Random Thoughts
In a plain brown wrapper, please
There are some purchases I'd rather just keep to myself

As I parked the car I kept telling myself that this was not an odd thing to be doing. I'd been in places like this more than a few times, and in fact I know several people who stop here every single Friday night on the way home from work -- just to see what the new releases are. Usually I wander in with some spare time and a few extra bucks, and see what I can find to hold my interest for an hour or so.

But this time things were different; I was on a mission. As I plowed through the front doors I knew exactly what I was going for. In fact, I knew what I was going to select before I got into my car in the first place, and I was certain the hardest part of my quest would be finding the right section in the store amidst the hundreds of titles. But it wasn't too difficult. There they were, set aside from all the rest, in a corner all their own. [ About Us ]

I walked briskly past an employee, who looked at me sideways as I avoided her gaze. "Sheesh," I thought, "I wonder if everyone can tell exactly what I'm here for." I decided that my determined gait might be giving me away, so I settled into an easy shuffle as I neared the section.

I wandered up, put on my best "Oh! They have these here?!" face and casually began to peruse the backs of the boxes, like an archaeologist dusting off dinosaur bones. I picked one up, but quickly put it down when another customer walked past. "Now why did I do that?" I asked myself. "This is America, the most liberated country in the world! I mean, hey, if I want to spend hard-earned money on this, then that's my business!" But I felt so self-conscious. I didn't care what these people thought of me... but then why did I feel like everyone was staring at me?

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Every time someone looked in my direction, or even close to my direction, I thought, "Oh my god, she knows... and now he knows..." Worse yet was the idea of running into one of my friends, co-workers or (gulp) my family. I know they wouldn't be over here, but I might run into them at the register. The mental strain was almost unbearable, and I seriously considered changing my plans for the evening, grabbing a nice Disney production, and scooting out the door. I managed to settle, quite at random, on one particular box. After all, they're all the same -- why waste my time reading the summaries and credits?

[  bounced back  ] I tucked my selection under my arm and head for the register. I didn't see another soul doing what I was doing, and I started to feel as if I had deviated quite far from the moral norms of our fine society. "I'm the only weirdo in the whole world," I thought.

Luckily, I found a register with no line and was ecstatic to discover that it was staffed by a man. I walked up, blathered out some stupid rationalization ("It's not for me..."), and paid for it. Then I slithered out the door. I think it was about the most humiliating experience of my entire life.

It really wasn't for me, though -- honest. It was for the Packard Bell PC, at work. I had drawn the short straw. And someone had to go buy Windoze Windows '95.

Next time Microsoft releases a major software package, I'm calling in sick.

Craig Constantine

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