When It’s Time For “The End”

12 Jul

image

I have a friend, who has been a part of my family for a little over twelve years now. 

…When I first met him, he was a single dude, working in Corporate hell, doing theatre on the side.  Now, he’s married (to one of the awesomest of humans), is Managing Artistic Director of one of our most popular local theatres, and is a proud father of two sons…and a comic book shop. I count it as a privilege to have been there to see the birthing and growing of all these changes in his life, not least of which because he was always, always there to help me usher in mine as well (no matter how totally different they were to his.) 

…And I supposed that is what “family” is about, really. They are the people you support and share these things with…in all life’s infinite alterations.  But as we get older, “time” begins to play in the equation a bit, and it isn’t only the “births” of things you are then present for…but the endings as well.

He’s been there for mine.  I’ve been there for his.  Loss of Parents.  Loss of Grandparents. Loss of sanity. 

…I was there, the first day he quit the Corporate safe-house, and I was there the day he opened his shop.  I was there when he expanded to a new location, and there when he blew the roof off his third.  And because the economy is rough, banks are “Boss,” and people are only (in the end) “human”… today, I was there at 9PM, as the final sell…from his shop.

The receipt said customer number 49,516.

Now think about that a moment, if you will.

I did.

…Hanging out with him behind the register after work today, I couldn’t help but think about it.  Never-ending lines of people, many with their own personal stories to tell about why THIS shop, was THEIR shop…and just what it had meant to them.  An entire new generation of comic readers and gamers and artists were teethed in those walls. A whole collection of fan boys (and girls) began their lifelong thrill of geekdom in the shadow of it’s trademark seal. Careers were launched in it, signings were given in it.  Friends were made in it.  Week, after month, after year. 

…He staffed it with knowing enthusiasts of all things film, art, language, humor, escapist and deviousness. He catered to any group or any club which needed a home to practice their art, their play, their  passions in.  He never let you leave empty-handed, even stocking selves of free-bees, just to get you to give this special world “a chance.”  And he was a walking dictionary of knowledge stacked, shelved and inventoried within it’s walls…because he was just like you: a fan, of some of the coolest outlets of imagination ever invented. 

He cared about his Shop friends and family…and not just as numbers on a sale’s sheet.  Perhaps if he hadn’t so much, he wouldn’t have been in the position he was today. Constant sales and discounts…I helped him clean and collect three cabinets-full of painstakingly archived subscriber files, several to half a year or more in money never collected, for special orders it would certainly have helped not to eat the cost of, which were never sold, but were waiting patiently for the day that their buyers would come and claim them.

…On the other side, however…many an “old faithful” shuffled through the line, looking a little like lost souls with no body now to host them.

…There were College students, reminding him of the first comics they’d ever read as kids, which he had personally put into their hands, starting their imaginations in an entirely new sphere of wonderment. 

…There were gamers whose leagues had been hosted at his tables  for a decade, dropping in to give handshakes and hugs. 

…One longtime customer, (who’d been to the register and purchased several stacks of goods, several times across the evening), watched as even the walls were stripped of their posters, artwork and memorabilia. He got back in line again for the fourth time, and bought his favorite framed piece…one linking back to the original shop location…and after paying for it, gave it back to my bud saying, “Keep this one safe,” before giving a final hug and walking to the door.

… Forty-nine thousand, five-hundred and sixteen.

Forty-nine thousand, five-hundred and sixteen sales, stories, games, posters, movies, autographs, art and comic books.  In ten years.

…And though, I know, that closing the doors today was like many of the other deaths me and my friend have seen each other through across these dozen years…he should know that doing so in no way means he is a failure.

A life is lived to the extent that it is supposed to.  When it has achieved all it was meant to, it ends. The end of a lifetime isn’t failure…can you look at anything or anyone you have ever loved that is no longer here today and say it is?  They may be gone in body…but not in spirit.  Not in memory.  Not in the good that it has brought into life and shared with others.  Not in the friends it has made, the stories it has shared.  Not in the handshakes, hugs and tears of the people left behind when “it” is here, no more.

Forty-nine thousand, five-hundred and sixteen separate stories, in the life of one store.  And this one, is it’s last. 

…It was also one of it’s firsts.

I thought I should write it down for “posterity.”

Dear Bud,

…Remember that day you said, “I’m quitting Corporate and I’m gonna open a Comic Book Shop.”

…And I said, “Oh.  How come?”

…And you said, “Because. I don’t like what I’m doing, you only have one life to live…and since I was a kid, I always thought owning a Comic Book Shop would be awesome.”

…And I said (not knowing anything at all about Comic books, or shops), “Why?”

…And you said, “Because they make me happy. They are some of my favorite memories from when I was a kid. And cuz through the years, they’ve tended to get a little seedy with a bad rep.  I don’t like that.  I want to make a place that’s  bright and inviting and friendly…where whole families can come, no matter the ages, where people can spend time with their friends, and meet new ones. It’s like theatre, you know: where everyone is welcome, no matter what they are into or how ‘different’ they sometimes feel.”

Mission accomplished.

Rest In Peace, Comic Book Ink.

…We will remember you.

~D

Advertisements

9 Responses to “When It’s Time For “The End””

  1. Puff July 12, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    It amazes me Cuz how you view the world. I need more of that in my life. Your friends and family up there are special people.

  2. classicmoviewatcher July 12, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    I’ve bought perspective via lots of shrink-time. I try to use it when I can…it didn’t come cheap.
    …And yes, my people do rock 🙂

  3. Chery Phillips July 12, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Beautifully written. Exactly what should have been said as tribute to this special place and the man behind the dream.

  4. Timothy Sill July 12, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    A well written article. Even though I was a long time customer, I was still treated like family. No shop will ever replace Comic Book Ink and every shop will forever be compared to it every time I walk into one.

  5. derek S July 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    I completely agree with you. I felt so babd that on the last days; I could not make because I was in school away from here. When there was trouble before; and I was half a world away; my very pregneant wife went out of her way to get me a special superman statue and then when i came home soon after that i did the same for a friend that was also away. to help the store stay open. When you have a local business that you care that much for; that is a business worth saving. I will miss the store and the employees there. I wish everyone the best and will remember all the good times I had with them in both locations.

  6. Steve Short July 12, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    John,
    You kept it going for as long as you could and you will always be a sucess in our eyes!

    • derek S July 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      AMEN

  7. heffe October 7, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Wonderful story, I never got there as often as i would have liked.
    And when my 7 year old little girl decided she like comics,I thought to take her here.
    But i noticed it had closed. A sad day indeed.
    But the memories will live on i’m sure. I know i still remember the old store i used to haunt 20 years ago like it was yesterday.

Talk To Me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: