Tag Archive | Barnes & Noble

People Who Fart in Bookstores and Other Heinous Fiends

img_0997Every weekend my husband and I head off to the bookstore . . . It’s a crucial aspect of my mental health regimen. Coffee and books. There are plenty of studies out there to confirm my position on the positive effects of coffee and bookstores, at least that’s what I told my husband. I know I’ve read it somewhere.

The bookstore for me is a sanctuary of solace. Coffee is the elixir of life. Barnes and Noble is my Shangri-la. Sometimes though, my experience is bittered, polluted in this case, by other people who obviously do not understand bookstore behavior.

My afternoon started off with promise, with a bit of bliss even. I roamed the aisles, scanning tables and shelves, making mental notes of what treasures lay scattered about as I made my way toward the Sci-Fi section. I’d barely began reading the synopsis of Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle when I sensed a disturbance settling uncomfortably around me.


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I looked up to see a man quickly rounding the corner at the end of the aisle when it hit me. The smell. The god-awful, putrescent stench of whatever fowl food was decaying within his inner workings filled the air about me. My eyes began to burn. I held my breath lest it enter my lungs and spread throughout my respiratory system, making me quickly and surely dead within a matter of moments.

I fled as quickly as I could, taking what I thought would be refuge in Romance, but when I dared begin to fill my lungs with air I realized it wasn’t over. Weakened by lack of oxygen I thought I was done for, but the sheer will to survive gave me strength enough to continue. Teen Fiction was the next aisle over, I was sure I’d be safe there, I was wrong.


I am fairly certain that man was in need of medical attention.

img_0992I heard rumblings from Fiction and Literature and sure enough, there were other survivors, huddled together for comfort.

From there, I quickly made my way to the Starbucks Cafe at the opposite end of the store where my husband sat, flipping through a magazine while sipping a venti iced coffee with half and half and classic sweetener.

I must have looked dreadful after my harrowing experience, but he was kind enough not to mention it. I told him what happened through gasping breaths. He raised one eyebrow, told me to stop being melodramatic, and went back to the latest issue of Hot Rod  magazine. If he’d been there, he wouldn’t have been so flippant about it.

Anyway, I composed myself and ventured back out into the stacks, keeping an eye out for that flatulent fiend, thankfully, I didn’t see him. He must have fled the scene of the crime. He dropped that bomb and ran. Monster.

I made my way to the restroom for a bit of freshening up. Maybe img_0999I was being silly washing my face and my arms and my hands as thoroughly as I did, but I’d just been exposed to a toxic cloud of gas. I didn’t want to take any chances. Of course, all that running water made me need to pee. I waited for a stall to open. When one did, a little boy skipped out, followed by his mother.

When I shouldered the door open I was horrified. Pee. Everywhere. How? Why? Was mom watching videos on her fricking phone while her little angel was painting the place with piss?

Now, I raised three boys, I know what can happen in the restroom, but seriously?

I backed out and waited for the next one to open. A well dressed woman exited, her smile lulled me into a false sense of security. You know what I saw? Pee! Drips and dribbles of pee on the seat. What the hell? It wasn’t just one or two either, it was on each side and the back. Again, how? Why? You might be wondering how I know it was pee, you might be thinking it could have been spray from the flush. No. She clearly needs to up her water intake. It was grown-ass woman pee.

I decided to hold it.

img_1001Determined to enjoy what time I had left before my bladder forced an end to my bookstore day, I again composed myself and decided to head over to Biographies, I never made it that far. See,  the direction I was traveling took me past the children’s books, I wasn’t two steps in front of the entrance when I was body slammed by a runaway kid, who was followed by another runaway kid who was followed by an agitated mom who told me to watch where I was going.

Despite everything, I somehow managed to make it to the register with two books. My bladder held until a suitable restroom could be found. While it wasn’t the best bookstore day, it wasn’t the worst either. Actually, it was. It was the worst bookstore day ever and I think I’m deserving of a do-over.

A plea to my fellow humans . . .

If you can, please hold your farts until you’ve found a suitably airy and unoccupied space to release them. An empty aisle in a bookstore does not fit that criteria, the restroom will work, exiting the building will work. If possible, please refrain from eating gas inducing food items prior to entering a public space.

Thank you.

Moms, from one mom to another, for the love of all things not disgusting, please teach your young boys to aim. Toilets were designed with a great big hole filled with water, that is where the pee goes. If they do happen to miss, these things happen, please clean that nastiness up.

Thank you.

Ladies, I can’t believe I even have to ask, please stop dribbling piss on toilet seats. What are you even doing? Use the damn toilet seat protectors, hover if you must, but geez, don’t piss all over the seat and walk away. That’s just nasty.

Thank you.

Moms, I know kids can get rambunctious, especially in public, but if you can’t keep them from running and screaming and turning mischief into mayhem outside of your home, take them to the fricking park. Teach them to behave for goodness sake, I managed it, so can you.

Thank you.





Book Store Story or The Complete and Utter Ruination of His Life

Yesterday I felt the need for a bit of therapeutic wandering, the best, and most therapeutic, wandering – for me, is most oft largefound in the undertaking of extensive, exploratory journeys where I dawdle, gander, meander, and mosey my way through the well-lit aisles of a bookstore. Betwixt the rows and tables and displays of beautifully bound words, my wandering turns to wonder, and my woes slowly fall like gently drifting autumn leaves. I’m left with unencumbered branches, quivering in anticipation of new growth.

Basically, I was feeling restless and sweet talked my husband into an afternoon at Barnes & Noble. By sweet talk, I mean I promised we could go to Home Depot afterward. That’s sweet of me, no? I think it’s sweet.

As soon as I walked through the doors, the smell of adventure, knowledge, and freshly brewed coffee began to peel away the layers of pent-up annoyances I’d been collecting like a suit of armor throughout the week, and as I passed the magazine racks, I began to feel like Julie Andrews on a mountain top instead of Quasimodo stuck in a bell tower. The bookstore is a magical place. I refrained from singing this time, it makes people think I’m coo-coo for cocoa puffs. I’m quite misunderstood.

One of my favorite things about the bookstore, aside from the obvious – books, books, and more books, is that I almost always leave with a story of my own to tell. I love to watch almost as much as I love to read. Everything and everyone. I silently watch and listen to those around me and collect their micro-stories in my mind, sometimes I keep them until they are forgotten or replaced, sometimes I write them down. There may be a book idea in there somewhere.

It was a little boy who caught my attention yesterday. He couldn’t have been more than seven or eight, adorable little thing with dark eyes framed with eyelashes some women would gladly give an appendage for, dark hair, an impish little smile and an armful of books. He was sporting a Captain America t-shirt, perfectly cuffed Levi’s, and a pair of red Converse sneakers, he looked liked an adorable force to be reckoned with. He stood there, trying to maintain his grip on the treasures he’d found when his dad rounded the corner.


“Did you pick one yet?” Dad looked a little nervous, at first I thought this was odd. Turned out he was right to be a little apprehensive, he’d obviously been in this spot before. While son was dressed for a bookstore battle of epic proportions, Dad’s faded Bass Pro Shop tee and checkered shorts made him look like an already defeated casualty.

“One? Uh, no. I’ve got four.” This kid had a warrior’s stance, he was ready for battle before Dad even knew there was going to a skirmish. Then again, I think Dad knew exactly what awaited him when his little man walked through the doors of that bookstore, I don’t think he had much of a defense strategy planned out though.

“We talked about this already, one today.”

“I know, and this is a series, so it counts as one, Dad.”

“They’re $15 each! One!”

“That doesn’t even make sense, I’ll be done with one book by like tomorrow probably, and then we’ll just have to come back.”

“How about we get one or none?”

That precious little book hoarder showed no fear in the face of this threat. If anything, he looked more determined, if not a little more than annoyed.

He kept a firm grip on the books, and a firmer grip on his resolve.

He wasn’t going to back down. He knew he needed those books.

“Sure Dad. If the complete and utter ruination of my entire life is your end goal for today, then we’ll go with one.”

Dad looked like he’d taken a shot to the neck. This kid was good. Did I mention he couldn’t have been more than eight years old? I love kids who read, they know how to use words.

Then he fired the final shot, “Besides, Mom said I could get them, so . . .”


Dad defeated, books in hand, little-reader-man left the battlefield and made a beeline for the register before Dad could figure out what had just hit him.

My day ended with a venti iced coffee, a new Stephen King book – The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and new gutters. I keep my promises and collected another story at the Home Depot, but I’m saving that one for later.

Coffee, books, and a tale to tell. A day at the bookstore.

Barnes_&_Noble,_Inc.-logoI love Barnes & Noble. Like, seriously love it. I would live there if I could. They won’t let me download (2)of course, (I asked), but I would take up residence within the confines of their walls if I was permitted. Aside from the books, all the glorious books, they have Starbucks. Hello, nirvana anyone?

Since they refuse to let me set up camp, I go as often as I am able and spend as much time there as my husband will let me. If they ever stop stocking magazines, I’m in trouble. Hoarding Collecting books is something I have to do, I’ll take them from wherever I can get them, I’m kind of a thrift store book section regular, but they don’t have Starbucks so they fall to the number two spot on my favorite places to buy books list.

I abhor social situations, but I love to be around people for the sake of watching them. A bookstore is the perfect place for me in this regard. The typical bookstore patron is there for books, not company, and I am left to myself. The thrift stores are fantastic places to observe folks as well, but sometimes they want to talk.

A lot of times they seem to want to talk actually. For the most part, the people who approach me seem to just need someone to acknowledge their existence, to know there is someone kind scanning the collectibles looking for treasure alongside them. Some days it makes me feel good, some days it annoys me, and some days it kind of creeps the hell out me. Another reason they land in the number two spot.

enhanced-buzz-1417-1413386501-17Not too long ago my husband wanted me to attend a social function with him. I don’t like to do that. While my first instinct was to list all the reasons I didn’t want to go and wasn’t going to go, I decided to take the opportunity to get a little something out of it. I told him it was gonna cost him. A day, maybe an entire day, at Barnes & Noble and a Venti iced coffee . . . maybe two. He agreed, as if he had a choice, right?

It was a fabulous day, as most all of my bookstore days end up being. I drank too much coffee, lost myself in my beloved books, and left with The Essential Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda, a hardbound collection of Penny Dreadfuls, which includes some of my favorites by Poe, Shelley, and Rymer, The Elements Of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth (The Inky Fool)and a story of my own to tell.

If you haven’t already guessed, I love to read. I cherish my books and my time spent with them. Reading is a pleasure I would wish everyone could be as smitten with as I am. I don’t know why, but it always shocks and surprises me when I run across people who do not value-love-adore reading. People who don’t find the joys I have found between the covers of a book, it’s even more shocking when I happen to cross paths with those people in a bookstore, as I did on this recent visit.

When we arrived I hugged my husband, (I didn’t know how long it would be till I saw him again), and headed tumblr_luoa16F6nZ1qgy22istraight for the coffee, as I always do, and then made a bee-line for the bargain books, as I always do second, stopping only long enough to make mental notes of where I would look after I’d perused the many books those kind booksellers had marked down for me.

I couldn’t help but notice a girl, maybe around fifteen or sixteen years old, eagerly grabbing books and showing them to her mother and then quickly placing them back on the shelf. With every book she put back, her eagerness as well as her smile was fading. When I got closer to them, I realized why.

With every book she pointed out, her mother said no. Not just no though, there were reasons for each denial. The girl picked up a copy of John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs and her mom said, “That sounds like some sci-fi book for boys.” and pointed to a copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as an alternative. The girl shrugged her shoulders.

11021171_10204670564457567_9191227122279620781_nThe next book she showed her mother was Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. Her eyes were kind of twinkly when she said, “I’ve always wanted to read this one!” Her mother rolled her eyes. She actually rolled them. “Isn’t that the same as Alice in Wonderland? That’s a kid’s book.” Obviously, she’s never read Through the Looking Glass and it seemed like her poor daughter wouldn’t be reading it either.

She motioned toward Dracula by Bram Stoker, this time there was an audible sigh to go along with the eye rolling. I felt so badly for that child. She just wanted to read. She noticed me noticing and tried to give a little, what-are-ya-gonna-do, kind of smile, I pointed to The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. I could see a look of relief in her eyes as she reached for the book. Again, her enthusiasm was quashed. Her mom actually said it sounded like something that should be R rated. What the what?

The Count of Monte Cristo ? No. She will not be reading Alexandre Dumas anytime soon. She won’t be reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and she won’t be reading the Selected Poems of Robert FrostThe poor girl was done. She stopped asking, she stopped looking. She took out her phone instead. My heart kind of broke for her. Her mother then suggested she buy a journal instead, that poor, defeated little thing just said, “I don’t have any thoughts to write down.” She never even looked up from her phone.

Now there is another part to this story, another child and parent exchange which took place shortly after I rounded 10612852_10204670564417566_4423695947332967333_nthe corner and began checking out the books stacked neatly on round tables near the front of the store. This time, it was between a father and daughter. Dad had a stack of books in his arms, obviously a reader. It was nice to see his daughter, who looked to be around the same age as the other young girl, get excited and lunge toward a book.

I was a little perplexed when I realized it was a hefty copy of Gray’s Anatomy. The conversation went like this –

Girl – “Oh my gosh, Dad! Check this out! It’s huge! Do you think it’s got all the seasons since the beginning?

Dad – “What are you talking about?’

Girl – “This book, it’s got to have the entire show in here!”

Dad – . . .

Dad – . . .

Dad – “It’s not about the television show. It’s about science and the medical world. It’s actually a beautiful book.”

Girl – “Oh. Whatever.”

Dad –  . . .

11022631_10204670564617571_5102666671713991551_nNow here it gets a little more interesting. The mom and the sad girl with no books head toward the register to pay for mom’s stack of magazines. The dad, and the girl I’m pretty sure might have been too young to actually be watching the Gray’s Anatomy television series, head toward the register as well. The two parties merge and become one; a family.

If I had to guess, and I’m going to, I would say they were a blended family still in the process of blending. The girl without any books was tall and slender with dark hair, like her father. The Gray’s Anatomy girl was shorter and a little plumper with golden hair, just like her mother. I kind of chuckled to myself thinking about the different qualities they each brought to the table and how wonderful it might be when they all really begin to meld together.

Homer & Aristotle

Homer & Aristotle

The story is almost finished. The dark-haired daughter wandered away from the checkout line to look at a display of bookends, among the books being showcased between a bust of Plato and a bust of Aristotle was a beautiful copy of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The girl ran her finger almost lovingly down the spine of the book, then mother appeared beside her. “You know, just because they call it a classic doesn’t mean it’s any good.”

I might agree with that statement to some small extent if it was coming from someone who had actually read many classic novels, but instead I was a bit wounded by it and imagined myself knocking some sense into her with the bust of Plato, or maybe Aristotle, both were within easy reach. Instead though, I simply said a little prayer in my heart for the new family and hoped they would find some common, literary ground to stand on one day.

Later, when I thought of them, I wished I’d grabbed up that copy of  The Secret Garden and bought it as a gift for that girl . . . it sure would have made my heart smile to do such a thing.

Crystal R. Cook

Magical Doorways