Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Bookstore Monster

Despite our best efforts to not socialize our daughter in an overtly girly way, she's very girly indeed. As such, her favorite book at the tender age of 3 is "Fancy Nancy," which is about a girl who likes to accessorize and use French words. So recently, when we asked her which book she wanted to buy for our friend's 2 year old daughter, her immediate response was, "Fancy Nancy."

We entered the local book shop and walked into the children's section. In the middle of the section is a short table with tiny chairs on which you'll normally find a couple of toddlers paging through books while their parents browse the small store. Today however, the table was occupied by an 11 year old boy and his slightly younger sister. A well dressed, and oiled kind of man was sitting on a leather chair adjacent to the table, complaining loudly to his children.

"Why don't you choose something interesting to read?" he was whining to them.

I didn't recognize the guy, and since our town is small (much smaller in the winter) I knew he was one of the city people who grace us with their presence seasonally. We call them "city-ots" (rhymes with "idiots"). The boy huffed back, "But I only like books about MAAHNSTERS!"

The father's phone started ringing and he gave me a look that said, "Can you believe this shit?" But since I couldn't find one ounce of sympathy for the man, I shot him back a look that said, "The kid is a prick just like you." We walked by him and all his tension, to pick "Fancy Nancy" from the shelf.

As we were paying, the boy walked up to the "kind old lady" behind the counter and asked for a book. I didn't hear the title, but I heard him say, "It was released in Europe months ago, and you should have it." He added, "I'm only 11, but I read at an adult level."

The woman drew a breath, studied the boy for a moment, plunked a few keystrokes and quietly shook her head while staring at the screen. "Sorry, but we don't have anything listed for that author."

The boy walked behind the counter and tried looking under her arm at the screen, to double check her search.

"Excuse me..." the woman said.

Her disapproval didn't throw the boy off. "Try again," he ordered, "but type his first name first."

"Sorry, but the database doesn't work that way. If it didn't come up under his last name, it surely won't come up under his first." She was trying very hard to remain calm. "Listen," she said, "I can suggest something else in the genre. Have you read Anne Rice?"

"Yeah, yeah, I've read all her stuff. But I didn't even like it much."

"Okay... how about Stephen King? Have you tried him? He's written many, many books."

"Read 'em all," he dismissed with a wave of his hand.

The woman was growing flustered. This was the kind of kid who'd strain anyone's patience in a matter of seconds. Clearly, he'd been raised by someone who had been paid to raise him...

She took a peek into the back of the store where the boy's father was talking loudly on his cell phone. Something about her "kind old lady" look quickly changed. She asked the boy, "Oh, what about J.S Bach?" Perhaps you'd like him?"

"Nope read him... wasn't impressed."

The woman flashed a little smile and leaned over the counter. "Look kid," she growled. "Get the fuck away from me before I light you on fire with my laser beam eyes."

The boy stumbled backwards and fumbled his way back to the children's section, where he tried to tell his father what happened. But his father was too engaged in his phone conversation to care.

The old woman turned her attention back to us and purred, "Would you like anything else today?"

We paid and left the store, not entirely looking forward to the summer.


Anonymous said...

Too honkin' funny.

First, I have two girls, ages 7 and 3. There is nothing you can do to prevent them from being girly girls. Sorry, just embrace the horror as Jefferson Krull would say.

I did succeed in keeping our house Barbie free for the first five years, but my decree was effectively undermined by birthday parties. Little People and Polly Pockets, however, dominate the plastic population in our abode.

Fancy Nancy is a household favorite. We'll have the complete collection soon, I'm sure.

As for the summer crowd, I live in a small resort community with about 1,200 year-rounders, another 4,000 summer folk invade three months of the year, so I can relate to the story.

We call them FIPs, F'ing Illinois People, since many come from Chicago. While a couple are total jerks like the one in your post, thankfully most are decent people, even if they are from Chicago.

Given the size of our town, everyone knows everyone, including the summer crowd, so it is difficult to be an ass if you want someone to watch your house during the winter, rent it when not in use, etc.

Poor kid, though, he is going to be friendless for the rest of his life.

tapeworm said...

great story!

JakeGint said...

The Fancy Nancy series is huge in my house. Even my two year old -- decidedly non-fancy in every other regard -- loves those books. I think it's the detailed illustrations.

Of course my seven year old, the only girl sib, is not very pleased when she sees the little man paging through oohing and ahhing. We've compromised, by removing the covers to a place out of his reach.

Finding good stuff for kids to read is not easy, and it gets harder as they hit that 9-12 age, where there ready (reading level wise) for older stuff, but not "ready," if you take my meaning.

As for cell phone man and his kid, you should visit Long Island, where most everybody is like that.

JakeGint said...

Sorry "they're" not "there." Dammit I've gotten so used to Fly's edit function, I don't even check my stuff anymore...

Lisa said...

Hey DT,
the bookstore lady is my hero!
That is the dream comment of many in public service.......

JakeGint said...

Speaking of "Worst... President... Ever...."

And getting worse every day! Make sure you check the photo and caption... unbelievable!

The gift that keeps on giving...

Danny said...

not surprisingly, that was me in the book store.