Friday, June 15, 2012

Dear Borders

Dear Borders:

Passing by the building that is still standing on Liberty in Ann Arbor after you folded, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the old days when you were still open.

Perhaps the reminder would not be so potent, if the empty buildings weren’t everywhere I go – lingering inside Arborland on the Ypsi border with the letters being eventually chiseled away, skulking outside Detroit in Dearborn with its scrapheap billboard.  

If your stores were smaller, of course, they would have already been turned into nail shops or Five Guy Fries or TCF banks by now like the rea…I mean … like the independent bookstores that closed (you knew about those, right?) and I wouldn’t be reminded of you so readily. But because of your zeal, whole city blocks now lay empty. And I find myself pressed, with nose against the glass, staring at the hideous shelving displays that you couldn’t sell at your final furniture clearance -- 75% off still meant prices higher than ArtVan, and I find myself thinking of you.

So cheers to you, Borders ol’ buddy, ol’ pal. Here are  ---- things I miss about you, in no particular order.

1)      I miss browsing your aisles and aisles of books and not buying anything.
2)      I miss browsing your aisles of books to see what I could order cheaper on Amazon.
3)      I miss browsing your aisles to see what I may not be able to order cheaper from Powells Books, but could order and feel better about myself.
4)      Then I miss browsing your aisles and wondering who you might have fired/killed/blacklisted for mentioning the word union.
5)      I miss browsing your books and buying coffee so I could sit there longer ... and browse.
6)      I miss thinking about going to your stores and then deciding to go the library instead.
7)      I miss debating whether or not I could shoplift some skinny poetry books and then deciding to go to the library instead.
8)      I miss walking out on your horrible open mics where you let people bring crappy amps and 4 string guitars.
9)      I miss walking out on your ridiculous author readings by local authors who wrote books like Getting Downright Soggy In Your HydroPonic Herb Garden.
10)  I miss playing Stump-the-Borders-Hipster by asking them about something they probably hadn’t read – like a book.
11)  I miss sitting down in the magazine aisle.
12)  I miss eavesdropping on the SciFi geeks. They were fun.
13)  I miss taking real books by Toni Morrison and Percival Everett out of the African American Literature (read: Porn) and reshelving them.
14)  I miss dog-earing books I really wanted and convincing the Borders Hipsters Made Manager to give it to me for at least 25% off. Rare. But fun to try, anyway.
15)  I miss 40% Border Rewards coupons. That’s when you and I – well, shared.
16)  I miss having you to blame for the fall of an independently literate nation.
17)  I do, though, really. miss your stationary, your internet, your coffee which was pretty good, your air conditioning in the summer, your music listening stations. And
18)  …did I mention the browsing?

I guess all this to say, Old Fat Friend, maybe I resisted your pleasant wall displays and uniform wood paneling too much. I found it so hard to give you any money at all. Oh, but the rush of the Cheap Peruse and Scan. Now, I’m paying the price, right?

Maybe it’s not that your eyes were too big for your spine. Or that you made your millions and got bored. Maybe it’s not that you are too indifferent to the communities you plowed through, (consistently (somehow) moving in across the street from some little bookseller), to try and use some of all that money you made to configure a survivalist strategy. No, Borders, it was me.

All me. All I really wanted you for, was window dressing.

Sorry about that.

Someone Who Spent, Ultimately, A Few Hundred Bucks There Anyway

francine j. harris

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