Wednesday, 24 December 2008



Christmas did come early yesterday as this week’s comics were released on Tuesday rather than Thursday, meaning breaking habit and going to pick up. Comic-book buyers are creatures of habit, prone to OCD levels of neuroses when it comes to their slot. Which means, you tend to invariably see the same dudes for the same thirty minutes and interact with the same shop clerk every week. Comic book nerds can cope with this level of interaction as it doesn’t require too much changing of habit thus risking meeting new people. So anyway, yesterday I had to deal with a shop clerk I had never met before and some new choice nerds with their own set of habitual anti-social behaviour. While the shop clerk, a teenage emo girl with itching new tattoos and a strong South African accent, searched through the box of standing orders for my weekly draw, scratching herself into a coma on her lower back and arm, bearing two new tattoos, I stood waiting patiently. A man, old enough to be a dad- probably not a dad- bounced from foot to foot desperate to be served, desperate to have his comics, sighing neurotically as the shop clerk went through the box twice to find my folder. I was used to the slowness, what with the chatting and sharing of stories and new films/shows peppering the process usually. This time, there was no banter. The shop clerk and I felt the need for comic banter, which is why anyone works at a comic shop or goes to a comic shop- just for that ‘OMG did you see...’ conversation- but the looming impatience of Mr Asperger stood next to me cast a gloomy cloud of no-fun on proceedings. She found my folder but it was empty. The owner, Tim, hadn’t reached me yet. I turned to the shelves and picked them up myself. Mr Asperger said to me as I spun around: ‘They didn’t have your comics ready? My god. This world is turning to shit.’

I grabbed my comics and turned round to watch Mr Asperger deal with the shop clerk. He plonked his comics down on the counter. The following exchange ensued:

‘Why aren’t these bagged and carded?’
‘Erm... sorry, I can do it for you now. I’m on my own today. Tim’s ill.’
‘I need them bagged and carded. Tim usually does it before I come in. He knows I come on Tuesday evenings. Can you do it quickly before they get ruined? Now.’
‘OK. Sure. Tim’s ill.’
‘I’m not interested in his health. Be careful of the comics. You have oily-looking hands.’
‘Well, do you want to do it?’
‘I’m not employed to bag comics. You are. Card them too.’
‘We don’t have any cards.’
‘We’ve run out of cards and it’s Christmas so the delivery won’t get here till next week.’
‘We have no cards.’
‘I don’t understand. Tim always cards and bags my comics. Always. Without fail.’
‘We’re out of stock of cards. Shall I just bag them?’
‘I’m sorry but I really don’t understand this. Why don’t you have cards? This is a comic shop. Comic shops have cards. I can’t take these without cards. They’ll get ruined.’
‘Shall I serve this gentleman (me) first and then we deal with this? I was serving him first.’
‘No. I was here before him. He can wait.’

It went on but you get the gist. He may have been OCD or have Aspergers but I don’t think so. I see this behaviour every week. The insane demands, the unpredictable behaviour of the nerd. The inability to relate to people in 3-D. Maybe this is what my friend meant the other night about real-life. When nerds emerge from their dimly lit bunkers having been online playing Second Life for hours with Battlestar Galactica in the background, they probably have forgotten basic human interaction protocols. Is this the life I am eventually destined for? Can you be a well-adjusted nerd?

Later that night, we watched ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’ the Br-Angelina starrer about quite the marital pickle. Imagine, being married to an assassin... but being one yourself but then getting a job involving killing each other. Wow. Crazy dayz. The premise wasn’t what bothered me, suspension of disbelief and all meant I was semi-intelligent enough to go with it. It was the script, the weird asides each character had. You had to believe that these two were savvy smart impossibly cool people. The way they were intelligent enough to cross, double-cross, bluff and double-bluff each other was intelligent and convenient. But it was the asides, the asides to an audience the director didn’t feel was intelligent to get the subtlety of the aforementioned whizz-bang plot, where, in case you were wondering, they were conflicted about having to kill each other. Maybe they really did love each other. They would talk to themselves, this was the dramatic device used to induce subtlety... ‘I don’t love him, do I?’ Angie would wonder. ‘She’s a liar, a stone-cold killer’ Bradford kept telling himself. Every now and then in films, it cuts to a really pointless bit of clawing hammering dialogue where the hero or villain will get to squeal adlibs of ‘Come on...’ or ‘Yeah bitch....’ or ‘I’m gonna get you sucka...’ and you think, why is this here... why do they feel the need to strip away any second-guessing from the audience. Usually it’s in films where directors think a dumbass audience will be attracted. I don’t get it really. The worst example of this was the driver’s cat-calling to Kurt Russell in Death Proof. She spent an entire 20- minutes doing the ‘I’m gonna get you sucka’ when driving really fast would have done. Is this the Bay-ification of cinema as Mark Kermode calls it?

It’s Christmas tomorrow. Doesn’t feel like it yet. But my elevenes today is a mince pie.

See you next year.

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