Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Jedi Mind Trick

Tonight I go to the bookstore to pick up Cathy Day's book, The Circus in Winter. I'm not sure what to do about funding, but I'm considering University of Pittsburgh's admission to their fiction workshop this fall.

A little fat man in an apron with a long white beard approaches me. "Speak and I will answer thee," he says.

I'm not even sure if he's an employee until I see his black and white lanyard around his neck that says WIZARD. I tell him that I'm looking for a Cathy Day book. I tell him I'm looking for a Chuck Kinder book, too. He corrects my pronunciation and simultaneously schools me on the origins of German namesake heritages. "Okay," I say. "Kinder." (Keen-der) I sound like I have a Scottish and Canadian accent mix, but I roll with it. I repeat Kinder's name four times. Kinder? No, Kinder. Kinder? I get the impression this man (read: lawn troll) will not help me unless I pronounce Kinder's name correctly.

He stands behind the screen of his PC relic. "Ahh yes! The Honeymooners! As in ritual of wedded beings," he beams. He is waving his hand in front of me, clogged with tarnished silver rings featuring snakes and witchcraft symbols on them. He sticks his ring finger out. His chubby fingers can hardly pry themselves apart from each other, like they would need to take yoga lessons to regain flexibility. His ring finger has a silver ring with a sculpture of a bat, but I can't be sure. "C'mon," he tells me, "I'm a psychic Wicca. Let's take a little hike."

I don't know what that means, but it's a Monday night and I've got nothing on the books. I follow him, and he turns around to say, "Don't get creeped out. I'm a Wicca. We're the good guys."

"You're just taking me to get a book, right?" I ask, looking around for other employees. There are none.

"Oh, yes," he stops, stares at the bookshelf, closes his eyes and points his finger in a slow circular motion. I live in San Francisco and have seen everything, but this is serious entertainment. He finds the book as if by magic. "I sensed its vibration," he tells me. We found Cathy Day's book first. "Ahh, The Circus in Winter. Does this look familiar?" he asks.

Of course, it doesn't, as I am not a psychic and have not yet read it. "The Circus in Winter?" I grab the book. "I actually don't know about it. Do you?" I'm being polite, but I realize later that since he belongs in the circus in winter, it might come off like I'm a smartass.

"Well, thanks," I say. And then just because I'm curious, "Is your name really Wizard?"

"Oh, yes!" he says, adjusting his smudged glasses. "I'm a Jedi Knight of the Wiccas. We're the good guys. Don't get creeped out."

I'm not creeped out, just intrigued. He is the smallest full grown Jedi I can imagine.

"You know what a Jedi Knight is, don't you," he asks.

"Of course," I say, "Sort of. Actually, I don't have a clue." There's no fooling a psychic.

A grumpy lady clad in Laura Ashley passes us--his manager--and he says something to her about it being a nice night. She smiles at him, half centered and shy, and I feel like I just saw something take place I wasn't supposed to. Now I feel creeped out.

"Yes, well, you see that door shield armour?" he asks.

"You mean the alarm?" I ask.

He nods, and glances sideways. I can tell that he's multi-tasking the explanation of the Jedi Knight with his Wizard Charmery on the Manager. "The Jedi Knight always has one of those to fight evil, and if you are a Wicca, then you stand for all that is good," he says.

I'm still a little unclear about if he believes he has an invisible bookstore alarm with him at all times, and who exactly he considers evil, but I decide to just buy the book. When he rings me up, he says, "Don't worry. I can't get fired. On the basis we are discussing my religion."

That thought never crossed my mind. I grab my book and reach out my hand. "It was nice to meet you, Wizard. I don't know anyone in the Jedi Knight industry."

He smiles and I exit through alarms I will never look at quite the same again. In the fall, if I go to Pittsburgh, I sincerely hope I pronounce Professor Kinder's name correctly. I'd come off like a freak on my first day if I tried to explain that a Wizard told me to pronounce it wrong.


Adam said...

Wow! I'm soooo totally jealous. I've never met a real Jedi Knight. Or Wizard. Or Wicca.

Dig the new look by the way. I thought I'd typed in the Web address wrong when the page first popped up.

jaynel said...

Right. So, America: Stop paying for fancy cable shows like "Heroes." San Francisco is a national treasure for your friendly, neighbor-next-door variety of superfreak.