The Barnes & Noble Bookstore, in Pittsford Plaza, is a converted department store, on two floors, and the only thing remaining from that department store are the escalators, facing each other, UP to the right, DOWN at the left, which I rode in fear and exaltation, I recall, in that department store which sold clothes and everything else, and smelled of sweet perfume, as a child. So, one can almost, by closing their eyes . . . no, they can’t–this is the future, from which one does not return or travel anywhere, except into the future, which is rising you might say. Therefore it is alarming to me, and all of us, when one of these escalators malfunctions, to use the ugliest word available for a necessarily hurried anecdote. I think more alarming when only one of the escalators is frozen, in this case the DOWN, which is only needed if . . . one has already gone UP. And there you have it. Up like a dreamer, and down like a mortal. Typically I don’t find what I was looking for at this warehouse, so at least I wasn’t loaded down as I arrived at the Down portal, and stood there in awe of the frozen metal stairway, almost keeling over right away, so difficult did it seem to make this adjustment. I mean I look forward to these down rides at Barnes & Noble, which are so timeless and make me feel like I am not even born yet, if you know what I mean–but this! I just looked around to see if there was anyone behind me, and tried walking. Few things are more difficult than walking down a stopped escalator, just nonchalantly, particular for a self-conscious cripple, I mean clown, like me.
So I put on a little act, at least to cover my disability, and then immediately with a sense of performance, as if there were great crowds watching. I went about a third of the way down, and stopped. I froze with one foot slightly in the air, and right hand raised like waving from the deck of a ship. And I stayed that way for as long at it would take. I was quite conspicuous, I am sure–except that nobody happened to look that way, the whole store was ignoring me like people do in dreams who you can’t get to notice you. It was a damn nightmare, for about ten seconds until I decided it was a stupid idea anyway, certainly; and I was worried someone was coming up from behind, and they would not be sympathetic, or amused. So I dropped it, and proceeded on down, unseen and only mildly humiliated.
Five steps later a tremendous sense of a missed opportunity, and a fierce determination, welled up inside of me, and I heroicly tried it again. I mean, if this isn’t funny?– the sight of an unfortunate man who happened to be innocently riding this escalator, when it suddenly stopped functioning. And he got malfunctioned with it! Of course. This was the high comedy I was hoping to perpetuate, on the spot here, in this silly bookstore (that never has what I want). This was the ridiculous untruth I was propelled to enact with my very person, on that unheralded day. This solo performance, executed with grace and free abandon, I fearfully expected and was prepared to endure the notice of . . . by someone! Either that, or I expected to initiate a stopping of the whole store, all its mechanical functions, all its useless inventory, and all the people in it, too. Or an embarrassed laugh, perhaps?
At the very least I saw that here I was creating the material for an anecdote to amuse family and friends, and get the kind of “no, you didn’t!” reaction, that I have come to expect, the majority of the time when I report my fabulous expectations and imaginary adventures. Of course, as a child, riding even this same escalator, and fascinated as to where those metal steps went after they disappeared into the floor, I never expected to be laughed at. But as an adult . . . I got used to it.