May 6th, 2003

So last week, as most of you regular readers are aware, was my husband’s birthday. I went to my local brick and mortar Borders to try and find some suitable gifts for my husband. I had a list of potential purchases that encompassed everything from books to music to movies. In particular, I was hopeful that I might find one of the two boxed set anime productions that my husband is interested in (Cowboy Bebop or TriGun). These two items have been on my husband’s wishlist for ages, because of the hefty price tag (although it’s actually a savings over buying all the dvds individually) and I thought getting one or the other would be an extra special nice thing to do. At any rate, I go into the store with my list, and quickly realize that Borders is organized in a way that’s completely counterintuitive to me. I wander around for a few minutes, unable to find the DVDs, much less anime or boxed sets. I switch to the second thing on my list, which is the Minders CD “Hooray for Tuesday” with no better luck. Is it Pop or Rock/Pop?

When I was younger and had more pride, I refused to ask people in stores for help. It seemed to me that if they had done their part to lay things out so that I could help myself, I should do my part and try to take advantage of that and not pester them. Now, I have a lot less free time, and if I can’t find what I’m looking for in 3 minutes or less, I go ask someone. After all, someone is being paid to help me if I need it, and interacting with someone in the store is a good way for me to find out whether this is the type of store where people are helpful or not and whether I want to give this store my money or not. So when someone asked me if they could help me, I said that I was looking for the Minders CD “Hooray for Tuesday”. I followed this short, brown-haired fellow up to the tall island and waited while he went behind the counter and tippy tappied his way through the stores stocks. He told me that there were two Minders CDs in the computer and that neither one was “Hooray for Tuesday” and that they weren’t in stock anyways. Well, could I ask him something else, then? I was wondering where the DVD box sets were hidden, because I can’t seem to find them.

Which DVD are you looking for?

Well one or another of an anime series, either Cowboy Bebop-

I didn’t actually get to the TriGun part because at this point Jeff (or Bob or some other single syllable name) is bouncing up and down with suddenly twinkling eyes and bursting forth with, “You’ve come to the right person. I’m Mister Anime. Anime is my area of expertise, if you couldn’t tell from my nametag.”

At this point he flips his nametag over and shows me the back of it, where he’s got a couple of pictures of anime characters pasted onto it. I wonder if he thinks I have x-ray eyes, and could see the back of his badge all along. Uh-oh. Well maybe he’ll be super competent and quickly guide me to what I want and I’ll be on my way.

I’m interrupting this anecdote to notify you all that my boss rules. He’s not only cool about taking time off and relaxed about everything as long as I get my work done, as bosses should be but he also just brought me two candybars : a limited edition dark chocolate kitkat which I’ve had before and find extra delicious and also a limited edition reese’s peanut butter cup which I’ve never had nor even seen and am much looking forward to eating. Yum! My boss rules. Now back to our story.

So we go over to the anime section and he asks me again what I’m looking for, and whether I’ve seen this or that. He tries no less than three times to sell me “Spirited Away”, even though I repeatedly tell him I am borrowing it from someone. Finally he tells me that the box sets are not there and bemoans Borders’ poor selection of anime. But never fear, he assures me (and now he’s hopping from one foot to the other in excitement) because he and his friend – well, his friend has told him not to tell anyone, but he can tell complete stranger me – are planning on opening an anime store! He thinks that a place is needed where fans of anime are sold products by people like them, who understand anime and enjoy it. He’s naming directors and films I’ve never heard of, asking if I liked this or that. He’s mistaken me for a fan. Then he asks me if I’ve seen the new something something Cowboy Bebop books they just got in. I say no. I explain that I’m actually in this store purchasing a gift. He looks momentarily disheartened, but drags me over to the comic book section anyways. He pulls things off the shelves and thrusts them into my hands. I politely look them over. I wonder if I’m going to have to ask the store manager to make this guy leave me alone. He shows me some Tri-Gun books.

“You know who my favorite character is? It’s Vash the Stampede. I’m just like him. If I could have my nametag say Vash the Stampede I would because he’s so cool and I’m just like him but they won’t let me.”

Just like him in what way, exactly? I wonder. Over six feet with blond spiky hair and a full length red leather coat? Sharpshooter with a gun? Not real? I’m starting to feel increasingly uncomfortable and completely at a loss for words. Not that Jeff isn’t happy to cover for me, taking my silence as an invitation to recite lines and strike a few Vashlike poses. Yikes.

Welcome to Borders.  My name is Vash the Stampede. How may I help you?

Just then, the phone rings. God’s truth, I’m not making any of this up. He casts a glance back towards his island regretfully informs me that he’s going to have to answer that. That’s alright, I tell him, I think we’ve pretty much established that you don’t have what I’m looking for. He bounds away to reach the phone, and shouts back at me over his shoulder, “Yes, I know, but it’s just great to talk to fans!”

He did try to say one or two other things to me once his phone conversation was concluded, but then I retreated into the math and hard sciences section of the bookstore and he left me alone. And in this unceremonious way was my encounter with Mr. Anime concluded.

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6 May 2003, by

Brief dream image, unfortunately all that was recollected.

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