“I realized nothing I write could surpass your guys’ imaginations”, the woman’s voiced boomed over the feedback from her microphone. Lisp lisp lisp. I couldn’t make out the rest of her address to the fastidiously interested audience that sat in four rows of wooden chairs. The c and s enunciations only made sshhh slushy noises in my ears. As I approached the reference desk I found out that author Megan McCafferty was the woman responsible for turning the Barnes and Noble into a quasi Seven Eleven Happy Hour.
I was pushed back behind a rather large woman with whom I could have sold valid advertising space on her ass. The mumble-jumble of onlookers trying to figure out who the hooked on phonics speaker was, pushed me even further into a corner next to a trash can. “Awesome” I thought, considering I had only gone there to see if they had any part time positions open.
And, it so happened that every Barnes and Noble worker panted at the author’s feet and licked her ankles as if they had just baptized her with old lady perfume instead of manning the help desk. Finally, after a few stragglers standing in the back parted from loss of interest, I moved foward to see the decorated brunette’s hand gestures as she talked about her obsession with Barry Manilow. Considering how I have never heard of her or her six books –including the one she read from, Perfect Fifths –I had no idea what Barry Manilow had to do with anything but sitting on a shelf with my mothers old record collections.
For some reason, the hard core fans that were not lucky enough to score a seat kept staring at me; like they could sniff out my distain, my sarcasm, my wavering fin circling around their bodies before my premeditated snark attack. Dun dun, dun dun, dun dun, dundundundunduntun ROAR. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I’m not sure that sharks –or snarks for that matter –actually, ugh, roar. However, I deduced the possible reasons for the constant stares into the only plausible dichotomy: either I was a cold blooded corpse of uncanny beauty like most of the Brazilian Victoria’s Secret models, or I was that girl with the flamboyant pink parachute pants, a white mesh tank top showcasing two full sleeves of vampire tattoo’s and an unruly mullet with partial braids in the front that nobody can help but stare at. And I knew I wasn’t the former of the two.
After listening for a few noble seconds of tribute, I slipped through the crowds’ seams and browsed through isles of books –looking for humor to bide my time –while I waited for the dysfunction to end. Unfortunately, while I found interest in the latest installment of the A.J. Jacobs genius, an intrusive voice, like a produce price-check over the intercom “on isle three” announcement, filled the surrounding speakers with a terrible rendition of Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana”. The Bad vibrato rang like synthetic deafening drops into my sluttish ears while the whizzing noise of a blender from the Star Bucks café whirred in the background. It was vocal terrorism servicing mass destruction through the sound waves. And I became a third of Helen Keller.
“What a lovely voice” An older gentleman hunching over his scone and seated along the outskirts of the café remarked as he shifted in his seat to face my furrowing eyebrows. My brows arched cynically, or if Chuck Klosterman were present, he might argue that my eyebrows were merely pragmatic in their burrows. I imagined them digging holes to china, in an attempt to find salted preservatives and spices as well as a cure to tone deafness. I also imagined my impoverished ass in a card board box if finding a job never worked out within the next ten years. I don’t want to be known as the homeless eyebrow furrowing, scone licking, card board wearing lady that none of the new moms let their intrigued children touch! Then I think of the time my boyfriend was leaning against a post, waiting for a train, in the Philadelphia subway station when a man walking by handed him money. Of course he rejected the money saying, “No thanks, I have a home”, but how does someone mistake him as a homelessexual? Maybe that occurrence happened prior to his haircut.
(Brief interlude for laughter)
Surprisingly, that eased my tensions about the future. My focus darted back to the man who had moved on to his next victim: a teenager wearing an old high school hoodie and sucking down a five hundred calorie frapachinno. “Lovely voice, right?” The girl nodded- straw taut between her lips- gave an ambiguous thumbs up sign that said “Dude, my car broke down, can I hitch a ride in the back of your pick-up?” rather than “Yes, she sounds awesome”.
After the reading ended, I snatched up an application, tucked it under my arm, and walked out of the store with my head down; a stealthy endeavor, as if I were trying to avoid the Barnes and Noble morning after “wall of shame”. Really, I was just trying to avoid eye contact with all the high school kids that held their signed copies of Perfect Fifths. It would be as if I came in contact with a terrorist. I wouldn’t want to look into said terrorist’s eyeballs for fear of Satan leaping out of his soul, like an overzealous gymnast with a yeast infection, and grabbing me by the neck with his tentacles. (Not that Satan’s an octopus or an ingredient for vaginal discomfort, nor am I insinuating that God is like a tube of Vagisil).
*But it’s the same thing, really, decorated analogies or not: There is inherent evil in authors that sing karaoke in a Barnes and Noble bookstore. There is abnormal sexuality in workers that slurp at the balls of the author’s feet. There is great discomfort in my underpants–in the shape of a wedge –from crawling on the floor in search of my car keys. Like woman, like sssssssssnake.
*Loose paraphrase/interpretation of Genesis Chapter 1
Editor’s note: Michelle is currently accepting offers for a film adaptation of Snark the Shark. Also, toy companies, feel free to contact Michelle in the future about making action figures. No animals were harmed during the making of this post.