Friday, July 28, 2006

The Tale of the PC Game Shopper

As Friday draws to a close, the collective souls of LA take a much needed sigh. Even the smog heads indoors to chill, hiding in the city's plethora of dive bar smoking rooms. While the smog retreats, a dull glow begins to take its place, spreading with each reborn streetlamp. In the Marina, close to where I live, this glow begins to infinitely loop between dark water and steel-glass apartment towers. Somewhere amidst this stream of light, like a submerged and forgotten pebble, rests a tiny store. But this is not just any store, this store is a purveyor of light and magic.

It is a store of curios and oddities, of fantasy worlds and fantastic beings. Although there is no ancient storekeep tending the register, no bell that rings when you walk through the door nor even a dark cat perched on a shelf, the magic and legacy of bygone shops is alive here. As you enter, a cacophony of sounds and images beckon you, enticing you to step up to bright kiosks. If you succumb, you are immediately whisked away to far away lands and dangerous places. This is indeed a store of magic but more importantly, it is a magic you can take home.

With wide eyes and a pocket full of cash, I enter the store. I ignore the beckoning kiosks, I avert my eyes from lascivious posters and I walk straight to the center of the store. I'm experienced in this magical stuff so I know exactly what I want. I scanned the shelves, piled to the point of bulging, and began to realize that something is wrong. This is the wrong stuff. Where'd all my stuff go? How could this be?

Repressing my panic, I asked for assistance and was promptly pointed to a corner, one that I must have missed earlier. I glanced over there and quickly realized that this corner didn't look right. It had the distinct look of a place where things were sent to die. As I approached, my instincts were confirmed. There were no displays here. The lights and sounds from the rest of the store don't quite make it into this section. Whereas items on the other shelves bulged from overpacking, the items in this corner leaned against each other... as if for strength.

This was definitely the right place but something terrible had happened. On the top shelf, a handful of items struggled for dignity, trying to represent a more noble time, though it was useless. I could feel my heart breaking. In a place of magic, the magic had left this section.

What had happened? I felt guilty, as if I was living my active life while completely oblivious to the slow death of a family member. Was I really to blame? I'm not sure. Regardless, I forgot what I was looking for. I got lost in the sadness. I left and I'm not sure if I'll ever go back.

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