Miscellany Monday – Close Encounters

I hope everyone had the opportunity to share Free Comic Book Day with someone they love. Late in the day, via phone, I went to a comic book store with Her Geek.

I really feel uncomfortable at the comic book store and it might be (probably is) of my own making. Maybe if I dressed appropriately and smelled appropriately and acted appropriately, I would feel more comfortable but I really can’t change my PRADA wearing self any more then the nerds that frequent the comic book store can change themselves. What I could do, however, is to tone myself down.

Since I was in the Tampa Bay area visiting my parents, I had not been to this store before so I tried to be a bit more approachable to the people that surrounded me, thinking that I would fit in more. That meant; I did not wear fancy clothing and in my estimation I dressed down—jeans with a hole on the thigh and rather tattered on the bottom, solid colour, non-embellished tank top, and flip flops.

Simple.

Down to earth.

Accessible.

As soon as I walked in to the large, crowded store I was immediately overwhelmed by the reek of the unwashed bodies that were meandered between the displays of comic books, gaming supplies, and the large selection of toys and collectibles. I think I must have been the only person there that showered that morning and the perfume that in Husband’s words made me smell tasty was lost in the stereotypical scent of ripe geeks.

I took the long walk, passed the recommended titles, passed 2 men about half my age, and on to the comic books along the wall. The two men looked at me briefly and in turn I smiled at them (my normal friendly smile) and quickly they diverted their eyes back to the comics they were perusing.

Deeply engrossed in an issue of Red Sonja another man stood as a barricade, blocking my way to my target location.

“Excuse me,” I said.

He neither looked up nor moved. I repeated myself, this time louder. He looked up casually, slowly, and then looked as startled as a deer caught in the headlights of a car on a dark country road. The deer wasn’t expecting the car and this man did not expect me. He didn’t know what to do or, I think, what to make of me, the only female in the store. It was as if he had never seen a woman before. I smiled and that shocked him into the understanding that he was in my way. He backed away so quickly from the wall that he nearly bumped into the display behind him. I clenched my lips together so I didn’t laugh and managed a sympathetic smile, not wanting to spook him further.

I made my way from comic books to graphic novels to gaming and back again to comic books, picking up a few things here and there and listening to the Her Geek in my ear. With each step I took, I found myself around different men with different geek stereotypes; bad hair, ill styled and ill fitting clothes, poor hygiene routines. When not in the immediate vicinity of geeks, I felt their gaze from behind shelves and behind books. I honestly do not think that I was being paranoid nor do I think so highly of myself that stares from strangers would be warranted.

Finding a few things that interested me or were recommended to me I journeyed to pay for the items that I held. I said hello and smiled at the guy that looked like John Lennon, circa 1972, behind the computer terminal. It appeared that he was internally daring himself to look at me, let alone smile. “Should I? Shouldn’t I? Should I? Shouldn’t I?”

Shouldn’t I won out.

I put the books on the counter and handed him my credit card. He tentatively took my card and began purchasing process. When the purchase was complete. He held my card out to me, thanked me, and in the split second when we were both holding on to the bag that contained my books, he looked at me. I smiled and thanked him and his lips took a decidedly upward turn but alas the smile was not meant to be. He turned away and thanked me back from behind the safety of his diverted eyes.

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