My alarm was set for 6. So I woke at 3, bloated and excited. I read Twitter until I was filled with rage. Donald Trump has no moral right to intrude upon Record Store Day.
My plan was this. Leave early, grab a bacon and egg Mcmuffin combo, and start a queue at the front door of Southbound. I was too early for McDonald’s. You know you’re excited when you’re too early for McDonald’s. I scrambled around for a coffee outlet, but there was nothing open. I should have known then to turn back. There should be legislation about coffee places only opening at 7.
Because of the scrambling I got to Southbound later than I wanted to, and a queue had formed already. Damn. My anxieties kicked in.
The couple in front of me offered to shift up and let me share their concrete step. I quickly calculated there was no way my girth was fitting in that space. But I was unsure of the etiquette. Should I try anyway? Should I risk embarrassing both me and them? I decided against it, and remained standing.
‘I’ve been lying down all night,’ I said. Which was true, but still lame.
He was a lead-lighter, and a stained glass artist. A one time grave digger. Works in an op shop now and then. He was English so he had bad teeth. He wouldn’t say what he was there to buy. His wife was dressed in black and said she worked in a funeral home. She looked exactly like someone who works (or voluntarily hangs out) at funeral homes. She said she wanted to be a writer. In other words, a writer who doesn’t write, but waits for the moment, for the Lotto win, or the death of a wealthy relative, before she’ll take the plunge and write for a living.
‘It’s all right for you,’ she said. Which was a bit presumptuous.
They asked what I’d written. I said I wrote the autobiography of Trelise Cooper last year. The woman said, ‘Oh yeah, I read it.’ I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was never published. I told them about Jared Noel’s book, and they said, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve read that too.’ But their credibility was shot.
At 8.30 the Southbound people came out and brought us brownies and coffee. I asked for a long black. It was the shortest long black I’ve ever had. The cup was so light it was almost caught by the breeze and blown away.
The guy behind me was a radio guy, a Springsteen fan, and a foul-mouthed hipster. No one said he could swear, or asked him to be crass. It wasn’t that sort of morning. But he did it anyway. He could have dropped his pants and done a dump on the pavement and it would have felt less violating.
‘This is probably the same fucking brownie as last year,’ he said. ‘My favourite scene from Taxi is the one where he eats the brownie and then fucking disappears.’
I’m not averse to the F word, used well, strategically. But I’ve never attached it to the word ‘brownie’. It doesn’t feel right. Fucking. Brownie. Fucking + brownie. Fucking brownie. ‘This is the best fucking brownie I’ve ever eaten.’ I mean, why? What a waste. I turned my shoulder to the hipster and pretended he wasn’t there. That didn’t work. He kept talking, so I smiled. It felt like collusion. I should have told him to fuck off. Him and his brownie.
At 9 the doors opened and we filed in. One old dude in bicycle gear hovered on the edges of the queue, jumping the line. I would have given him grief but it wasn’t that sort of day. Plus I’m a coward.
It didn’t matter anyway. I was there for one reason, and one reason alone. The National’s live version of Boxer, recorded in Brussels. I went straight to the guy who works there and said, ‘Where’s The National, where’s The National?’
And there it was, up on the wall. In two minutes all the copies were gone.
I walked away happy enough. Mission accomplished. As Trump would say.