I had today off from work. Chuck was on interviews (after a year of being laid off, employment is on the horizon) so Junior and I were left to frolic in the wonderland that is southeastern Connecticut.
I decided to buy Junior some new books. I was all set to go to Barnes and Noble when I thought, why not support an independent bookseller instead? So I set my sights on the Niantic Book Barn.
Holy books. The place is set up like a compound, and there are used books everywhere. Not only do they sell books, there’s a kids’ playground…
…which was so infested with mold and mildew I skeeved at Junior touching anything. Seriously, have you ever been to someone’s house and enjoyed the ambiance of his/her laid back décor but upon closer inspection realized you mistook carefree for neglected? That’s how the Book Barn felt. I wanted to embrace the outdoor armchair nestled by a stack of books, but the more I looked at it, the more it looked like a chair I’d seen by the side of the road on dump day.
I don’t want to leave an establishment with Cladosporium clinging to my ass.
So Junior and I ventured inside and climbed the steep wooden stairs to the children’s section. A flattened Clifford the Red Dog lay on the floor, along with an assortment of…oh, hell, why pussy foot around? The toys looked like they had mange. As I raced through the books, I kept whispering to Junior, “Don’t play with that!”
Have you ever done the whisper-shout? It hurts your teeth.
Finally, I’d had enough. I grabbed some books and paid for them. The cashier ringing me out looked like a chubby Lily Munster. She didn’t smile. No one did. It was like everyone had just survived a plane crash and was suffering from PTSD.
Maybe I didn’t fit in. Maybe I should have worn a beret with crusty apple stuck to it and been perusing Yeats instead of wiping my child down with Purell? Maybe I should have braided organic alfalfa sprouts into my pubic hair to symbolize the suffering of genetically modified food?
I don’t need every retail experience to feel like Mickey Mouse’s smile is crammed up my butt, but as I drove away, I seriously wondered if I’d accidentally wandered into a Niantic commune full of childless artists and hippies and if they were pissed off about it.
Oh, but right, the books. The friggen books.
The best part? As we walked to the car, Junior squatted, turned to the woman walking past and grunted, “I’m poopin.”
Book Barn, if you'd give me all your Bukowski and Curious George books, I'd spend the day sweeping and polishing. You just need a little shine to your grime. I also have some gently used children's toys I'd be happy to donate. And maybe, just for a day, your moose statue could squirt vodka instead of water. Maybe then someone would smile.