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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Summer has you Borders-crossing

    Andi Berlinarts columnist
    Andi Berlin
    arts columnist

    Yawning myself awake at 3 p.m., I stretched underneath the covers and half-consciously catalogued my chores for the rest of the day: find some sandwich combination that goes with salmon cream cheese, finish my short story about the water buffalo with the nose job, drive to La Encantada and walk around like I’m rich, continue to comprehend the implications of “”Flatland”” and the fourth dimension, hopefully be able to visualize it, call the Motor Vehicle Department and masturbate.

    It was a lot to do for a supposedly aimless summer day, but perhaps some of the less important tasks could be put off. Well, it was too early to masturbate, too late to eat any kind of cream cheese (a pity, as I’d been looking forward to it all night); La Encantada was too far away and I wasn’t in the mood for sushi; I was na’ve to think I could possibly understand dimensional physics; too hard to call the MVD; and I’d been laying in bed too long to sit at my computer to write. So, for the sake of fitness, I should get up and find something to do.

    Oh well, I thought, I guess I’ll just go to Borders like usual.

    Strolling through the aisles of the literary fiction section, I began to reminisce about my summer. Had I really accomplished anything? All my friends had taken drawing classes or joined the Peace Corps, but what had I done? Well, for a start I had an addiction to Seattle’s Best non-fat iced lattes, and I was getting pretty close with the apple-headed old man who screamed obscenities in the cafǸ.

    But maybe taking a class or going to Somalia would have been better use of my time. For a start, I’d be able to put something else on my rǸsumǸ and I’d probably know a few people named Yusuf, which is always important. But you know, no matter how much Borders is reviled for being a soulless corporate entity that commits the gravest sin of putting a price tag on knowledge, I dunno, I just kinda like it.

    I’m not quite sure what’s so alluring about the chain, especially with so many other quality bookstores around town. Antigone’s on Fourth Avenue is close, but sometimes it gets intimidating unless you’re into Spike Peterson. Even Bookman’s sometimes falls behind Borders, because you can never find the thing you’re looking for and they don’t have coffee.

    Borders, and even Barnes and Noble (only sometimes, their music section isn’t as good), provide all of the necessary elements for summer bookstore ecstasy. In the Park Place location, you’ve got Ulta and Z. Gallery next door, full of face creams and $40 plastic replicas of lobsters. In all the stores, you’ve got an eclectic religious section representing a myriad of philosophical positions on eternity, such as “”The Gospel According to Starbucks: Live with a Grande Passion”” and “”The Blogging Church,”” because heaven is just a click away.

    And believe it or not, Borders contains all of the crazy regulars you frequent Fourth Avenue shops hoping to see. I already noted the old man who has a head shaped like one of those dried apple dolls you made in Girl Scouts. He comes in every day and never reads anything. He just sits in the cafǸ and wheezes, standing up every few minutes to adjust his belt and make a throat noise.

    Sometimes he sputters out nonsensical expressions like, “”The scenery is nice in here,”” and, “”I smell like carrot minestrone,”” but he’s harmless.

    Even the most sterile and carbon-copy places can sometimes have those personalities, those hidden eccentricities that give them character. It’s easy to go to Antigone’s or Bookmans to find originality and a niche group of people, but only the strong-willed possess the skills needed to find them at the mall.

    But really, I have to wonder how much of this is just an overzealous rationalization for my obsession with the mundane. Was I pining through the bestsellers because of summer laziness, or is there really something in my personality that actually craves mall bookstores?

    To be honest, I really don’t know. Part of me thinks the corporation affliction is some feeble attempt for acceptance brought on by too much zucchini and childhood memories of my alcoholic father beating me senseless with a Target sweatshirt, screaming corporate catchphrases while I wept uncontrollably. But that’s too simple.

    The bookstore represents something very core to our values of education and knowledge, something that school can’t even provide. A bookstore gives you a choice. When you go in, there’s an endless promise of knowledge and literature, pursuable in any direction to any degree, but no commitment. You can go in and read about computational physics for three hours until you get tired of it, and then pick up a book on the history of porn (something you could never do in a women’s studies class).

    This is how people like to learn, not through weekly quizzes and forced lectures in classes they aren’t interested in. People learn when they have the power to guide their own education and when they have the drive or maybe just the positive feeling of acquiring some knowledge every now and then. This is what gets them out of bed every afternoon! And it’s a pity that the bookstore is resigned as a summer activity.

    So I don’t know. Maybe taking a drawing class wouldn’t have been such a great idea after all. They’d probably force me to draw pictures of clowns and flowers for three months while I got screamed at by a lady wearing headphones the whole time. Thinking of this, I left the fiction section and strolled over to art. They had to have some drawing books there.

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