She is a vision of hipness. Short, cropped hair, darkened by shoe-polish. Horn rimmed glasses. Facial features so thin that they must be drawn by a newly sharpened number two pencil. Black skirt. Black leggings. Leather shoes so shiny I see myself in them–drooling.
I am at Forbidden Planet Book Shop in New York City, looking for a decent paperback, and she is always in the same aisle I am. I go into one aisle; there she is. I go into another aisle. There. She. Is.
I know. I can tell. I have this sense. It’s my “girl-is-looking-my-way-dar”. Or it’s my “I-wish-she’d-give-me-the-time-of-day-dar”.
But really, it’s my “I’m-just-a-shy-seventeen-year-old-geek-boy-and-maybe-she’ll-come-over-and-jump-me-like-a-pommel-horse-right-here-in-the-hardcover-horror-section-and-maybe-I-do-have-a-shot-because-we-both-are-in-a-science-fiction-book-shop-so-maybe-she-will-come-over-and-say-hey-dar”. And it’s pinging off the hook.
I go into the Lovecraft section. She goes into the Lovecraft section. A girl. In the Lovecraft section. There is no doubt; this must be love.
On her face, though, is disdain. She’s looking at me like I’m a gnat, a bug, a tourist from New Jersey. She is completely disgusted with me and I am enchanted. I see our life together where we can create Forbidden Planets of our own with sequels galore.
But then I see her go up to this other guy leaving the store. Bet your ass I’m jealous. Then I see her ask for his receipt. Check his bag. Look at the receipt.
She’s security. She’s the store detective. The only reason that she was following me is that she pegged me for a potential shoplifter.
And I am flattered that she thought I had it in me. She makes me want to steal things. I want to shove Forbidden Planet merchandise down my pants and say, “Why no, that isn’t a leather embossed edition of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy down my trousers. I’m just in a good mood.”
Let’s play police and thief. No. Better. Let’s play Klingon and Federation and set phasers on “whooooooo doggie”.
Hey over here! I’m a hardened criminal. Okay, only half of that is true. Actually, I’m just a geek boy in love. Frisk me.
Of course then two young guys walk by and they’re wearing baggy pants. She leaves me. Spurned for a more likely collar. I feel used. Cheap. I was just a one night surveillance.
Dejected, I just take a book from the rack and go to pay for it. The guy behind the counter looks at the title. He says, “Oh, David Brin. So you like hard sci-fi?
I nod. Hard sci-fi is better than fantasy. I don’t have to read a word of what’s in the fantasy section. Baby, I am the fantasy section.
Dave Macpherson is a writer from Worcester, Ma. He lives with his wife Heather. They both write.