Memorable Moments in an Alien World

{October 7, 2012}   Unintended Consequences

I like books. Not nooks. Not ipads. Real, physical books. Furthermore, I enjoy supporting local businesses that have to compete with “the big guys,” so when my brother was out for a visit this weekend and we were cruising down Santa Monica Blvd, I said, “You know, I really want to buy a book on the history of LA. There’s an independent bookstore that I always pass on the way to church that looks great, but I’ve never stopped in. Can we take a small detour?”

My brother – who loves books as much as I do – quickly agreed and a few minutes later we parked down a side street and as we walked to the store, he inquired, “Do you think they have used books here?”

“Probably,” I responded. “I think they have a little of everything. After all, it’s called the ‘Circus of Books.'” We walked inside and I was immediately on the hunt for anything having to do with Los Angeles, but the first thing to greet my eyes was an extensive selection of bongs in a glass case. The second thing I saw was a large poster of two naked men locked in an embrace. And another poster. And another. And still more. Pretty much all around the store.

Undeterred, I quickly made my way to the books, scouring them with my eyes to try and find one on LA. This was WeHo after all, though I admit I didn’t expect the book store to be quite that WeHo. While I searched, my brother made the smallest of noises, which I interpreted to mean, “I am so uncomfortable here. Let’s go!” Under my breath, I said to him, “Just look at the books, look at the books and it’ll be fine!” Because we were truly all together surrounded with photos of gay lovers. My hope of finding a book on the history of LA fell dramatically as I perused the titles, seemingly placed in no particular order on the shelves: Boy Meets Boy, Truth in the Dark, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, Epistemology of the ClosetThe Homosexual MatrixGuy to Goddess: An Intimate Look at Drag Queens and oh so many more.

After about 20 more seconds, I gave my brother the nod and we left the store, thanking the bemused owner on our way out. Apparently it was a different kind of circus of books than what I thought it would be and I felt glad I hadn’t gone in there by myself, but was able to share the experience with someone else.

Of course the unintended consequence was that I possibly permanently scarred by brother and deterred him from ever wanting to explore West Hollywood with me (of which I still think is one of the coolest neighborhoods around).

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