Unlike most reasonable people, I don’t go to AWP to make connections, further my career, or meet others with similar interests, although I might make vague plans to do as such that inevitably go unfulfilled. I go to goof off with people I already know, riff endlessly on very stupid and esoteric inside jokes (this year’s involved a suitcase full of sub sandwiches), act like a maniac, and feel as alienated from the rest of the world as ever. (Maybe next year, when I have a book to promote shamelessly, I’ll be more professional, but I doubt it.) I did buy a bunch of stuff, though, the best of it a batch of used books at the excellent Myopic: some Richard Brautigan titles (including a first edition Dreaming of Babylon, which I’ve been wanting to reread), a weirdly shaped edition of Nathaniel West novellas, A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics, and of course some hilarious smut, Dr. Sex, and an untitled book about the body and mind health benefits of spanking. I was also glad to convince my friend Woody to purchase some of my old favorites: Let the Dog Drive by David Bowman and Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World by Donald Antrim.
Shortly after we arrived (via luxurious MegaBus) in Chicago, my friend Ian and I wandered into a subterranean vintage shop, which was empty save for the owner and her young teenage daughter. There were some photos from the 1950s and 60s pinned to the wall. We asked the owner if they were for sale. They weren’t, she said, but she brought out a couple of Ziploc bags full of photos that were.
“Are you two artists?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “We’re just perverts.” I was kidding, but she didn’t think so–and weirdly, this confession seemed to charm her so much that she started making moves to hook us (either one or both of us, though I’d say I was the favorite) up with her high school aged daughter, asking us about our fashion senses and trying to get us to try on and model hats for them. Apparently being a pair of sexually ambiguous guys who wander smilingly into a vintage store, ask where the good antique malls are, and call themselves perverts marked us as prime bachelors to this lady.
“Dance with us,” she said as Queen’s “Under Pressure” came on the radio. The daughter was fully cooperative and already dancing. I was giggling nervously and Ian was visibly uncomfortable. We bought a bunch of photos (I’d picked out some nice ones of teenagers acting snotty) and left.