Dreams in VHS

I know some people think that video store clerks are losers, that they’re kids, or punks, with basically no lives or friends, and that they walk through life dressed in clothes that push whatever movie is being pushed at the time and speak in movie quotes.

Fine, right now, I’m wearing a black T-shirt and a baseball cap with “The Heat Is On!” printed on them because we’re pushing Beverly Hills Cop.

The slogan’s particularly funny right now because it’s minus-25 outside. How cold is minus-25? It’s so cold that when you stand at the bus stop and don’t blink for a while, you don’t seem to be able to shut your eyes anymore. It’s so cold that when you inhale through your nose, your nostrils seem to get glued shut.

Both things happened to me when I walked from the bus station to work to our store just a few blocks away.

I’m not a loser, though. Nor am I a punk. I’m proud to have this job, because most of my friends don’t work during the school year, and I couldn’t have imagined a better job than this. I get to watch movies all day long, and even if the days are sometimes very long, time flies over here.

I’ve had this job for almost a year, first part-time last spring, then full-time in the summer and now back to working on Saturdays. The other day, I tried to count the number of movies I’ve seen at work, and ended up with 101. That’s mostly an estimate, though, I haven’t kept a journal or written down the movies. I should’ve. That could have been worth something.

I’ve seen the best of movies and I’ve seen the worst of movies. I’ve seen Dirty Harry and Dirty Harriet – which is not a porn movie, for the record, just a bad B movie – and everything in between, from Trading Places to Flashdance, and every single Chuck Norris movie. I am proud to say that I have even become something of an authority on movies at school.

Which also makes me even less of a loser. Instead of being just a movie store clerk, I’m a cinephile.

Sometimes, though, I do speak in movie quotes but I find that people mostly enjoy that. They seem to think I’m clever because I can drop a line from a movie just like that, even if the few European art house movie lines that I know seem to fall on deaf ears.

It’s not that I live in a fantasy world, though, although when I’m by myself, I do narrate my own life, as if it were a movie, Sometimes I talk to Indiana Jones in the Raiders of the Lost Ark poster on my wall.

It helps me make sense of things.

But I guess everybody does that. Maybe not narrate their lives but I believe we all see ourselves cast in a movie. I see that every day at work when people I know from somewhere else walk in to the store and since they’re so different when they come to the store, the rest must be an act.

Our store doesn’t carry X-rated movies so there haven’t been any awkward moments like that, but sometimes it’s strange to see my friends’ parents or our teachers in the store because suddenly the tables have turned and they seek my help. I’m the expert. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t like that, though.

The best days are, though, when Kris comes in to chat.

That’s short for Kristin.

She’s my best friend these days and I can talk to her about anything, just like I used to be able to talk to Tina, my sister, before she hit puberty. We don’t spend a lot of time together. Yeah, yeah, we love each other, but most days and nights, she’s hanging out with her skater friends.

My Kris is the opposite of my sister. She’s an artist, a great painter, which I find just mind-blowing, because I can’t draw anything.

Oh, when I wrote “my Kris”,  I just meant it to distinguish her from the others, not that she was literally mine, or a “girlfriend.” She’s not my girlfriend, we’re not dating or anything like that.

Would I want to?

Am I in looooove, you mean?

Well, let’s see. I do look forward to seeing her at school, and every day at some point, we sit in the school library and chat. Just the two of us. Sometimes we eat lunch together at the cafeteria. Every time I hear the bell ring above the door at the video store, I hope it’s her, and when it is, I forget other customers as I show her the new titles we’ve got in.

I ride my bike past her apartment building on my way to and from school, and if she happens to be outside, I stop to talk. Earlier this year, I gave her a birthday present (a Pretty in Pink T-shirt I got from the video store) and she said she loved it.

So yes, I may have a crush on her, but I don’t want to push too hard. Maybe she simply likes me as a friend, and if I try to turn it into something more, she’ll just walk away and disappear from my life.

What is she says no? I don’t think I could take that kind of rejection.

If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.

I think it is meant to be but it’s best not to rock the boat.

Easy does it.

How does that make you feel?