Apr 24, 2012

V is for ... Van Gogh vs Appalachia

Ow, my ear!
I love bookstores. I know they're a dying breed, but I love them. I love the atmosphere. I love the smell. I love looking at covers and seeing what other folks gravitate toward.

Until last summer, the closest bookstore(a 45 min drive away) was Waldenbooks. But they closed(don't ask how far to the new local bookstore). So on my last visit, I was grumpy, and more sarcastic than usual.

It was packed, Going-Out-of-Business style. The girls working constantly ran to and from the backroom, coming out with armloads of books to shelve. You had to feel bad for them.

One especially small girl(I'd be surprised if she scraped 5'), came out with a massive load of books in one arm and delivered them to the art section. In the shelf space she'd intended to fill, sat a massive coffeetable book on Van Gogh, turned so the cover faced out. Huge thing. Top shelf.

With her plucky spirit, and clearly no concept of how heavy that book was going to be, she anchored her book-bearing elbow to her hip and tried to shift this crazy Van Gogh book with one hand.

I was a few rows back and I could just tell this was going to end badly, so I started weaving through the sea of bargain-hunters to try and help her. She tried all different ways to maneuver it. On the shelf. In the air. Using her thigh as shelf... And just as I got near her, her frustration went nuclear and she lobbed that sucker to a curiously empty spot of floor beside her.


Her supervisor looked like she was gearing up to yell at the poor girl. I hate to see that kind of thing, so I thought... I'll save her! I'll distract them! Yeah! They'll laugh, tension will dissipate, and no one will cry.

The only thing that came to me was: "I heard that's how he lost an ear!"

They both turned and looked at me like I had some version of Tourette's that made me shout out random weird stuff in public--no idea what I was talking about.

The cover of the book? The self-portrait of Van Gogh at the top of the page. Note the placement of the BANDAGE on the former ear.

Still, they had no idea. At that point, my well of clever stuff to say went dry. After turning the color of a bloody ear-stump, I just kind of slunk off to another aisle...

This is what I learned: A mall in Appalachia is no place to waste a perfectly good Van Gogh joke.


  1. That's a good comeback on your part. Some people have no sense of humor.

    Speaking of Tourette's, I was at a hockey game once and the announcer was tripping over his words crazily. I turned to the chap next to me, whom I didn't know (you see this coming, right?)and I blurted, 'That dude is a Christian with Tourette's...he didn't curse!'

    The dude looked at me, along with his girlfriend and said some bad words, and he wasn't having a spell.

    The moral is even though we are funny or witty, some people just can't hang with a joke.

    1. Doh! But I hate a brilliant wasted joke!

      I probably would have freaked if some dude at a hockey game started a verbal assault. What did you do? You can't get away, tickets have assigned seating!

  2. Such a funny story. I have more than once tried to be clever with strangers, only to turn the color of a bloody ear stump (now that's an image I'll not soon forget).


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