Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seven Valentine's Days 6: 2002

One year after the infamous Boston Debacle, I learned to laugh at Cupid again.  All things considered, I still think it's a fairly impressive turnaround time.  This was my first Valentine's Day working for Borders, where I had already begun to make new friends and pick up the pieces.  I was stuck on the night shift with Jason - still one of mine and Rhea's nearest and dearest - and his equally bleak view of all things snuggly that year made him a perfect partner in crime.  I'm not sure if I wore all black that evening, but I'm fairly certain that he did.  Together, we mixed wit, wisdom and whining into an over the top joke-a-minute cocktail so acidic you just had to laugh, or at least groan, with us provided you had any sort of soul at all.

That was a big "provided", at least as far as our customers were concerned.  Contrary to whatever your favorite Hugh Grant movie may have led you to believe over the years, there are no cute couples in the bookstore on Valentine's Night, and there are very few highly eligible prospects (save for the staff, of course) haunting the aisles, either.  In the case of the former, I was just fine: I was mending, sure, but hardly cured at that point, and the lack of nuzzling to bear witness to was a relief.  The latter were exactly what you'd expect: overweight, disheveled, poorly laundered, sweatpants enthusiasts.  Some of them were at least funny about their losing lot in life, and it was from them that some small amount of hope could be drawn: perhaps they'll meet someone who sees the good in 'em, has the patience to scrub them up and give 'em a one way ticket to a more appealing persona.  The rest were just irascible - thankfully, none of them really wanted much out of we, the staff.  So we muttered under our breaths and back in the stockroom, giving them names and back stories and, more often than not, fabricated criminal records.  We reveled in their and our misery, puffing it up past the point of plausibility and taking a pin to it at exactly the right moment.  Cupid may arrive dressed in black sometimes, but there's always light in humor.

I learned an important lesson that night, one applicable to much more than just matters of the heart.  Everybody ends up somewhere they didn't really want to be at some point in their life.  When everything around you is burnt, charred and left for dead, sometimes being the funniest lost soul in Hell is the easiest way to cut to the front of the line for the next boat back across the river Styx.

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