I ran out of toothpaste yesterday, so I went to Fred Meyer on my way home. On a whim, I stopped by the book section to give it a quick browse. I think deep in my heart I was hoping to find Mr. Impossible there, although my chances were fairly slim—the selection is decent, but not exactly huge. I didn’t see it, but a book with a fire-engine red cover caught my eye. There was nothing on the cover other than the title and the author’s name, and woo boy, what a title it was: The Naked Duke.
If there’s one thing in this world more horrifying than romance novel covers, it’s romance novel titles. I mean, honestly. THE NAKED DUKE? The title was so bad it stopped me cold. I had to pick the book up. I read the back, and it was every bit as atrocious as the title. Hapless young American miss somehow finds herself naked in bed at an inn with an equally bare-assed duke (The Bare-Assed Duke—now THAT’s a great title) and is forced to marry him, or some similar claptrap. I couldn’t help myself. I opened the book and gave it my usual 15-page bookstore trial just to see what horrors were going to be perpetrated within.
And you know what? It actually wasn’t too bad. In fact, I thought it was downright engaging. It was incredibly silly and the plot seems about as stretched thin as spandex on Star Jones’s ass, but something about the writing style was fun and kinda fresh. And hey, it’s one of those $3.99 debut author dealies from Zebra Books, and I thought shit, that’s practically GIVING it away, and really I need to do my part to help those poor, suffering, underpaid romance novel authors. So feeling very, very virtuous, I grabbed the book and turned to go to the cashier.
Only to notice that Mr. Impossible, the book I’ve been whining about for two days straight, was right next to The Naked Duke. I mean, literally next to it. Like RIGHTFUCKINGTHERE for the last 14 minutes, but I hadn’t noticed it.
You know that episode of The Simpsons in which Homer becomes the nuclear plant’s union rep, and Mr. Burns finally caves in to the workers’ demands and Homer is so happy he just flops down on his side and starts pedaling himself in circles and making happy weebling sounds? Yeah, I was THATCLOSE to doing that myself.
I am a freak. I need a life.
But that’s not the end of this saga. When I shop at Fred Meyer, I like to use the self-checkout stations. I have it down to a science, and I usually move really, really fast—often faster than a checkout clerk. Since I only had three items, and since one of those items was called THE NAKED DUKE and I’m one of those people with overnice sensibilities about her romance novel reading habit when the romance novel she’s reading has a completely asinine title, I headed right to the self-checkout station and scanned the puppy right in and put it in the bag.
Only to have that eerily calm female computer voice tell that I must put the last scanned item in the bag. I took the book out briefly and put it back in, hoping that this time the computer would register it. And of course it didn’t, because Eerie Soothing Computer Lady was asking me to put the damn thing in the bag again. Trying to act nonchalant, I hit the big red CANCEL button to void the transaction and start over again. Maybe the duke’s nudity was too much for the computer’s processor to handle and contemplating the state of his throbbing turgidity had caused its software to freeze. Nothing a little resetting couldn’t fix. But too late. The clerk stationed at the self-checkout stands for just such occasionas as these had come over and was asking me what I’d scanned in last.
I looked up, and oh my god he was CUTE. Tall, dark-haired, skinny, about my age, and just the cutest face. I about died. What the hell is a cute boy doing working at Fred Meyer? He should be waiting tables at La Bouchon or the Bombay Cricket Club, dammit, where I can slyly drop my cutlery and ask him to help me pick it up. Anyway, feeling distinctly red-faced, I help up the equally red book which proudly proclaims it features a Duke of Great Nakedness within. And his eyebrows raised juuuust a little, but he didn’t say anything, just nodded, smiled, went back to his station, typed something in and voila—the computer stopped asking me to remove all items from the scanner. A computer error, he explained. I refrained from making any retarded cracks about the duke’s state of nakedness being too much for the female in the computer and opted to just flee the scene with a quick wave and “Thank you!” to Cutie Cashier Guy.
I have no decent way to end this stupid entry. I got home, made quiche, had dinner, then got in bed and started reading Mr. Impossible while my girlcat of much loveliness plopped her 12-lb. bod on top of my sternum, rolled onto her back and proceeded to purr while making biscuits in the air like she just don’t care. And the book is marvellous. I’m only about 40 pages in, and I’m counting the hours until I can get home and read some more. Embarrassment with cute boy and all, yesterday was indeed (as the Manolo might say) the super-fantastic day.