So Friday the office closed early, which was fantastic because I needed to get an oil change and finish a paper for school; maybe pick up a new graphic novel.
And backstory, I have a real problem of finding myself without headphones when I really need them. I have every iDevice’s earbuds in a headphone drawer at home going back as far as my Gen 1 iPod Shuffle. I even have my original 1989 Gameboy earbuds— the black corded number with blue and red on the separate buds to tell left from right. I could almost certainly start an earbud museum.
And, as I lost my work pair of earbuds last Monday, I had to schlep down King St in Alexandria to find a spot that sold headphones. If this were the 90s that quest would have been simple, there would be a Coconuts, Tower Records, Nobody Beats the Wiz, something…
I almost bought a $60 pair from T-Mobile, but the salespeople ignored me. So I walked a mile to a pharmacy and purchased a cheapish pair of Sony earbuds.
Ok, so backstory over— Friday we get sent home early, and I ran out of the building before anyone could change their mind and left my new Sony earbuds at my workstation. I didn’t realize that until I was back home in Loudoun County at my local Barnes & Nobles bar top with my computer open (so glad B&N is making a comeback btw).
I tried to soldier through my paper without headphones, but either it’s my dyslexia or ADD that requires me to plug into music to concentrate, otherwise my mind can zoom off in another direction.
The guy next to me was drinking wine and tapping so hard it was as if he was expecting all of us to pay attention to his word count. And two guys down from him was a guy wearing old school Koss headphones with the foam afro-ish padding around the speakers, who kept saying “esponja.” I assumed he was learning Spanish.
But I was at Barnes & Nobles who for sure had headphones. Gas stations sell headphones, and they don’t try to sell any Amazon Kindle reader wannabes the way B&N does. So I did a quick pass of the store— nothing. I talked to a rushed looking employee who said, while pointing to a small corner near the bookmarks, “yeah, probably not. Unless it’s in the reading aid section, but headphones aren’t for reading, so it’s probably not there.”
So when I get to the section, I realized it’s not so much a section as it is the Island of Misfit Toys portion of B&N. There are a few displays loaded with bookmarks to slalom around to find yourself at the reading aid display.
A woman was sitting over there who eyed me suspiciously from what looked not quite like a kids table or an adult table; it was stunted between those ages (like I said, Island of Misfit Toys). The table and chairs came up to about mid-thigh on me, and I’m 5’8.
I know why she was suspicious; there was no real reason to be in that part of the store. Who buys bookmarks or face sized handheld magnifying glasses? She had the perfect quiet spot until I came stumbling in looking for headphones.
It occurred to me on my way back to the bar that B&N for sure had headphones in their collection of shit to sell you while you are waiting in line. And they had shit in the form of a “Shit Happens” game out in plain view next to the “Exploding Kittens” card game; I had to be in the right place. Next, I spotted a small zippered case for carrying earbuds; I was getting warmer. A Mickey Mouse head speaker (which would have gone great with my “esponja” neighbor, I thought). No headphones. They had a headphone carrying case and no headphones?!
Finally, I spotted the headphones! I hadn’t seen them at first because the earbuds have food items glued to them. They had Taco earbuds and pizza earbuds. That’s it — no beer earphones which may have fit my personality better. Or at the very least a soccer ball, or unicorn, anything but bright colored tacos or pizza. Something about sticking food, even fake food in a place that develops ear wax turned me off.
I didn’t have much in the way of options or time; I didn’t want to lose my seat at the bar or have my computer stolen. I bought the pizza earbuds. I like tacos better than pizza in the world of gastronomy, but the tacos were twice the size of the pizza.
“Wow, you must really like pizza,” the lady at the registers said as I paid. “I do,” I said.
I open the package and put them in. If I had to wear supreme pizza slices out of my earholes, it would have been nice to have some rich sound to help me forget that’s what I was doing. But no, the right ear played half the volume of the left and the best I can describe the sound is that the recording artist recorded his track by broadcasting it into a room with a microphone to pick all that sound up that was then finally recorded to a cassette tape.
So I pulled one earbud out a little and cranked the volume to equalize the sound.
I must have looked ridiculous, a bald fat-headed guy with glasses working on a mac, listening to an iPod with supreme pizza slices stuck in my ears. Mac and pizza fanboy.
But the paper got done. So thank you, pizza earbuds.