Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blood: A wookie story

A lot of people recognize me. To some of them, I remind them of someone else. I have a pretty common face with brown eyes, brown hair and a very average complexion. My voice is sort of generic, too, and apparently, everybody knows a generally well-meaning, occasionally funny asshole.

Other people, they know me from my bookstore days or when I served coffee. Most of the time, I was never anyone they paid attention to, but I put in a lot of hours. I was a fixture, particularly on week nights, weekends and holidays. Even when they don't remember where they know from, I typically do.

And of course, some of the time, I remember people I only met once. They made an impression.

The woman was in her mid-to-late 30s. She came into the bookstore during my first year of slinging books. She seemed rattled and was trying to ask for help without saying what it was she needed.

"Do you have any books for gays and lesbians?"

Sure. No problem. I led her over toward the literature section. It was on one end of the aisle, closer to the center of the store, where most of the traffic came through. I stood with her for a second, in case she was looking for something specific -standard procedure and it save me from having to make another trip.

She looked through the titles, while furtively scanning over her shoulder. Nobody was watching. Most of it was garden variety "literary" porn and not much different than the mass market romance novels a few aisles over --only with a lot more oral sex and some occasional fisting.

Her brow furrowed. She looked at me and started to tear up.

"No, do you have anything about coming out to your family?"

I nodded. Yep. Self-help. I took her there and somehow, out of that mess that was the self-help, human sexuality and random, esoteric new age bullshit aisle, managed to locate two different books on the subject. One of them had pictures.

"Thanks," she said.

"Good luck," I told her and tried to look encouraging.

I never saw her again until I donated (bled) this morning. She was seated across from me and she kept looking at me like she couldn't quite place me. I wasn't sure it was her at first. Her hair was well-styled, but it had grayed considerably. I thought it could be anybody, but then I saw the rainbow bracelet on her wrist.

I don't know how it all worked out for her, telling her family, probably coming clean with some of her friends, but at least she wasn't hiding who she was anymore. I can admire that and maybe hope that I had something to do with it.


The Film Geek said...

Your donation stories are the best things I'm reading these days. And this one is the best of the bunch. Great stuff, Bill.

Corey Lake said...

When you work in a book store, you learn the damndest things about strangers that either can't comprehend alphabetical organization or can't grasp the eldritch system of shelving the store uses. I have a journal full of these from the time I did there.

Corey Lake said...

And speaking of wookies, observe my new profile picture.