Getting up on a Friday 13th is a bit of a wary experience at any time, but that we were going to encounter a class A psychopath was something I never expected. As a disclaimer, I need to point out that I have exaggerated nothing in the following description… he really was that intense.
We had barely been open for 30 minutes when this big burly guy wandered in. Late 20s, shoulder-length wispy frazzled hair with a receding hairline, leather jacket, thin wire glasses. When he greeted us, he had a thick Eastern European accent… possibly Russian. I require you, dear reader, to apply this accent to everything he says, to fully appreciate the experience.
He was quite loud in an overcompensating way, and meandered around the shop. “Have you no cards for Valentine’s Day?”
I dutifully pointed him to the shelf.
“The student shop, they have nothing, just five cards, just all about love!” he complained loudly, half to himself, half to us.
“To be fair, mate, it is the holiday of lovers”, I said.
He looked up at me with a wild expression. “I was online, on internet, and there was, for lovers, for friends, for boss! I researched, I’ll go out on computer, I show you print!! I’ll prove it!” For a second he reminded me a bit of Borat, on a massive aggro trip.
”Nah, that’s alright, mate”, I said. “I believe you.”
“They have them on there, for friendship, for teachers!”
“For teachers?” I repeated, incredulously, with a little laugh. “Slightly inappropriate, perhaps?”
“Why not teacher?” he said. He looked dreamily into the distance and quietly mused to himself: “”My teacher… she is very young…”
“erm… ok”, I said, with a slightly panicky grin.
He handed me a card which he stated was “very nice” (the Borat comparison immediately sprang to mind again). I rang it through the till. He wandered off again, looking at more cards, something that irks me in customers, especially if there is a queue behind them (which there wasn’t in this case, but it was still rude – kind of the equivalent to walking out of a room mid-conversation. It irks me as much as customers drumming their fingers while you ring their stuff through. Makes me want to chop them off!! But I digress.). Get on with the transaction, mate!
“My teacher…”, he said again. I looked at the card. It was covered in little hearts, saying “Gorgeous”, “Sexy”, “Kiss me”, “Hug me”.
“If that’s for a teacher, you might want to reconsider”, I said and read it out to him.
“Fuck me??”, he burst out loudly, repeating a misunderstanding. I shrunk back, creeped out, squealing internally. I glanced at Max, who stood behind me on a computer, trying to look busy and not involved by typing frantically, trying really hard not to laugh.
Psycho Boy picked another card. I voided the first transaction and put that card through, instead.
“I will pay you!” he said gravely and pulled out a little velvet bag (where he must keep his booty, surely). He dug out a few coins and threw them at me in a too-wannabe-nonchalant way. “Yes!” he muttered intensely. “Let’s do this, Christopher!”
I gave him change and a receipt. “Thank you!” he said, gracefully (in his own mind).
Then he leaned on the counter. “Have you got 'Lolita'!”
“Erm, no”, I said. “But I can order it for you.”
“You haven’t got 'Lolita'!”, he said, in exaggerated horror.
“No, but we got a lot of other books.”
He looked around and spotted the 'Grindhouse' book, a ‘Making of’ book of ‘Death Proof’ and ‘Planet Terror’. He went to leaf through it. “Quentin Tarantino!”, he said appreciatively. “One day I’ll be as big as him. A filmmaker.”
I suddenly realised who he tried so hard to be. He seemed like someone who had decided to completely reinvent himself as a tough shit guy from an action movie, and would, from now on, only recite bad movie lines. Maybe this whole psycho act was intentional? Except that it was more of an 80s version of a psycho, but possibly perceived by him as the latest psycho chic, as it just had made it over there to Mother Russia.
“Keep this book for me!” he ordered. Then he turned around and wandered towards the exit. “These books have nothing to say!”, he muttered. “But I, Christopher, I do!”