April 29, 2005
House smells like varnish fumes and catbox.
I am alone here, in the last blue of the evening, on what is, in a sense, my last night of bachelorhood (yes, I know about gender and whatnot in this, but I despise the word ‘bachelorette;’ it sounds not as robust as its male counterpart.). Somewhere in St. Johns I imagine David Hoenig is having his.
Earlier: I imagine some parts of my evening as a great series of shots for a minimalist film. Or, if not minimalist, slightly gritty. Whatever.
It’s me, at Jantzen Beach, a sad, tawdry shopping center near the end of PDX’s runway. It’s a couple dozen big-box stores kept away from each other by broad swaths of eternally-empty parking lots.
I find that most times I go there (I know, I know, resist) I need to go to more than one store. So sue me, big America. I try to park in the very middle of the shopping center and venture forth in a star-like pattern.
So you have shot one: bleak, grainy telephoto of a jet on final approach to PDX, slanting down over the Circuit City. High-pressure sodium vapor lights spraying wasted light into the blue-black clouds.
Shot two: down onto a geometric plane of perpendicular white stripes, but no cars to fill slots; me, walking, walking. I think of myself as a smooth, even walker, but I doubt that’s true.
Shot three: Long, slow shot. I walk into one door of Pier One* and, about thirty seconds later, out the another, diagonal to the first.
Shot four: More walking and jet noise, then aisles and aisles of crowded crap, empty of people.
You get the idea.
So what was I doing? Another installment of my ten-month-long fruitless, epic search, this time with a twist ending.
I have come to the conclusion that no one at all in the whole world reads. Because I have been desperately seeking bookcases for nearly a year. I confess, I’m a bit on the snooty side. I despise bookcases described as “oak-colored.” What the hell color is oak, anyway? Then I remember that I hate oak even when it’s real.
I own a lot of books; many more than a thousand and I have stopped counting. They need houses. And, like someone who values their dog and won’t put it in a molded plastic dogloo, I need bookcases with at least some swank. Because I care.
I used to buy these very reasonable, solid-wood, dark bookcases from an import store (but not Pier One*). Because these bookcases were so awesome, they stopped making them. I think it’s some sort of conceptual art on the part of the store; I figure they got their existential rocks off by watching customers nearly burst into tears when informed that the best bookcases ever no longer exist.
Of course it’s really because no one reads.
I’ve been to dozens of stores, surfed the entire Internet as I know it, read every day hundreds of used-furniture posts via RSS–not a damned bookcase I can stand. I got to the point of capitulating to having them designed for me, but with all the bling I need for my forthcoming nuptials it seemed unlikely this would happen anytime soon.
But let me say something: I am in awe of Target. The tasteless masses don’t seem to notice that Target has a sense of taste, but maybe if you are sans taste you don’t notice its existence or non-existence.
Anyway. I have a sort of industrialized crush on Michael Graves and am endlessly bowled over by the successful-cutesy design of the products he is in some vague way behind.
And, while their furniture is, let’s face it, of relative crappiness in quality, it looks…acceptable. Call me one new proud owner of a small, cheap, but goddamnit-made-out-of-wood-for-under-a-hundred-books bookcase. Finally, my sad excess books are not lounging around in cardboard bank boxes waiting to be rescued.
You’ll have to exuse me now. I have to go scoop cat shit and throw away a varnish-covered paintbrush I’m too lazy to clean.
* Oh, my god, I hate Pier One.