This morning, I'm dealing with the aftermath of our Giant Hootenanny Paper Anniversary Customer Appreciation Poulon Weedeater One Year Anniversary Party. It was more wonderful than I could have hoped. It was a gathering of the best possible combination of smart, literate, funny friends and well wishers. It left me with a certain level of disarray in the store and a bout of the kind of torpor that comes from working at a frenzied pace to pull a big event together and then having it come and go.
It strikes me that this 24 hour period is fairly typical of the reason a move must be imminent. Last night, the store was full of people and music, life and activity. People were eating and talking, grooving to the music, running around with their little scavenger hunt sheets in hand, gloating over door prizes. This morning, the inevitable letdown of, welcome back baby, to the po' side of town. No money coming in. Bills in the mail. Tattoo parlor bursting at the seams, book store not so much. The combination of these factors, along with the introspective affliction that strikes me around any anniversary, have thrown me into a strange mood. Be forewarned. This will be some indication: I decided almost subconsciously I'm in a vintage country state of mind and have been listening to George Strait on auto play for over three hours.
This morning, unlike most second Saturdays in which the town sleeps off its collective Friday For the Arts hangover, I had several people in and out. A lady from the library dropped off a book that had been delivered to them by mistake. Another lady came by and picked the book up (she had paid for it in anticipation of the dropoff). A woman who works at one of the local antiques places stopped by to kill time because their business was also dreadfully slow. The merchant organization secretary dropped in to confirm some information. And a woman came in with her young daughter while the husband kept an eagle eye peeled on the tattoo parlor door for any sign of opening. There's kind of a rock concert flavor to the parking lot sometimes. People start showing up an hour or so before the tattoo place opens, and then they tailgate and jockey around for position until the staff throws open the gates and starts handing out numbers. Sometimes the would-be ink-ees go in search of food or a bathroom, while the designated anchor man holds down their place. This particular family showed up at 11:55 for a 1 p.m. opening, the better to be first in line. I watched them run through the standard routine of: check the door (locked), look at their watches, gaze bewilderedly up at the sun, check the hours sign, try the door again (still locked), check the second entrance (also, if you can believe it, locked) and finally resign themselves to the fact that the place was, indeed, still closed. They sat in the car for a few minutes, got out and smoked, walked down the alley and back and finally, the woman brought the kid (who had been staring in this direction since they arrived) in my store.
The kid reminded me of myself at 10 years old--beside herself with excitement at being in a bookstore, exclaiming over title after title, begging her mother to let her get a book. The answer? "You should have brought one from home if you wanted something to read." This woman had dragged her kid out on a Saturday morning to hang out with her for a couple of hours at Petersburg Ink. She was about to drop a couple hundred bucks for a new dragon in a bed of roses tattoo (this is a guess based on historical precedent) but couldn't find $2.50 in the budget for a used kids' book. It's not like the kid was begging for the latest shoot-em-up video game. At any rate, the man called the woman on her cell phone from across the parking lot to tell her that the doors were open, and that was the end of the kid's bookstore excursion.
The same little family JUST left the tattoo parlor and piled back in their car, the kid still staring forlornly in my direction. They were there for over 3 1/2 hours. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to just give the kid a book. It wouldn't have changed anything substantial, but it might have made us both feel better. In that same span of time, I've made exactly $38 in sales and seen over forty people enter the tattoo parlor. In keeping with my nostalgic music theme: We gotta get out of this place.