Today at work a man approached me and asked if we had any copies of the Anarchist's Cookbook.
Is it a real cookbook? I asked.
No, he said. Or maybe any copies of The Book of Revenge?
Now here's the thing. Customers bring all manner of things through the queue, and I do not bat an eye. I pride myself on not batting an eye. I don't care if they're buying nudie mags, or books about sex with robots (true story), or the biographies of Glenn Beck or my arch nemesis Tim Tebow. I don't believe in censorship, and I don't believe it's my business what people choose to look at or read. I'm just happy they're buying it and not sneaking it into the men's restroom (often true story).
So when this gentlemen asked for these materials, I said, without any inflection: Is it about anarchy?
Because I was starting to get a feeling, but I honestly wasn't sure. Are we talking about bombs, or baking? Sometimes you just don't know.
This is when a co-worker chimed in and helped me. She told the aspiring Anarchist that we hadn't seen those books in in awhile. He thanked us and left, and a few minutes, while working with another customer, I replayed the conversation in my head and began to laugh hysterically.
"Is it a real cookbook?" I had asked him. What the hell was I thinking? What would they teach in the Anarchist's Cookbook? How to bake cookies without measuring precise cups of flour--because you know, down with the rules, and all that? Tips for using barbecue grills illegally? All the things a young anarchist needs to know about roasting a chicken without government interference? Don't measure out the vanilla extract, it might say. Just go ahead and pour in as much as you feel. Freedom from state! IS IT A REAL COOKBOOK, I asked him??
We have these customers, at Borders. One old farmer in a worn hat. It took me awhile to realize that he wasn't coming in for books on woodworking or metallurgy. He was coming in to have a chat. Once I wised up, I made a point of small talk. How's the table coming. How you handling the heat? You seen our new stuff on ship-in-a-bottle-building? He'd go away for an hour. Then he'd return.
We'd chat again.
I never asked if he had a wife. I don't think he did.
I worry about him, and the others like him. Widowers or old bachelors with no one at home. Borders is the only gig in town. Where are these folks going to go? Will someone remember to set aside the magazines on Will and Kate for the old ladies? The Linda Lael Miller McKettrick series that are supposed to be sent back? Will the people at the other stores know the difference between the need for a book, and the need for human connection?
Will the old men do their crosswords alone?
I learned today that Mercury is in retrograde and really, that explains it all. Don't worry, my mom taught me how astrology is the devil's work, but here's the deal: You know how attached I am to my Gemini sign (married a Gemini. BFF is a Gemini. I always get along with Geminis, and you know we're the Twins, right?) and if you were a fly on our wall these last few weeks you'd have witnessed the effects of Mercury getting all down with its retro self for sure. Things are topsy-turvy. I spoke harshly to Mr. V THROUGH THE INTERNETS which I've never done before. We can blame the heat too, ok? Let's blame that. I know this much is true: I've been working out, I've been taking my B vitamins, I've been eating healthy and avoiding sweets and my stress levels are still through the roof.
Add to that the fact that my computer froze up twice today and we've got ourselves a case of Old School Mercury. No doubts about it.
Here is what I want: to keep bees. I can't think of a better thing on any level. Metaphorically, spiritually, environmentally. The honey bees are dying. If you start to cry apocalypse I will hold on to reason for awhile but eventually I will give in and fret. I don't want the honey bees to die. I don't want the world to end, because I'm a big fan of this place and call me crazy, but the apocalypse doesn't sound like a kickin' good time. There's a high chance of pestilence, and a low chance of Dean Winchester.
I like the community of the lives of bees. The female leadership. The precise, miraculous proportions of the hive, both in structure and population. It is mystical to me. How do the bees know? Bees do what they were made to do without asking why. Their yield is both beautiful and sweet. I think I could learn from the bees.
I would like to keep bees to help the earth. Because bees in the ancient world linked this world to the next. I would like to keep bees as a meditation for my soul. To learn to take something I've been afraid of in my life, and coax it sweet.
Did you know you have to talk to your bees? Neil Gaiman knows. Beekeepers say that if you don't tell the bees the news, they'll leave. They'll want to be informed of births or deaths. They want to know if you've fallen in love. There were earthquakes all over today and I can't help thinking that someone ought to alert the bees.
There are so many things we still don't know.
"I dreamt--marvelous error!--that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures."-Antonio Machado.
I don't know. I think that says it all.