain McCoy.
“Oh, this is a terrific book! Terrific! Did you see the pop-out book? The fold-out thing?”
SB admitted she had not, and Helpful Staff was off and running, returning in seconds with the book in question. It turned out to be a fold-out picture book dedicated to the fairies from Disney’s Pixie Hollow franchise. SB oohed and aahed, and the two of them looked at pictures of cartoon fairies for a few minutes. Then Mr. Helpful Staff suggested she buy the book.
SB said no.
Mr. Helpful Staff looked confused. He glanced at the book in the cart, wondering if he should bring up, once again, SB’s obvious love of fairies. I decided to step up.
“Actually,” I said, pointing to A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk, “that one’s for me.”
He looked at me, taking in my full “random Caucasian male” appearance, and his voice came out a little flat.
“Yes,” I said, smiling. “I have a book in mind, a YA or maybe middle-grade thing
No! Not THESE kinds of Brownies!
about two kids dealing with Brownies in their yard. The Brownies might not be the only things out there —  they might have some Fairy friends around —  so I’m going to do a little research before I actually start writing.”
I pointed at the book again.
His expression cleared. We talked about writing for a little bit (his daughter apparently had the desire), but he never held the Pixie Hollow book out to me, or offered to turn the pages for me, as he had with SB.
I just smiled.
Until we got to the register.

~ ~ * * ~ ~

To Be Continued...

...and just for the fun of it, Sad Cat Diary.

And you think YOU have problems...?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

...And Now for Something Completely Different.

Last Friday night I drove up to Sandown New Hampshire, to take part in a wine-tasting and meet the authors event at Zorvinio Vineyard. No, I wasn’t strolling around Sandown getting slowly sloshed while sipping samples of sweet sherry and Sauvignon. If I had, there’d be no way I could say that sentence, never mind spell Sauvignon. I was one of the authors.
One of the Horror authors. Muhahahaha…..

So I set up my table, including the banner my mother bought me for Christmas. It’s a little large, so it helped me remember where my table was whenever I wandered away, and it gave me something to do when people asked me “So, who are you?” I simply pointed to the banner behind me and said “Him. I’m that guy.”

It made things simpler.

Because we were at a vineyard (obviously a classy place) I had opted for a more professional look than some other times. I have seen people, people not into horror, wince at the sight of me in my Zombie Poe shirt. These people obviously have no class, since the shirt clearly shows one of the masters of the genre, but once they wince and walk away, you can pretty much count them out as a sale.

I’ve also had potential customers look askance at my Dark Muse mask. I’m not sure why, since I’m obviously smiling at them while wearing it —  look, you can practically see all my teeth!

Instead I opted for a polo shirt and sport coat, though the latter wound up decorating the back of a chair once all those wine-sloshed bodies started filling the room with Zinfandel-driven heat. The doors to the sale floor opened and I slapped a friendly smile on my face and waited for the wine-tasting crowd to stagger my way.
They came in a stop-and-go wave. They stopped to talk to the guy three tables down from me. They talked to the guy two tables down from me. They even stopped to pass words with the old codger at the table right next to mine, though to be fair, in their opinion he may have still been a young codger. Then they left his table… and walked right past me.
I tried to slow them down with a friendly “Hello!”
I tried “Good evening!”
I even went so far as to throw out a jolly “So, are you enjoying the evening so far?”
That got me some uncomfortable nods and smiles and “Mhm”s… but no one would stop long enough for me to execute my Sale Plan, which, I’ll admit, pretty much amounted to me tossing books at them and shouting “Buy! Buy!”
I looked down at myself, wondering if I’d accidentally put on the wrong shirt.
Nope, no Zombie Poe in sight, just a black polo.
I surreptitiously checked my zipper, terrified I might be waving at them with the wrong appendage.
Nope, I was flying high, tight and secure.
I checked my teeth for detritus, wondering if I had a big hunk of spinach trapped between my front teeth —  which would have been a neat trick, since I don’t even eat spinach.
No dice. No hanging boogers, halitosis, or unsightly oozing pimples on the end of my nose —  what the hell was going on here?
Then I saw the crodget. That’s a word I invented, a mashup of crone and midget, indicating a female of less than five feet in height but more than ninety years of age. It was crodget or mine, and mine was just too confusing… anyway, this crodget was shuffling along, but paused as she got to my table. She stared myopically toward one side of my display. She made a face.
Well, sort of.
She already had a face like the blade of an axe, all long sharp nose without a lot of forehead or chin (in an effort not to sound mean, I’m not even mentioning her hairy mole, or… oh, damn!), but she managed to crinkle up the axe blade somewhat. She shook her head with a grunt, a sound like she had been gut-punched, possibly by Little Brutus, the well-known midget wrestler, one of the only humans alive short enough to have a clean shot at her teeny-tiny belly. She turned the axe blade away, cutting through the crowd like Lizzie Bordon at a family reunion… though a Lizzie Bordon who only whacked tall people about the knees. But she was too late. I had seen the direction of her gaze.

Demonic Visions and Demonic Visions II sat side-by-side on the table. From the  
back (the view *I* had) they look like just another pair of books. But from the front…

Okay, yeah. Not so nice. I was debating pulling them from the table, purely to stop the crowd reaction… until one very young lady popped out of said crowd to stand, open-mouthed, before my table. She was staring at Demonic Visions.
“Uh… hello?”
For a moment, she made no response. Then, with all the dramatic flair of a thirteen year old girl (which, in all fairness, she was), she leveled a finger at the book, still with her mouth hanging open.
“Uh,” I said. “Is that a good face, or a bad face?”
“That… is… awesome!”
I blew out a relieved breath.
“Ah! Good face, then. Glad you like that one.”
I went on to explain a little about the books, and while I was talking I noticed a couple of other people stepping out of the flow of foot traffic to give a listen. I kept talking to the young cover-art fan, but pitched my voice to include the other listeners as I went through each book on my table.
“Those are great,” said the teen, before disappearing like a magic trick, back into the crowd.
“Thanks for stopping by,” I called after her, saddened to see my one potential sale vanish like that.
“Can I take a look at that one there?” said one of the watchers, pointing at one of the books on my table.
“Sure,” I said, offering him a spinach-free smile. I handed him a book to peruse, then handed a different one to his companion.
I resisted the urge to pelt them with books while screaming “Buy! Buy!”, but it was a near thing.

It was probably a good thing I did resist. The rest of the crowd, seeing that others had interest in what was on my table, and that I was talking to people rather than flinging things at them like a Primate House inmate with a fistfull of poo, started to stop by and check out what I was selling.

After that the sale went pretty well; I sold a few books, made a few friends, and didn’t get arrested for assault with a deadly paperback. I even went to find the young lady who started it all, handing her a couple of flash fictions I’ve printed up to give out as free samples. And yes, I made sure to choose a pair of samples that were age-appropriate for a thirteen-year-old.

Yeah, an epilogue. Go figure. So when the whole thing was said and done, I had broken down my table and transported everything back home. It was about an hour’s drive, and one of the first things I did was check my email when I walked in the door. Waiting for me was a message from my new thirteen-year-old friend, thanking me for sharing those stories with her. I’d forgotten my contact information is in the back of  every sample. With a smile, I tapped “Reply” and banged out a “You’re welcome” message. I hit “Send”, then froze.
“Oh, @#$%.”
So I’d had a good night. So I’d sold some books. So I’d even managed not to assault anyone with fiction.
I’d also just exchanged electronic communications with a thirteen-year-old girl.
I’m probably on a Federal watchlist now.