Galleons, as you are well aware, I am a lady who has given her heart to science. I like to think of myself, not as an expert in the field, but as a renaissance girl who dabbles in all the myriad disciplines the hard sciences (and, on occasion, some of the soft sciences) have to offer. To steal from the bard (and amend his words to suit my purposes, because that’s how I do):
My mistress’s eyes are the sun… and the stars and the elements and the Krebs cycle and quantum foam and Punnett squares and photosynthesis and pulsars and…
Well, anyway, you get the idea.
Outwardly, I am aware I don’t always convey the stereotypical look of even a recreational science scholar. Then again, I think few academics really live up to the tweed-and-glasses imagery evoked when most consider a person who devotes time and energy to the pursuit of knowledge.
Regardless, while most people express surprise (and, frequently, disbelief) upon first learning of my geektastic ways, I find I will never get used to that initial judgment.
And I certainly will not get used to it when treated patronizingly while frequenting a goddamn bookstore.
This afternoon, I decided to spend my time leisurely wandering Grand River and then retiring to the library for some comforting downtime among my dearest friends- books. As Michele McKay Aynesworth’s poem, The Dependable Blackness of Ink, goes:
There comes a moment when
life’s treasures tumble
like kaleidoscope shards
and the moving warmth of human flesh
gives way to the stillness of words
pinned in the middle of a book –
that moment when you reach out to feel
not the flow of hair or the rhythm of fingers
but the steady presence of a printed page,
and the color of your loved one’s eyes
becomes subsumed by
the dependable blackness of ink.
It was in Barnes and Noble, often a security blanket-type locale I retreat to during times of emotional duress, that I was thoroughly insulted a mere hour ago.
As is my usual, upon entering the establishment, I hopped on the escalator and rode down to the science section. While browsing through the titles, smiling at the book entitled The Male Brain (as if even science could help one understand the opposite sex), running my fingers over a book on Richard Feynman, and flipping through a book about the science of fear, I happened to glance up at the railing overlooking the lower section. There stood two B&N employees, staring at me, the male smirking while the female giggled. The moment I glanced up, they departed, almost guiltily.
Convinced I was imagining things (as I am wont to do- I retain that vaguely adolescent trait of believing people are constantly talking about me… I blame my rampant narcissism), I went back to my browsing.
And, as is too often the case, my eyes alighted upon a book that I just couldn’t pass up. A book by Carl Sagan debunking parascience and, as I like to call it, “paranormal fuckery.”
Considering my recent frustrations with people believing said nonsense, I really couldn’t resist what will probably amount to a soothing, cathartic read by one of my favorite scientists. And so, with the skip of literary discovery joy that I know well, I pranced up to the checkout.
Handling my purchase was the male employee from before. He looks at me, with that same strange twinkle in his eye, as he glances down at the book I’m buying.
Him: So, who is this for?
I pause for a moment before responding that it is, in fact, for me. This is followed by him giving me a long, hard look, still smirking, before saying:
No, really. Who are you buying this for?
I’m taken aback. Short skirt and pigtails (it’s hot, dammit- despite my distaste for pigtails, they are the hairstyle that keeps me coolest when gallivanting about in this blasted Michigan humidity) notwithstanding, do I honestly look so vapid that I couldn’t possibly be purchasing this for myself? Again, I assert the text is for me.
Him: Uh huh…
I’m pissed. Immediately. Thoroughly. I’m seeing red, seething, ready to clamber unceremoniously over that counter and claw his face off while blasting him with the basics of quantum theory. Coldly, I ask that he just ring up my purchase, as I’m in a hurry. Still with that infuriating smirk, he does so, handing it back to me.
The word drips with sarcasm. My mouth is a thin line, my jaw locked in fury. How dare he? Through clenched teeth, I say I will, snatching the book off the counter and stalking out of the store.
So, I’m now sitting in my old haunt (4th floor east, you magnificent place, you), still fuming. And while I’m almost certainly overreacting, I don’t care.
To borrow another’s recent catchphrase, cocksucker.