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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Borders on Ridiculous

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I harbored this lewd and slightly literate fantasy that I would engage in a chance meeting with a comely, brown-haired young woman in a Borders Books & Music store. We would chat awkwardly about Dave Eggers or what-have-you, have awkward sex at her apartment where that print of the fairy in the canoe in the lagoon that every girl has would be hanging on the wall, and we'd eventually marry and have children with mild-to-moderate asthma and scoliosis.

I wrote a personal essay about this little fixation of mine that got published in an e-journal and, years later, it got me fired from an English subsitute gig at a girls' Catholic school. And I never did find that pretty brown-haired girl in the stacks at Borders. She found me, and it was on J-Date. Turns out you can't pre-write your own love story after all.

Unless you've been living under a strung-out, Chinese prostitute's immediate family for the past month, you've probably heard that Borders is bankrupt. That fact alone is pretty startling, if you think about Borders's meteoric rise to brick-and-mortar dominance over the past twenty-or-so years. The tremendous success of Borders in the 1990's is equally amazing considering the fact that probably two thirds of this country is basically illiterate, including a significant portion of the Commonwealth I call home. I guess that's why they don't just sell books, they also sell DVDs, CDs, stationery, Moleskines, pens, Lindor truffles, coffee, coffee cake, bags, calendars, stuffed animals, greeting cards, and basically anything else they can think of to prevent themselves from going up in a puff of smoke.

Speaking of which...

What the fuck is up with this?

Now, you know me. I'm about as pure as the driven snow when it comes to illicit substances such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, speed, meth, Ready Rock, Big 8, Deeda, Candy Raver, Hippie Crack, New Jack Swing, E-tard, Coco snow, and Fizzies, but I was, frankly, surprised to see such an abundance of grow-it-yourself guides concerning at-home production of pot.

At Borders.

In suburban, southeastern Pennsylvania.

Where moms wear diamond-encrusted tennis bracelets and drive Lexus SUVs.

I mean, the books just went on and on. It was like a bad "Cheech and Chong" joke. But I repeat myself.

As I scanned the shelves of the (I swear) Horticulture Section at Borders this past Sunday, I began to think about why Borders is sinking. Sure, e-readers and Tablets are making stand-alone book stores, peddling paper wares obsolete, no doubt. But I couldn't help but wonder if Borders had maybe been guilty of misjudging their clientele. Perhaps some market analysis is in order, if only for this one location. After all, this isn't San Francisco, for Christ's sake. It's hard for me to picture my elementary school friends' moms sending us off to the park to play so that they could secretly adjust the heat lamps shining on their hashish gardens, carefully thumbing through "The Best of Ask Ed: Your Marijuana Questions Answered" [Paperback] to see just how much water those guldern things need for maximum return.

It's possible, of course, that I live in a neighborhood that is positively a'flutter with marijuana production, and I'm just blissfully unaware of what is going on around me. I mean, back in high school, a friend of mine opened her bedroom closet one day to show me some pot she was growing under some crudely-fashioned lamps. I was immediately panic-stricken. Part of me wanted to dime on her, because I am, at heart, a narc. Part of me wanted to sleep with her, because she was (and is) from Bangladesh and was (and is) wickedly gorgeous. My friend was, I assumed, the neighborhood anomaly. Most people don't have weed in their closet, I reasoned with myself. And, if they do, I reason today, they're probably not the kind of people who would go to Borders Books & Music and plunk down $21.95 (minus 10% with a Borders Rewards Card!) for hot tips on how to make your leaves larger. I don't know. I guess I'm just disheartened about the state of things. I don't really give a shit that Borders is going out of business. I just kind of long for the days when it was a safe haven for lonely schelps trolling for moderately attractive, educated life-mates, not hapless, hackey-sack-playing, DIY drug-fucks.

Maybe I'm naive. Maybe I'm a prude. But one thing is for sure-- no matter what it looks like, I definitely wasn't high when I took that last picture.

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