Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm A Bookstore Criminal: Wanna make something of it?

So there I was.
Flouncing in the local huge chainstore-who-shall-remain-nameless-lest-I-get-sued Bookstore that had a MILLION books in it, needing a cool place to hang, a cup of mocha caffeine and a story. They pop up everywhere I go.

"What's the camera for, ma'am?"

The smark-aleck snarky side of my brain wanted to say. "Taking pictures.....(as in DUUUH!)" but judging from the look on his too-cute-for-his-own-good-face, I refrained and said,

"Taking pictures."
(You saw that coming didn't you.)

"What are the pictures for?
And then I thought. How. Dare. You. Ask.
Really. Are you the Camera Police? The Nazi Camera Absconder? My mother?
You don't want me taking pictures in your store, fine. Just ask me to stop - once - politely - and I'll stop and I'll do it politely - but don't ask me about my personal camera around my personal neck on my personal body about my personal intentions and really you need to get out of my personal space.

Is it illegal to take pictures in this bookstore? I asked. I looked around for a sign.
We've had to ask people to leave with their cameras before.
But is it illlllleeeeegal to take pictures in this bookstore?
"It's a copyright issue."

"I see....Why?"

"We've had to ask people to leave with their cameras before."

Oh, I intended to leave. I intended to stop taking pictures, but he was gonna give me one dandy of a good reason.
We're not talking espionage here people, I wore it like a jewelry piece. At the ready. I'd just come from the Carnival in town (another story for another day) and still dangled the apparatus around my neck. It needed batteries. I needed a drink of something cool and yummy to escape the parking lot Carnival heat.

"I take my camera everywhere. It's not personal. I write stories. And take pictures."
His eyebrows raised with suspicion and an A-ha! I knew it! expression.
"Sttooorrriess?? So it IS for a story."

Now my mind is spinning. And I am perturbed. I had to assume he thought I was from the newspaper and I suppose I could have, maybe even should have, pretended I was, but that would have led through a string of lie after lie after lie so I passed. For a minute I thought he was going to call the mall police. But that really wasn't even my concern. I felt that MY privacy had been invaded and I was mad at myself for not being the smart-ass I wanted to be while he politely interrogated me standing by the Sexuality/Relationship shelf.

Glad you asked.

That's how I got in this mess.
The Sexuality shelf was EMPTY of all but six books. The Relationship shelf, next to it, was brimming full of topics such as How To Keep The Man You Love, How To Love The Man You Keep, How To Salvage Your Stinking Sinking Marriage and Men Don't Really Think With Their Zippers: Fairytales and Other Fantasies. (I just made that up) It was fascinating! No no no......not the heartbreak books, the empty shelf you see. Clearly, it was a Freudian slip of epic Bookstore proportions. Did I tell you I have a keen reporter's eye? I knew I had to tell that story.

So I snapped.
The Empty Shelf (which I can't show you lest I get sued) and the Full Shelf (which I can't show you lest I get sued) Left. Right. Under. Over. Slanted. Angled. Focused. Cropped. Flash. Snap.
Symbols of life. Juxtaposition. A perfect illustration of the story in my mind. I did not want the inside of the book. I was not there to copyright the pages for a research paper. That's what libraries are for. I did not want to photograph pages of a book so that I didn't have to buy it. I just wanted to bring back to you, my bloggy friends, a visual of my day. I am documenting. I am journalling. You know this to be true. The inside of the store. The restaurant. The dressing room. The car. The coffee shop. The trees. And today: The empty shelf. Begging the question......WHERE, oh WHERE, are all the sex books? And why, oh why, are people in this testosterone-forsaken town completely uninterested in relationship saving? Hmmmm?
And that's when he accosted me.

And so he continues.
"What kind of stories?" he asked.

"I. Write. Stories. Personal. Stories. I. Write. I. Take. Pictures. Wherever.
I. Go.
I. Write."
And then I realized that MY picture was being taken. But of course. Just above my pencil head in the ceiling. A security camera. They are everywhere. So let me get this straight. It is OK for YOU to take pictures of ME and every teensy weensy move I make from the moment I get within 500 yards of the door of your store and even probably in the sacred bathroom, but it is not OK for me to take pictures of YOU.

I said, "No problem!" and walked to the back of the store to browse. And everything would have been just fine and dandy if I hadn't made a sharp turn past the Woodworking Crafts to escape the Hello Kitty aisle. And then I saw it.
The book on Castles. A huge coffee table book with beautiful sea strewn palaces from all over the world. I had to look at it. Smell it. Touch it. I saw my freshly manicured hand turn the pages. And bless my socks if my camera didn't accidentally go off while I flipped the page. Oh. Yes. And the flash, too. It was an accident! I swear!
In a flash before I could stop myself it made a flash it did.
I made a dash.

Oh the shame.

Next time I'm wearing my nifty press badge. And sunglasses.
I'm going back.
You had to ask?

Copyright © 2006-2009 Mimi Lenox. All Rights Reserved.


Mike Golch said...

works for me

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

I could testify in court about you and a camera. Funny piece!

Desert Songbird said...

So, that's where you've been getting your material? Illegally gotten photos from books? Shame, Mimi, shame!

*big stupid grin*

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

So, in the end you are a hard-cover criminal

Mimi Lenox said...

Mike - It's a plan. Let's just hope it works.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bud - Let's hope you don't have to.

Mimi Lenox said...

Songbird - I hope I'm having a good hair day when I poster hits the post office wall.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bond - Ha ha ha....

Dawn Drover said...

How To Salvage Your Stinking Sinking Marriage and Men Don't Really Think With Their Zippers: Fairytales and Other Fantasies.

omigod... you cracked me up!

Autumn said...

Wow. My trips to bookstores usually involve looking for specific books, settling on what I find & not buying as many as I'd like. Maybe I just need to make my outings more interesting.

Mimi Lenox said...

Dawn - Well, not all men think with their zippers, but some do. You know it's the truth!

Mimi Lenox said...

Autumn - Or you could just go shopping with me!

katherine. said...

hmmm....I'm gonna try taking my camera into the bookstore this weekend...

Mimi Lenox said...

Katherine - Let me know if you need bail money. Or, we could share a cell.....

P.S. Tell 'em Mimi sent you.

Linda said...

Another royal mess you managed to get yourself in, eh? Next time just tell them that you're a blogger and that seems to explain everything! At least it works for me!

Julie said...

Oh Mimi! This was great! HAH! The camera police! This is too funny! Dont' forget the biggie hat too!

Mimi Lenox said...

Linda - Royal messes are my forte. You should know that by now....

Mimi Lenox said...

Julie - The biggie hat is ready to go. Oh yes. I'm on a mission.

Mark said...

Too funny. Lucky they didn't book you. If they did the judge might have thrown the book at you. Thanks for sharing another page in your life!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Mimi in the slammer??

The Gal Herself said...

Oh, I love this post! You happened to stumble on one of the great temptations I have successfully fought (perhaps until now). Here in Chicago there's a rather popular chain of popcorn shops called Garrett's. (, if you'd like to get to know them better.) Almost every location has a sign posted that FORBIDS photography. Why? Why do they forbid it? And why do they feel the need to post the warning -- are freelance photographers from competing popcorn franchises barging in at all hours? I SOOOOO want to go in there with a camera, but I always forget and promise myself "next time." You just may have emboldened me.

Mojo said...

Mimi, Mimi, Mimi... it's not "thinking with my zipper" it's "thinking on the fly". It's a subtle but important difference darling.

I take my big honkin' Canon DSLR to restaurants all the time. Immediately they assume I'm a critic and don't you know I just become their favorite customer almost instantly. Until they find out I'm not a critic. (I'm a lousy liar.) But then I start taking pictures of the food and it makes them nervous so I still wind up with the fastest service in the place 'cos they want me outta there.

I would really really love to see you in action on one of these assignments sometime. the coefficient of entertainment would be unrivaled by anything you don't have to buy a ticket for. And many things that you do.

Mimi Lenox said...

Gal - That is a great question. WHHHYYYY??? What are they afraid of? Stealing decor ideas? The competition? Don't they know I might give them free advertisement on my blog ...hmmm...? I mean, it might not amount to much for them but still!

Give me a challenge and I'll push it to the limit. I'm just made that way.

I predict that pretty soon there will be signs like that everywhere because so many people are blogging and posting on YOUTube etc etc. I need to research the real legalities of it. Journalists can do with no problem and get away with it as long as they are in a public place - like a crowded street. I am not going to point my camera in someone's face and post it all over the web without their permission. I'm sensitive about that myself. I wouldn't want someone doing that to me.

Interesting, isn't it?

Go for it! Do it!
And then come back and tell us about it.

Mimi Lenox said...

Jean-luc - Please feed Homer while I'm locked up....and send chocolate! (maybe a nail file....)

Mimi Lenox said...

Mojo - I thought thinking on the fly meant thinking fast. Oh no! This means that I've been saying the WRONG thing all this time. I thought it was a compliment. No wonder I got all kinds of weird looks from men.

I am so glad you didn't take offense to my snarkiness. I know you are not "one of those guys"..I am sure of it.

You may come along anytime! We'll make a play date soon.

Mimi Lenox said...

Mark - Throw the book at you ....ha ha ha ha!

Mimi Lenox said...

Mojo - I'm still trying to figure out the subtle but important difference. Hmmm....

Travis Cody said...

Do you double check the bail fund when you go out? You need this little mantra so you're always prepared...pencil skirt, camera, crown, bail fund.

Ferd said...

What, did you have one of your students make up that fake-ass badge? You're still illegal!
If need be, call me and I'll see if I can bail you out of jail!
The judge might have to order a spanking for you!

Mimi Lenox said...

Travis - I have written it down, my dear friend.
Got it!

Mimi Lenox said...

Ferd - I am not illegal!! I am not!

Le Butterfly said...


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