I had an interesting exchange at the used bookstore.
Let me give you a sense of the place. It's the only remaining used bookstore in town, and it's not much of one. It's all pink and gold foil, row after row of romances. Back in the back is the sort of science fiction section you get when you sell and trade SF, but the whole store in every way communicates an utter indifference to the stuff: heavy on the crumbling, water-stained Golden Age paperbacks, every shelf entirely male and white except the occasional "dragons and flying horses for girls" title. There's a large but repetitive horror section (two solid bookcase of black spines) and a sadly neglected "classics" section in which Dunnett is right next to Dickens on an otherwise empty shelf.
So in other words, this bookstore deals in a commodity, not in ideas. It's not an island of imagination and curiosity, any more than the furniture store next door is.
Still, I'm so constituted that I must go to used bookstores, must, even if I repeatedly violate the laws of human nature by coming out emptyhanded.
As I set my trade-ins on the front desk this time, there was a sixty-ish customer talking to the clerk. The customer was saying, "And my family is military, too, but that's exactly why it makes me so angry --"
She saw me and dropped her voice, but I was close enough to hear her go on: "... when every day I turn on the TV and more soldiers are dying over there because of that -- that idiot!"
I laughed out loud, and both the women suddenly, visibly relaxed. The customer said, "You too?" And I said, Oh, yes, absolutely me too, and we all had a nice little anti-Bush bonding moment.
But I still couldn't forget that hush when I came in, the way they assumed I'd be against them.
George Bush won re-election by the narrowest of margins. I hate the way we in the reality-based community all go around acting as though we're vastly outnumbered, rather than merely outshouted.