Chillin' at the Barnes & Noble
Are bookstores going the way of the dinosaurs?
I certainly hope not.
I mean, where else can I hang out and do my thing (daydreaming and writing) while my wife and daughter cruise the nearby thrift stores?
No offense to my beloved women, but after shopping with them for five minutes, I'm falling asleep while standing. Sometimes, torturous as it is, I am mandated to accompany them, and then I make sure I have a cart I can lean on while pretending I'm doing something useful. Inevitably, shopping narcolepsy hits me, and my embarrassed daughter has to kick me in the calf before my unintentional yet hearty snoring reaches a crescendo.
So, regardless of the powerful influx of Nook, Kindle, iPad, and other reading devices, give me the smell, the feel, the opening page anticipation, and the user-friendly love you even though you're high tech-retarded familiarity of an old-fashioned book. Better yet, banish me to a bookstore, and I will easily get lost for hours in that voluminous jungle. Yes, I admit it--I'm definitely fetishy about words on paper.
On this particular Sunday, then, on the downhill side of a busy weekend, my wife and daughter--now well trained in the drill of dropping me off before my passive-aggressive reluctance to shop becomes a huge downer for them--patiently wait as I remove my backpack from the backseat of our Ford Fusion and exchange pleasant Byes! with them.
Inside, I'm burstin' at the seams, not unlike the 17-year-old (oh, was it that long ago?) whose single mom struggling to take care of six kids has reluctantly consented to letting him use her car to take his girlfriend out.
Let's face it. Freedom is a precious commodity for a man no matter how old he is.
I'll tolerate my better half telling me what to eat, what shirt or shorts I shouldn't be caught alive walking around in public with, or what television programs I can't watch...after all, marital diplomacy requires a certain amount of compromise (aka identity surrender). As long as I get to have my own personal space and my own personal time--and I'm finding that I require more and more of both as I get older--I'm as content as our family cat, Kona, after I've laced his chicken or turkey pellets with freshly sliced chunks of cantaloupe.
I walk into Barnes & Noble like a JFK-era kid walking into a slot-car racing store. My engines are revved up and purring as my internal GPS seeks out a seat that has an electrical outlet next to it.
Walking around the Starbucks cafe area (a common feature in most, if not all, Barnes & Noble bookstores), I observe that all the seats and outlets are being used.
So then my next course of action is to find a lounge chair next to a support column that has a plug-in.
Right in the middle of the store is a seat that has just been abandoned. I quickly move in and claim squatter's rights just before three little kids come squealing by. With surgical precision, I unzip my backpack, remove my two pairs of glasses (as I approach 60 years of age, I gotta have two or three pairs of glasses for different visual requirements), untangle my laptop cable, and swiftly plug it into the outlet.
Plopping down into a very comfy chair, I casually scan my immediate surroundings.
In front of me (see photo above) is a spin stand holding several computer games targeting kids and young adults.
To my left are shelves of puzzles and contemporary versions of familiar board games as well as some I have never heard of before. This particular area has a lot of traffic on this particular Sunday. As an eBay seller and affiliate marketer, I mentally Rolodex this significant bit of information.
Writing has honed my powers of observation to the point where I look at people and objects from the dual perspectives of literal research and figurative musing.
My sojourn on a chair in the middle of the bookstore gives me ample opportunity to do both.
To my right, I notice a stand of Planners & Agendas (I guess the bookstore personnel don't note or care about the double plural) as well as another stand consisting of, interestingly enough, Scrabble Cooking games.
Nestling into both the comfort of the chair and the comfort of my routine, I clear the inboxes of my various email accounts, check the progress of my eBay auctions, view my PayPal account, log onto Facebook, send off a few business as well as personal tweets, and work on my writing projects.
There is a constant flow of shoppers passing through the store this day. This was heartwarming to me because I'm pulling for books, bookstores, and libraries to never end up in a Fahrenheit 451 bonfire inadvertently ignited by high tech Kindle-ing. (Sorry. I couldn't resist this oh, so appropriate pun.)
Don't get me wrong. I love the new electronics! But I will always have a nostalgic passion for old-fashioned books. Both are capable of co-existing on the same planet. Both are integral for the advancement of the human race.
***Whether you agree or disagree, I invite any and all of your comments.***
The hours rapidly pass, and soon I get a call from my daughter letting me know that they are on their way to pick me up.
All in all, it was a productive and relaxing afternoon at the Columbia Center Barnes & Noble today.
The sweetest part of it was that I emerged from the store with my life batteries recharged and my sense of wellness with the world reinforced.
If you're ever in the Tri-Cities area in southeast Washington state, drop into this bookstore and make yourself comfortable.
Comfort is a selling point that's abundant in this business venture.