Fourth Ring

Awoman called from Playboy. She's doing a "hot shopping" column on our neighborhood for the style page and Pistil might be included. She
asked what kind of books we carried, so I mentioned several titles I thought Playboy readers might be interested in, including The Cunt Coloring Book. I had to repeat the title several times for her. She didn't get it until I spelled "C-U-N-T."

Then she said, "Oh, I don't know if my editor will print that!" —ac

There's a slim young man who likes to come in and look at Nude and Natural magazine. He's been in a couple of times before, always wearing cut-off jeans with the butt cut-out "thong-style" so you can see
his cheeks.

"You don't mind me not having pants on?" he asks tonight, as he always asks. I shrug. He then wants to know if he can browse nude sometime. I tell him I don't think this would be a good idea.—ac

This guy is in here looking for a picture of a DNA spiral. He wants to show it to his tattoo artist. Which is fine, except he seems to think that I will go through the books and find the picture for him. This happens all the time
with the tattoo parlor next door. People wandering in saying, "I need a Chinese symbol that means 'brotherhood' [or whatever]"—instant tattoo design service.

The guy just came to the counter: "You don't have a computer that you could, like, look up DNA?"—ac

Ashort, muscle-bound, mustached, middle-aged man came rushing in.

"I need a picture of a dwarf!" he said, frantic. I inwardly rolled my eyes: another Bozo looking for a tattoo design, I thought. I showed

him Very Special People, with pictures of little people on the cover.

"Too real," he said. "I need a picture of a dwarf with an ax. You know, like Dungeons and Dragons. " At this point my irritation was visible.

"We don't have any Dungeons and Dragons books," I told him, reaching to take the Very Special People book out of his hand.

He picked up on my annoyance and, conciliatorily wouldn't give the book to me, but started to re-shelve it himself. He wanted to know where the Mythology section was and after showing him, I went back to the desk where I was pricing books.

I thought about how I could respond if he approached me for help again:

"Look, you're obviously looking for a tattoo design. You're going to get this design permanently imprinted on your body. This is a bookstore. I can help you find a specific book if you have one in mind. Or I can point you out to a category of books. But I am not going to look for a picture of a dwarf with an ax for you. You have to do that yourself."

He went through Science Fiction and came up with a couple of books to buy.

"I lost my picture of a dwarf with an ax," he said. "I‘m going to get a tattoo and I have to improvise." I nod my head as if this is news to me and take his money.—ac

"May I help you?"

An older woman just came in looking for a self-help book titled, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. We had a copy, and as she was buying it she mentioned she was going into prison next week. I gave her the
address for the Books-to-Prisoners program and she called me a "dear."—ac

Well, there's a creepy guy in here who wants anything on infantilism, which I assured him we didn't have and now he's looking through the parenting section.

"Do you know what infantilism is?" he asked me.

"Yes," I said, hoping he wouldn’t go into an explanation.

"It’s like being gay," he said. "I can't help it. I just like being a big baby." He tilts his 40-ish year-old-head coquettishly, blinking his big round blue eyes. He asks me if I've looked at some Internet site on infantilism.

"If I were interested I would," I said. "But I'm not."

After a while he comes up and buys a Dr. Spock book. As he leaves I see he appears to be wearing diapers under his powder-blue polyester pants.

Awoman said the sound-of-the-lights is driving her crazy. Florescent lights can buzz, but we don’t have any florescent lights.—tor

Yesterday I got four solicitations, not the good kind. These guys come in about once-a-week carrying crap like mini boomboxes, portable alarms, plastic briefcases, calculators; you know, “99-cent store” merchandise. You can spot 'em a mile away: always young males, button-
down shirts, short hair, rosy cheeks, chipper, and do not live on Capitol Hill. Apparently, a truck drops them off with their satchels of plastic shit to hawk and I'm always rude to them because they're persistent little fucks.

Awhite-shirted young man of about eighteen came in selling some brightly colored plastic made-in-China-by-slave-labor gadget. He came in while I was lunching, and I said barely looking up, "No sales."

He ignored me and said, "Oh, am I interrupting?"

"No sales!" I said again more vehemently.

"Oh have you seen these already?" he asked innocently.

"I said 'No sales!' Please leave!" I was quite annoyed.

"Okay, have a nice day."

So when the latest solicitor kid came in today, I explained that I was tired of having salespeople such as himself come into our store to try to sell us junk and I asked whom he worked for and what city he was from: some company in San Diego. Of course he had no address or phone number.

"Good luck," he told me about trying to track them down.

I printed out a "Solicitors, No!" sign and taped it up in our window.—ac

Aman called and asked if we had WhAP! magazine (Women Who Administer Punishment).

"Yes, we do," I told him. He asked what issues we had, so I got the latest two off the shelf and told him.

"Have you seen it?" he asked.

"Yes," I said, holding it in my hand.

"I never knew anything about that before I saw that magazine," he said.

"I really do think women should be dominant. What do you think?"

"I don't know. I suppose it depends on the individual," I said.

"Its hard to meet women who are into it," he said.

"You might try the personals," I suggested.

"That doesn't work very well," he said. "You sound like you'd be understanding."

"Ha. Well, they're here if you want them," I said.

Damn. Got to get myself some stilettos, garters, and fishnets.—ac

Alocal teacher brought her zine making "class" of four kids from University Prep into the store for a field trip: two long-haired boys with braces and two blonde girls in grunge wear. The boys were looking at
everything, with particular interest in zines, Steal this Book by Abbie Hoffman and the Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, which one of them bought. The girls crossed their arms and stood by the door eying the stock with suspicion, one of them claiming, "I'm not looking at that perv stuff!"

Later that afternoon someone called and said she had seen our ad (what ad?) and asked what kind of bookstore we were. So I said we were a used-and-new bookstore, about 80% of our stock was new, with magazines and postcards, and our biggest section was fiction. Then she hung up. A couple minutes later the woman called back and asked if we were a "pornographic" bookstore.

I said we had a Sex/Erotica section and a Gay and Lesbian section, but we weren't a "pornographic" bookstore and was she looking for something in particular? Then she explained that she was calling from University Prep where the zine-making class had come from, and one of the kids told her parents she had been to a "pornographic" bookstore. The parent had complained to the school and the woman who called said they were "covering their bases."—ac

  • Eddie Bauer jacket
  • spanking mag: WhAP!
  • Mumbling under breath:
    "This is fucking great."

    He did buy it though!

  • Ayoung man came in and said to his friend, who was buying a book on the Marquis de Sade, "I have a story about him." He then proceeded to tell him that the Marquis de Sade would have dinner parties at which nude
    waiters held cream in their recta and would, upon being asked, squirt cream from their assholes into the guest's coffee. Occasionally a turd would come out and the Marquis would force the unlucky coffee achiever to drink down the turd.

    He was pretty disappointed when l told him that the Marquis de Sade whipped a few peasant girls, spent most of the rest of his life in prison as a consequence and was a writer of fiction.—tor

    Acouple of young partially-shaved-head girls with nose rings etc. pick up the Radical Women flier for seminars entitled "How to Fight Fascism" and one them says,

    "The way to learn about it is to do it, not to go to a seminar."

    Fighting fascism-"just do it".

    Awoman, sounding very housewifely, called and asked if l've heard of a magazine called "Playthings." She said she found her child with an order form requesting their free catalog. I told her l didn't know of such a
    magazine and asked her if it was a children's magazine.

    "I suspect it's an adult magazine," she whispered. She then asked for the phone number for the fetish wear store, Sin, which l gave her. l could hear her blood pressure rise as she read back the number for the next stop in her shadowing. Maybe she'll pick up an interesting lead.—sc

    Aman, about thirty, showed his friend The Cunt Coloring Book (snicker, snicker). Later he showed his friend the "Our Beautiful Bellies" bookmark with the photo of a very pregnant woman and said he found
    it disgusting. Another lovely, sensitive male, gaining enlightenment through the power of the free press.

    "Ma'am, are there any books on menage a trois?"

    Nice man came in and asked, "ls this the world famous Pistil Bookstore?" l assured him it was. He said he found Pistil by accident the other day while on his way to an AA meeting. He bought a couple of books, put a couple
    on hold, and showed me photos of his Alaskan girlfriend: cheesecake photos taken in a hothouse.

    There is a long-haired man who came in once when Sean and I were here and who was offended by Boy Talk (a local zine addressing the concept of man-boy love.) He yelled, "This is going too far," while making it clear he
    was a Liberal.

    He is in again reading Boy Talk now. He asked if we still carried it and wanted to get their mailing address. I suggested he read it first before sending hate mail and he agreed.—ac

    Acustomer came in with a book list and was pleased to find many of them on our shelves. She said she'd been to Dundee Books, the bookstore that just opened up down the street, run by a couple of guys from Nebraska.
    When she asked if they had a Gay/Lesbian section, she was told, " You might check psychology."

    The customer was annoyed by this.