I have been very busy lately with solar panel paperwork lately, so here’s a bit of cheap satire about Christmas shopping at bookstores these days. A few words of explanation:
· Chapters is the big Canadian chain bookstore, rather like Barnes and Noble.
· Whyte avenue is a trendy urban neighborhood in my home city of Edmonton, Canada, with plenty of buskers and other interesting city sights.
· The Strathcona Farmer’s market has a great cheese selection, among other things, and is just a few blocks from Chapters.
· Monty Python is one of the funniest TV shows ever done, and the Cheese Shop sketch is a classic.
The Book Shop (with apologies to Monty Python and their Cheese Shop sketch)
(a customer walks in the door)
Customer: Good Morning.
Clerk: Good morning, Sir. Welcome to Chapters Indigo!
Customer: Ah, thank you, my good man.
Clerk: What can I do for you, Sir?
Customer: Well, I was, uh, sitting in the cheese section of the Strathcona Farmer’s Market on Whyte Avenue just now, sampling the selection of Edams by Sylvan Star, and I suddenly came over all bookish.
Clerk: Bookish, sir?
Customer: I were all readerly-like!
Clerk: Ah, readerly!
Customer: In a nutshell. And I thought to myself, "a few inked-up paper folios will do the trick," so, I curtailed my cheesy activities, sallied forth, and infiltrated your place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some bookish consumables!
Clerk: Come again?
Customer: I want to buy some books.
Clerk: Oh, I thought you were complaining about the street buskers!
Customer: Oh, heaven forbid: I am one who delights in all manifestations of the Harmoncan muse!
Customer: 'Oh, Ah like a nice tune, 'when I’m forced to!
Clerk: So he can go on playing, can he?
Customer: Most certainly! Now then, some books please, my good man.
Clerk: (lustily) Certainly, sir. What would you like?
Customer: Well, eh, how about a little literary fiction.
Clerk: I'm, a-fraid we're fresh out of literary fiction, sir. Perhaps a nice pillow.
Customer: Oh, never mind the pillows, how are you on mysteries?
Clerk: I'm afraid we never have that at the end of the week, sir, we get them fresh on Monday.
Customer: Tish tish. No matter. Well, stout yeoman, the final four volumes of Harry Potter, if you please.
Clerk: Ah! They’ve beeeen on order, sir, for two weeks. Was expecting it this morning.
Customer: 'T's Not my lucky day, is it? Aah, Bel Hooks?
Clerk: Sorry, sir. How about a blanket?
Customer: I don’t want a blanket, I want a book. Science Fiction?
Clerk: Normally, sir, yes. Today the van broke down.
Customer: Ah. History?
Customer: Classics? Shakespeare?
Clerk: No. A scented candle? It sets the stage.
Customer: No. Any Norwegian playwrights, Ibsen per chance?
Clerk: No. Fresh out of Ibsen. A DVD on Vikings?
Customer: No, I want a book. Finance?
Clerk: No. But we have a monopoly game. It contains Reading Railroad.
Customer: That’s not how you pronounce it. And it’s not a book, is it?
Clerk: No, sir. Not technically. But is sounds like it could be.
Customer: Game of Thrones?
Clerk: Ah, no, but we have the game of chess.
Customer: Is that a book called The Game of Chess?
Clerk: Not as such sir. More of a chess set, really.
Customer: A travel book then - a Danish dictionary?
Clerk: No. No sir, but we have Danishes in the Starbucks.
Clerk: Yes, sir, I am very serious.
Customer: (rolling eyes) Horror?
Clerk: (Jumps) Where?
Customer: Well, not in this supposed bookshop, obviously. Action and Adventure?
Clerk: No, sir, the life of a bookstore clerk is pretty dull.
Customer: Drama, Self-help, Cookbooks, Religion, Anthologies, True Crime, Law, Poetry?
Customer: Camus, perhaps?
Clerk: Ah! We have Camus, yessir.
Customer: (suprised) You do! Excellent.
Clerk: Yessir. It's..ah,.....it's a bit dog eared...
Customer: Oh, I like dog eared existentialists.
Clerk: Well,.. It's very dog eared, actually, sir.
Customer: No matter. Fetch hither the livre de la Belle France! Mmmwah!
Clerk: I...think it's a bit more dog eared than you'll like it, sir.
Customer: I don't care how dog eared it is. Hand it over with all speed.
Clerk: Oooooooooohhh........! (pause)
Customer: What now?
Clerk: The dog's eaten it.
Customer: (pause) Has he.
Clerk: She, sir.
Customer: (pause) Perhaps English existentialism, then. The play about Godot?
Clerk: Afraid we’re still waiting for that one sir.
Customer: Naturally. Western adventure?
Customer: Eastern philosophy?
Customer: Northern Exploration?
Customer: Southern Gothic?
Clerk: No, sir. But we have a wide selection of maps and compasses.
Customer: You...do *have* some books, don't you?
Clerk: (brightly) Of course, sir. It's a book shop, sir. We've got—
Customer: No, no... don't tell me. I'm keen to guess.
Clerk: Fair enough.
Customer: Uuuuuh, Children’s books.
Customer: Ah, well, I'll have some of those!
Clerk: Oh! I thought you were talking to me, sir. Mister Childrensbooks, that's my name.
Customer: (pause) And a most inappropriate one. Greek drama? Euripides?
Clerk: (looking down anxiously) I ripped my what sir?
Customer: Uuh, Economics?
Customer: Political Science,
Customer: The Joy of Sex,
Clerk: Flattered, sir, but you’re not my type.
Customer: There doesn’t seem to be much type around here, especially of the printed variety. Czech poetry,
Clerk: I already checked earlier, sir, there is no poetry.
Customer: Venezuelan astrophysical journals?
Clerk: Not *today*, sir, no.
Customer: (pause) Aah, how about the Bible?
Clerk: Well, we don't get much call for it around here, sir.
Customer: Not much ca-- it's the single most popular book in the world!
Clerk: Not 'round here, sir.
Customer: (slight pause) and what IS the most popular book 'round hyah?
Clerk: The Kama Sutra, sir.
Customer: IS it.
Clerk: Oh, yes, it's staggeringly popular in on this avenue, squire.
Customer: Is it.
Clerk: It's our number one best seller, sir!
Customer: I see. Uuh...'The Kama Sutra’, eh?
Clerk: Right, sir.
Customer: All right. Okay. 'Have you got it?' he asked, expecting the answer 'no'.
Clerk: I'll have a look, sir........nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno.
Customer: It's not much of a book shop, is it?
Clerk: Finest on the avenue!
Customer: (annoyed) Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.
Clerk: Well, it's so clean, sir!
Customer: It's certainly uncontaminated by books....
Clerk: (brightly) You haven't asked me about thrillers, sir.
Customer: Would it be worth it?
Clerk: Could be....
Customer: Have you --SHUT THAT BLOODY HARMONICA OFF!
Clerk: Told you sir....
Customer: (slowly) Have you got any thrillers?
Customer: Figures. Predictable, really I suppose. It was an act of purest optimism to have posed the question in the first place. Tell me:
Customer: (deliberately) Have you in fact got any books here at all.
Clerk: Yes, sir.
Clerk: No. Not really, sir.
Customer: You haven't.
Clerk: Nosir. Not a scrap. It’s because of Amazon - we can’t match their prices. I was deliberately wasting your time, sir, hoping you would buy a $40 pillow or a $20 scented candle.
Customer: Well I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to shop on-line for a book now.
Clerk: Right-Oh, sir.
(The customer takes out an iPad and buys Nathan’s Adventure in the Other-Other Land from Amazon)
Customer: (shaking head) What a *senseless* waste of time this bookstore visit was. (smiles) Oh, well, this Amazon book looks like just the thing for my little nephew.
And here’s a vaguely related comic strip: