A Detour and a Bit of Optimism

There I was, elbowing through the regularly crowded east end of Elm Street. I glanced at the wide windows of the small shops that were aligned on either side of the small, two-lane street. A bag shop... useless. A weaved furniture shop... more useless. A lingerie shop... exceptionally useless. What can a 14 year old guy who's never had a girlfriend do with lingerie? I agree, absolutely nothing. I sighed, reminding myself that nothing was impossible. Even guys who were constantly called nerds, geeks, losers, etc., eventually found themselves a girlfriend and I fit into all of those categories. It's not like optimism makes someone more of a loser than they already were. Wait, it doesn't, does it?

The constant hum of near and distant voices rang in my ears, interrupting the 90s country music that was playing on my mp3 player. I sometimes wonder why I had 90s country songs on my mp3 player, and why I had an mp3 player and not an ipod... I'm starting to think that what everybody said was probably true. Oh well!

My gaze scanned over the heads of the unending crowd and landed on a clearing not too far away. There was literally a two-metre-squared spot of complete emptiness in the midst of the herd of raging Christmas shoppers! I trudged forward, apologizing to all of my elbow-jabbed and stepped-on victims. I entered the clearing and took a deep breath. Space! Oh, how I hated being surrounded and longed to have personal space - even two metres worth felt great!

I now glanced at the herd of unfamiliar and insignificant faces and noticed how their glances avoided me. It was as if I was a beggar that was planning to guilt trip them into sparing change for me... Change that they would have much rather used to buy themselves hot cocoa. I twisted my neck to see what they were avoiding. My head tilted to the side as I stared at the crooked sign on the store behind me, "Foggy's and Flora's". 'Bizarre name,' was the first thought that popped into my mind. I shrugged and walked in, curious to see what the newspaper-covered front window was hiding.

A quiet, barely audible chime rang, celebrating my arrival as I opened the door. The front room was filled with shelves and the shelves were filled with second-hand books. I made my way over to one of the least dusty-looking shelves and started fingering the titles of the books. The titles of old classics like "The Call of the Wild", "The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin" and "The Great Gatsby" caught my attention.

"What are you doing?!" screamed a shrill, nasally voice behind me. I jumped as a girl who looked around my age yanked my hand away from the bookshelf. I stared at her in disbelief. She brought my hand close to her face and inspected it with squinted eyes. Next, she dug out a frilly handkerchief from the pocket of her skirt and vigorously rubbed it over my fingers. Finally, she blew a warm breath of air over my now-wiped hand.

"There! All better!" she whispered to herself, loud enough for me to hear. She abruptly turned and started walking to the back of the store. 'Wow, such pleasant customer service...' I thought sarcastically.

"Hey! I mean, excuse me!" I called after her, "Can you tell me where you keep the fantasy novels?" There weren't any theme signs on any shelves nor did the books seem to be in alphabetical order.

"Foggy's not here today - he's the one that talks to humans... I'm just here to make sure that the cockroaches don't bully the mice," was her calm response, "Come back next week, the beetles don't like the way you're dressed." With that she walked away.

I exited the store, not wanting to anger the beetles. I pulled out my planner and turned to the first week of January. Under the January 2nd, I wrote, "visit Foggy and Flora, demand a book, and dress better for the beetles."