Though they seem to be dying a slow death, indie record stores still exist and their employees' antics were completely lifted by Nick Hornby. I've met a few of these guys in my time, but it has been years since I've ventured into one of these places. I miss them, the staff, and their absurd conversations they have totally out loud, showing complete disdain or indifference to anyone within earshot.
What I didn't know, is that these situations, these characters, can cross into other arenas where the staff are equally passionate, knowledgeable and downright nerdy. I met a group of them last weekend with my kids at the local indie comic shop. My son had been invited to a birthday party and knowing that his friend was a GI Joe fan, we decided to buy him a few comics as a present.
Heroes Aren't Hard to Find is a superbly cool place to be on a lazy Saturday afternoon. First of all, the store itself is fantastic. There's a giant comic book character with weird, silver silo-ish arms sprouting from the counter and into the ceiling. The comics and books are in pristine, and I do mean, no reason why you couldn't find anything, order. Like the floors, the glass cases are sparkling clean, and have an awesome assortment of characters for sale. I will probably NEVER buy one of these, but I love looking at them and never fail to give them more than just passing glances when there. Heroes is painted a dark blue, but with bright spots of secondary colors. For example, the bench is a sunny yellow, and the perfect spot for perching with a book.
My daughter did just that, happily so for the entire stay. Our dog, relegated to sitting outside the door, enjoyed being petted and cooed at by all the passersby. One enchanted stranger brought him a bowl of water and Alfie made the most out of all the attention.
Keller seemed to have forgotten how cool Heroes is, and was amazed at ALL the books there, just waiting for him to pick up and read. He immediately grabbed some comics for his friend, threw them on the counter and then went hunting for something else to read. Within minutes, he found a series of Indiana Jones books and got so excited, he didn't make it to a chair or bench. He just plunked himself down on the floor in the middle of the aisle, right in front of the Indiana Jones section. He was completely oblivious to the other patrons who had to jump, side step or step over him. No apologies either...
But Heroes is the kind of place where they aren't needed. Everyone there gets it. Seriously. Neither the Barry or Dick character cared that my son was completely blocking traffic. What's more, neither one of them were at all disdainful (out loud, anyway) of Keller's comic choice. I'm guessing it was a good one because before I knew it, some guy my age wanted to know what Keller was reading, what his favorite Indie movie was, what he thought the best part of the movie was, and why. And this guy wasn't being polite! He was WAAAAAY excited that he and Keller both agreed that the third one was the best. (I cannot for the life of me, remember the title right now)
His enthusiasm caught me off guard. At first I thought "Is this some weirdo who likes little kids?", quickly followed by "Is he trying to pick me up in some round about way?", ending with "He has found a kindred spirit!" Naturally, I was intrigued.
I watched as this guy made his way around the store, talking to every single patron about something, and eventually winding his way to the cash register where he, Dick and Barry swapped "top five underrated story lines" etc etc for the next 40 minutes. I couldn't believe it! It was the comic book version of High Fidelity, only with less snotty, more friendly staff.
After nearly an hour, it was time to go. I rounded up the kids and headed over to the cash register. Mr. Enthusiastic, who was still there, told me and my kids that I was an awesome mom for hanging out, and that they had better be good to me on Mother's Day. Again, not quite sure if it was a nerdy attempt at flirting, or pure enthusiasm. Either way it was funny.
What struck me as I walked out the door and looked back? Besides my own, there wasn't one single kid in the shop. Just guys, grown men, swapping knowledge, stories and ideas, name-dropping insider-type writers and collectors, and arguing the merits of their favorite comics. It was a great way to revisit High Fidelity, Heroes style.