Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pre-Owned Books and Pornography: An Awkward Turtle Moment

While parts of this story may be slightly embellished for dramatic effect, the "event" did indeed occur. If you need the proof, head on over to The Last Book Store on 34th Street in Lubbock, TX.

Last year, on a Tuesday, I got out of class, walked home, and decided that I really needed some new reading material. Being broke, and having a great affinity for Half Price Books, I decided to hit up the used book store I had seen on 34th here in Lubbock (we have no Half Price Books that I know of).

Now, I had been avoiding visiting this particular bookstore for a while now. It is not the most welcoming place in appearance. In fact, it brings images of tough guys with sleeves and do-rags swigging forties on the corner while smoking cigs and pushing around nerdy little white kids to mind. It has bars on the windows. It is a concrete building painted the dreariest blue-gray possible with bars on the windows. Not exactly the place you'd expect to find a fun little read.

Alas, my lack of new reading material sent me on my way. After a fairly uneventful drive, I pulled into the parking lot for the first time.

A friendly little bell chimed when I managed to fight the wind off long enough to open the door, and the old-ish guy behind the counter cheerfully asked if he could help me in any way.

"Oh no," I replied. "I'm just looking around."

He smiled and left me to my shopping.

First of all, I must say this place has a huge collection of romance novels. I'm not talking Nicholas Sparks romance, I mean bodice ripping romance. The kind that has a shirtless Fabio on the cover holding a woman in an old school ballroom gown as they make out in the forest. You've seen them.

Heh, I think to myself. Book porn.

I clearly did not know what was coming. Anyways, I found a couple airport books. (The kind of book that you read to pass the time but is in no way intellectually stimulating...) I also picked up The Notebook because I've seen the movie (who hasn't?) but wanted to read the book. And I love Nicholas Sparks's stories (I had just finished Dear John, and was in a NS kind of mood).

I browsed Westerns and briefly debated getting Comanche Moon since I just finished reading Lonesome Dove. However, I didn't enjoy the mini-series when it came on TV, and the book had a picture of Val Kilmer on his buffalo horse on the cover. Did I really want to see a bloated Val Kilmer every night before drifting off to sleep? No. Pass.

Checked out Science Fiction because you never know when there might be an interesting book.

And then I headed over to Mystery/Thriller. I was really hoping to find one of Carl Hiaasen's books that I haven't read yet. If you haven't read his books, you're seriously missing out. I couldn't find one...and to be honest I didn't really try that hard. One thing about The Last Bookstore - nothing is organized outside of it's genre.

This is when The Event occured. I turned from Mystery/Thriller and began to head to the counter when I saw The Sign. A ginormous monstrosity proclaiming New Releases $45.95 Each / 3 For $99.95.

Golly Gee, I thought, they sure are proud of their movies.

That's when I noticed that these were not regular blockbuster new releases. Oh no. They were pornography. Hardcore nasty porn. In a used book store. Suddenly, it all made sense: my sense of forboding, the ugly blue-gray paint, the bars on the windows. Everything.

The sweet old guy behind the counter smiled nicely at me and asked, "Did you find everything all right?"

This is my face at this point in time: .

I quickly fling the books and my credit card on the counter and mutter something to the effect of "Yeah."

A girl starts ringing up my books slowly, painfully slowly. I can feel the eyes of Jenna and her porn star friends staring down at me from their rack on the wall. Finally, finally, the girl bags my three books and I make a break for the door, determined not to make eye contact.

As I sat in my truck in the parking lot I realized that I can never go back there without thinking terrible things. And geez, what if someone comes in to buy porn while I'm in there? I think I'd lose it. Suddenly, I understand why so many men go to the internet for their porn fix. It's an expensive habit.

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