Has this ever happened to you?
Wednesday night, I was in my favorite store in the whole world, which I could only describe as an Amoeba for used magazines. I’ve been frequenting this place for 11 years, but this was my first visit since returning to town from a 3 year absence. I’d thought about this place the whole time I was living in LA, and was disappointed that a similar store didn’t exist down there.
But when I walked into the store it was as if no time had passed. There’s nothing I love more than soaking the smell of magazine stock stretching back to the 1940’s amidst decks of antique furniture, sounded by oldies coming thinly over the AM dial. Seriously, I felt as though I could have experienced a Somewhere In Time-like warp within those walls; nothing inside there could humble me to the cold reality that the calendar outside reads 2006.
Anyway, I was in one of the numerous, remote aisles where periodicals are stacked seven feet high, flipping through fashion magazines from the ’80s and early ’90s. I was oblivious to time as it passed me by when, suddenly, the lights went out. Normally, I’d take that as a cue to come to the register with my purchases, but within the rows of towering shelves which fill this huge store, the flick of the switch made things pitch black. I stood there a moment, thinking the checker would turn the lights back on, but a whole minute passed. Then the music went off, and it occurred to me that I’d best not wait any longer, and proceeded through the dark towards the front of the store. But just as I was getting there, the checker was already outside locking the door shut. I got to the door and pounded on the window as he was walking away, but he didn’t hear me. I was now trapped inside!
I thought for a moment about calling a locksmith, but I didn’t want to spend fifty bucks just to get out of there. I walked around looking for side doors, but to no avail. I checked the time, which was 7:00 PM, and according to the business hours posted next to the clock, I’d be trapped inside until 10:00 AM the next day. With a sigh, I decided to sit the time out.
Suddenly, a sense of fun overtook me. Here I was, with my favorite store in the whole world all to myself for the next 15 hours. I had all the magazines I could ever want, a snack stand, as well as the second wing to the warehouse in which paperbacks and furniture are sold. Alas, the only handy light in the entire place was located in the bathroom, but I could still feel my way around. So I grabbed some candy and a big stack of fashion magazines, and then pulled up a seat in the bathroom door (it was a clean, employee’s only facility.) And when I got tired, I rolled up on one of the used sofas and slept for a couple hours.
It’s amazing how I always thought about that store while I was away in LA, given the special importance it holds with me that no one else could possibly understand. And now, with this experience, I feel really attached to that place, like a part of me is forever embedded into those walls.