Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Magical and Mysterious

I’m not sure if you know this, but I am a big fan of mysteries.  By the end of 3rd grade I had read 49 of the 50 Nancy Drew books (incidentally, I never read the last one, The Mystery of the 13th Pearl), after which I graduated to the local suburban library to bust through all the Agatha Christie books my greedy little hands could get on.  I’m ashamed to say my taste in literature hasn’t developed a whole lot further than this.  From where I’m sitting on the couch right now, I can see dozens of classics on the shelves my roommates have brought from home to New York, Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, Don Quixote, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Demons, The Everlasting Man, well-edified and refined friends they turn to when they desire some intellectual stimulation and high-brow conversation.  They virtually spill out of the bookcase demanding attention and praise.  I can also see from the couch my half-shelf of my own classics: The Historian, A Perfect Spy, Dirk Gently’s Hollistic Detective Agency.  This is not to say that I do not enjoy good literature.  In fact, I am a big fan.  But when push comes to shove, when I really want to cheer up or to just let my brain stop for a second and run wild, I will most likely grab a tried and true mystery book.

Luckily enough for me, I can be entertained with mysterious things no matter where I go here.  For instance, it remains one of the deepest mysteries to me why our trash room in our apartment building does not smell like trash.  Every other part in our building has guaranteed smelled like garbage at least once, but the trash room, never.  Our foyer regularly reeks of dog slobber, our elevator of rotten take out, BUT WHY DOESN’T THE TRASH ROOM SMELL LIKE THE PUTRID GARBAGE IN IT?!

A few weeks ago I got a membership at the local video store one block away from here.  This move was prompted mostly by my unfortunate experiences with the bigger video rental chains instigating my distrust of organized video rentals stores, beginning in high school when my sister and I locked the keys in the running car in front of Hollywood Video at 11:30 at night, and stayed there while our car ran out of batteries.  This new place is aptly called Video Café because they have both videos and they also allegedly serve coffee.  They also have the largest collection of Hell’s Kitchen paraphernalia I have seen in the area.  You can buy hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, visors that all have Hell’s Kitchen emblazoned upon them. 

This video store has the largest collection of VHSs I have seen since the 90s.  I have no idea if anyone rents them anymore.  I have never checked any of them out, and I have never seen anyone else check them out.  Whatever time of day you walk in there, some sort of techno or hip hop song is playing as loud as the cheap speakers will go, and it is completely empty.  My roommates and I are convinced that if you actually did ask for coffee, you’d be taken into the back room to be shown the latest delivery of coke they got in that day.

Over the store’s awning there is a marquee-type display that proudly announces the latest movies that might possibly be in stock for the intrepid customer.  Movies that I never once saw lining their shelves.  For instance, one Friday night when my roommates and I felt like watching a movie we could make fun of and that would provide us with a store of ludicrous characters and quotes we could reenact for each other when we got tired of reciting poetry to each other Saturday nights, I went in search of Elegy.  You probably never heard of it.  It has Penelope Cruz in it, and I watched the trailer for it about 3,235 times solely because there was a catchy tune in it for about 15 seconds.  The store owner announced that someone JUST rented that movie seconds before I walked in, and it was out for the following 3 weeks.  I might add that it was a new release, and new release rentals are 2 days.  And the movie is so phenomenally bad that NO ONE would have wanted to watch it in all of New York.  If you’ve seen Autumn in New York with Richard Gere and Winona Rider, you’ve seen this movie.

A member’s account is also appropriately their phone number.  So when I am renting a movie, inevitably the city’s freaks materialize out of no where and I imagine they are there flipping through the dog-eared movie encyclopedia feigning interest only because they want to memorize my phone number.  Have I become too self-involved and paranoid?  I don’t think so.  As I said in the beginning, I just like mysteries.  So the next time I get a phone call at 4 AM on a Wednesday night and I hear a raspy voice saying something like “You’ve got to come to 145 and Amsterdam right now, they’re waiting for you.” I’ll just know it was the guy with the patch over his eye and the missing ear who was standing behind me in line at the Video Café and that I should bring the latest DVD I rented in exchange for…well, I guess I’d have to find out.