August 01, 2003

Ego Stroking

Posted by shonk at 07:01 PM in Ramblings | TrackBack

Last night, I met up with a friend I hadn't seen for nearly a year for a pleasant little Pearl Street get-together. Wait, hold on, let me preface this by saying that the Pearl Street aspect of things wasn't the determining factor in where we were going to meet. No, the important thing was to pick the part of town with the highest concentration of bookstores and ice cream carts. So it was really more of a bookstore crawl, which makes sense since we're both hopelessly addicted to purchasing books. That's not to say we don't occasionally read the books we buy, but the input/output ratio is a little lopsided.

Anyway, we meet in bookstore #1 which is huge, locally-owned and totally unsatisfactory. As usual (needless to say, we've done these sorts of bookstore crawls before), we leave quickly. Though not the only section I peruse, the philosophy section gives an excellent reason as to why: the number of New Age mystical books exceeds the number of actual philosophy books (and in this category I'm including everyone, even Hegel) by a staggering amount. Plus, since so many people in Boulder are obsessed with spiting chain stores, everything is hopelessly overpriced.

The next stop is a used bookstore several blocks away, in the unfashionably car-laden eastern end of Pearl Street, which gives me more than enough time to rant and rave about rocks, my plans and whatever else crosses my mind. I spend a lot of time trying to explain algebraic topology (Highlight: "Okay, so you pick a point at infinity...well, actually not at infinity, just really anywhere away from your manifold"). Needless to say, I am now drawing strange looks from passersby, especially as I begin illustrating my points with my hands while walking down this busy pedestrian mall. Of course, Pearl Street being what it is, I am occassionally drowned out by groups of spaced-out, hippyish people chanting and/or playing drums, buskers simultaneously putting on a show and trying to hustle people, and drunk people being drunk.

The first used bookstore we come to is, typically, closed, despite it being only 8:30 and the sign on the door clearly indicating that it is open until 9:00 on weekdays. The second is still open and, as we enter, I utterly forget the titles of all the books I've been meaning to get. As a result, I am able to escape with minimal damage: $6.99 for two Heinlein books that I realized (once I saw them) I'd been meaning to get anyway (Farnham's Freehold and Glory Road). My presence has a deleterious effect on my friend's wallet, however, as I suggest a couple of books that she ends up buying.

As we are walking back to the other end of Pearl Street, I get so engrossed in talking about my summer that it takes three not-so-subtle hints to remind me of the next item on the agenda: ice cream. It is abundantly clear by this point that the three beers I had before and with dinner are affecting me rather more than I had anticipated. I blame it on the altitude. Anyway, I get a strawberry sorbet on an utterly superfluous (and more expensive) waffle cone. Why was the waffle cone superfluous? Because the flavor of the sorbet totally overwhelms the taste of the waffle cone. In other words, I wasted a dollar. Anyway, aside from getting worked up about people crossing streets against the light, in the middle of traffic (which is not only rude, but highly inefficient), I make it back to my car.

After that, we ended up going to the Barnes & Noble across town, where I note that the blurb on the back of The Celestine Prophesy seems to promise rather more than the book can possibly deliver and my friend decides against getting it, claiming her mind needs to be "opener" before she can read it. Finally, my recent and totally unexplainable fascination with the Holy Grail and the Templars results in me spending another sixteen dollars on Hancock's The Sign and the Seal.

The moral of the story is twofold: first, I talk much more while walking than in any other situation; second, I'm 21 going on middle age. After all, I go out on the town with a friend I haven't seen in months, end up spending $27 on books and ice cream and am home by 10:45. In other words, pretty much exactly what my parents did last Friday night, except they got coffee instead of ice cream.