The best way for me to frame my mental state is to relay how I accepted an invitation to a job interview, today, as an excuse to get out of the house and an exercise in feeling feelings.
Today was a beautiful, crisp day. It was as close to proper Fall as I could ever beg Florida for. Today was a beautiful day to ride my bike to my job interview!
We know how these blissful bike rides end: with Catholic guilt and unrequited homosexual tension. A.k.a., my life.
And then I jerked my bike handles directly into oncoming traffic. And the nose of some breed of Chrysler.
Fortunately, neither I nor my two-wheeled companion, Charles Ryder, were more than bruised and bounced a bit–the bike moreso than me.
I continued biking toward the interview as normal. That or I died back there on the corner of Americana and John Young and was damned to a purgatory of mundane (after)life-blogging. Fast-forwarding past the revelation that I’m the third prospective hire to walk into this particular location by mistake, the third in a series of miscommunications in exactly which location I and my never-known kin were intended to interview at, and fast-forwarding past the ten awkward minutes of half-crying outside that compelled a security guard to slowly roll down his window and meekly ask, “Are you okay?”:
I went on a reparative manic spree at my not-exactly-local-but-close-enough corporate giant book store. Admittedly, my initial goal was just one single book.
Not even thirty seconds into the store, I had an armful of bargain-priced books, including a collection of the tales of H.P. Lovecraft. I abhor Lovecraft’s person–but at $7.98 I was totally down to throw my money at his miserable grave, right??
Eventually, as I was leaking books from every crevice of my poorly woven arm/hand basket attempt to cradle all of my prospective spoils in front of a clearly-labeled, clearly bemused employee, I decided that I would try to reel it in. Lovecraft didn’t make the cut. Neither did most of my initial grabs. I realized that I was using the staging of the store’s signature classics as my sorting table.
Rather than look for myself, I asked the employee, who I was certain upon catching the tell-tale tag again was definitely an employee and obviously endowed with this knowledge, if they had a signature edition of Frankenstein. I own 7 unique physical copies of Frankenstein (differentiated by edition and annotation content), 9 physical copies in all when factoring in duplicates/variant covers. A.k.a., I don’t own enough unique copies of Frankenstein–and I’m particularly lacking in ownership of the 1831 edition, which reflects in my admitted lack of scholastic insight in said edition (and now I know for sure that I didn’t die back at that crossroads, because only now has my darkest academic secret been revealed and only now is my soul purged and pristine for heavenly assumption).
The bookseller responded no, but encouraged me to pay attention to the Nice Copy of Dracula where Frankenstein could have been–would have been. Dracula is nice. I like Dracula. But having gone steady with Frankenstein for the past four years, I would feel particularly cheated (and like a cheater) if after all the commitment circumstances brought me to prom night with Dracula in my arms.
There was, however, a Very Nice Edition of the King James Bible that could possibly occupy the void in my cross-referencing web and by proxy my heart. I apparently narrated this out loud, or the bookseller employee was an undercover clairvoyant (which would seem more legitimate of a theory if we didn’t rule out the whole Me Being Dead thing a couple paragraphs ago), as said bookseller quipped that I should consider the Lego Bible as an alternative. (Lo and behold, to my right, there was, in fact, a display proudly presenting The Book as illustrated by customized Legos.)
When I commented that brandishing the Lego Bible in my hypothetical Restoration course would probably be the last straw (not the worst stunt I’ve pulled in my academic history, but *definitely* the last straw) that would definitely get me kicked out of my Reputable Academic Programme at Oxford that next summer, the bookseller half-smirkingly commented on how that was a “fancy school,” to which I quipped back:
“Yes, but my fancy pants degree doesn’t make me qualified to work in your store, apparently. So for the time being, you lord that over me.”
The bookseller legitimately smiled. The ice was broken. The contract was sealed. The bond was fused. In that single moment, scholar and bookseller became egalitarian symbiotes. His business was necessary for my business needs to me met to require his business to fulfill my business, etc. etc.
We became inseparable, turning corners and finding the other there by Complete Accident, exchanging quips of, “Fancy meeting you, here,” wink wonk. When he found me the last time, it was in Poetry agonizing over which edition of Paradise Lost was worth the difference of a dollar in annotated aptitude. When he approached asking me if I needed help, though, I didn’t even consider how my new partner in business might possibly weigh in on this Great Debate and instead admitted that,
“I actually came here for one book in particular. Do you know if you have The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero?”
To be fair, my knowledge of All Things Frankenstein might be legitimately rivaled by shameful cesspit of All Things Wiseau (and on a broader spectrum, All Things Romantic versus All Things Badfilm). The family resemblance between Tommy Wiseau and Karloff In Makeup is the only superficial qualifier I need to justify my intent.
“Sestero…” he muttered, “How do I know that name?” Before I could stop it, it was out of my mouth, “Leave your stupid comments in your pocket.“It was equal parts eerie fate and good fortune that the bookseller had an unconscious connection to the source (and that my surprise verbal abuse wasn’t a surprise).
Unsurprisingly, my new compatriot later met me at the register—and specifically stole me from another bookseller by opening up a second register, gleefully decreeing, “I can take care of this one.” Another contract was forged. In a manic minute, my membership with this chain corporate bookstore that I had let lapse in a phase of disaffected brokeness and anarchic dissonance for the Capital On Enlightenment was renewed—-but I was also 10% richer than had I not engaged the contract. The guilt of that didn’t hit me until I got this far down in my posting. But now that it has, it seems a fair enough place to stop, having come full circle with adequately framing my mental state.