Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One of those quote ones

Bathroom Monologue: “Would you rather spend a day reading a book or going to a big box store?” –Somebody asking Neal Stephenson a question on his At Google interview

We started in the sports section. One can always rely on some Nerf or Nerf-knockoff ball to come in minimal packaging and thus be useful for testing. Nat went long, sometimes as far as two aisles as my wide receiver. Vanessa rolled her eyes and laughed, nearly peeing herself when I completely overshot Nat’s department and hit a mirror. It did not break, but our luck was out and we migrated.

We migrated to the toy aisle, examining points of articulation on action figures and arguing over what lines of toys we’d actually like to see. Toys begat videogames, and the price tags on videogames shuffled us further over to the media section, to watch the newest crappy blockbuster DVD release play out on HD TV sets we couldn’t afford. We ogled superhero movies and shiny fantastic journeys before settling on the row of $5 DVD’s. Thank You For Smoking was quite a steal at that price, and Nat made sure to go through every DVD. And why not? We had all day.

We feasted on twizzlers and Reese’s cups, picked up potato bread, milk and other grown-up necessities, and complained about how expensive drinks were becoming. If you broke it down, wasn’t this red stuff a dollar-fifty a bottle? Scandalous.

Full on candy and sports drinks, we charged to furniture, figuring out what would look nice in the hypothetical apartment we’d one day rent. The three of us playing like this in a room of our own on the upper east side, or the way lower side of something with more reasonable rent. That black coffee table, these coasters, and the sofa we all nearly fell asleep on, until someone in a Target shirt walked by.

As the day closed we headed for the exit, meandering through the book section. I grabbed one of the new paperback copies of something I’d longed for but couldn’t afford in hardcover.

I thumbed through it on the way to checkout, and Nat asked, “Weren’t you supposed to be reading today?”

“I read everyday,” I told him. “Pounded four books already this month. Then I woke up this morning with this strange and somewhat stupid idea that all I could do all day was read or go to Target. No clue why I couldn’t have gone and then come back home and read, or go do something else entirely – but I felt stuck in the ultimatum. And I figured if I was going to do one of the two all day I should do the one I could do with friends.”

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