2007-02-06: Self-Help And Mid-Life Crisis


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Summary: A detour is made by Benjamin into an alternative bookstore. Cass helps out with a stranger's 'mid-life crisis'.

Date It Happened: February 6th, 2007

Log Title Self-Help and Mid-Life Crisis

Enlightenment Books

Afternoon light is shining bright through the windows of Enlightenment Books. Outside the wind is blustery and people are hurrying by with big jackets and warm scarves, but inside the bookstore everything is nice and warm. In fact, it's a little too warm. The store is empty, it seems, but there is a loud banging sound coming from behind the information desk. The banging is, indeed, Cass trying to fiddle with the radiator.

Benjamin found himself taking a detour after work into the East Village. It's not his usual stomping ground, but something about the colorful neighborhood called to him. So here he is. He looks far too conservative and out of place amongst the artsy types, but he doesn't really care. As he passes the front windows of Enlightenment Books, he stops and backs up. He looks through the glass a moment before something tells him to go inside. He opens the door and enters, looking around him curiously.

What looked like an empty store suddenly gets a lot of noise when a there's a loud clang and Cass jumps up shaking her hand and yelling, "Son of a! Mother….father!" Jumping up and down, she shakes her hand and then clutches it to her chest, having burned it against the radiator. Mid jump, she realizes that she has a customer and that she's not really making the best first impression. Twirling around so that she's fully facing Benjamin, she shoves her burned hand behind her back, pulls out a smile and greets him warmly, "Hi! Welcome to Enlightenment! Can I help you?"

Benjamin jumps in startlement as Cass leaps up. He blinks momentarily before asking, "Hi.. Ah.. I'm just looking around for the moment." There's a pause as he takes in the proprietress, "Are you okay?" He edges further into the shop, his gaze pulling from Cass to a nearby bookcase.

Not one to let a little thing like scaring the bejeesus out of a customer keep her down, Cass waves her good wand in unconcerned manner. "Please do. If there's something you're looking for but don't see, feel free to ask." Seeing that Benjamin is still looking a little ill at ease, she keeps smiling. "Oh, yeah. I'm fine. Just burned myself on the radiator. I can never get the damn thing to work right. It's either the tropics or the tundra. Never any in betweens."

Benjamin smiles politely at the explanation. "I'm glad I have an apartment that doesn't have a radiator. They can be a pain." He eyes the books by subject and feels more or less lost. The existential and metaphysical is so far from his normal thought process. "I'm not even sure what I am looking for," he says honestly.

"Literally," Cass replies dryly. Another shake and she lets her hidden hand fall back down to her side. "That's a natural response. The subjects are pretty varied and a little…hard to grasp for some." She smiles politely and gestures toward the shelves. "Anything I can interest you in? We've got a lot of exciting books on the year 2012 and all those hypotheses. Or if that's too depressing, we've got ESP and Hypnosis books."

"No hypnosis, I don't need that," Benjamin says, feeling a little nervous about the mere suggestion. No. He doesn't need the hypnosis help. He's fine on his own. "I'm just.. having a lot of weird encounters lately and my life is or was, boring, predictable and /normal/."

Cass tilts her head only slightly to the side and crosses her arms in front of her. She's studying Benjamin a little as if trying to read him. "Weird encounters? I'm not quite sure what you mean. And not many people would want their life to be boring predictable."

Benjamin turns to look over some titles on the bookshelf behind him. "I've helped the same woman twice, just by chance encounter.. and I met another woman who.. nevermind. I tell my therapist all of this, I don't want to bore you with it.. and I don't know why I just told you about my therapist." Tarot, palm reading, runes.. no.. none of that is really giving him pause. He moves on to another section. "I liked the routine," he says in his defense. "It was comforting."

Cass stays where she is behind the counter. She doesn't want to scare Benjamin, as it looks like he's kind of skittish at the moment. "Helped a woman? What do you mean?" Sitting back in the chair positioned there for her, she keeps an eye on her customer. "That's alright. Just about everyone I know's in therapy. People who don't see a psychiatrist worry me." Pointing to a shelf back on the other side of the store, she adds, "You might want to try meditation. That has a lot of routine."

"The first time, completely at random. Her car was broken down on the highway outside the city. Then just recently, I ran into her in the city and she needed some help then. It's just.. odd. In a city this size for me to have run into her twice when she needed assistance," Benjamin says as the story just comes tumbling out. "That's not very comforting. About people who don't see a psychiatrist. I'd like to NOT think I'm crazy.. Meditation huh? I think my daughter will laugh herself sick at me. That's another thing. I have a daughter. I had no idea she existed until last month." He's definitely the type to not mess around. He screams straight-laced. "Although.. I don't think trying meditation could hurt."

To Cass, Benjamin seems like a man hitting his mid-life crisis. She gets all sorts of people who come into the store and a lot of them are talkative, but most of them are also a little crazy. "It's a large city. The saying is you're bound to run into the same people over and over again. Law of numbers or something. And you don't have to be crazy to see a psychiatrist. Sometimes you're just hurting or need someone to talk to that knows nothing about your life." Finally she stands and approaches the meditation shelf and picks up a thin book called 'Meditation for Beginners' and holds it out to him. "It seems like you need a little calmness in your life. There's a lot of things going on around you."

Benjamin immediately looks embarrassed for spilling details unbidden. "Maybe you're right. It just.. it struck me as odd and highly unlikely to have happened." He heads over to the directed shelf and accepts the offered book. "Thanks. I'm sorry for just giving out too much information, but.. can you suggest anything.. huh.." Something caught his attention. Something in his peripheral vision. Book still in hand, he turns towards a shelf with all sorts of theoretical tomes on it. One in particular has him picking it up and turning it over. 'Activating Evolution' by Chandra Suresh.

Cass puts the meditation book down on the counter behind her. "It's alright. A lot of people come here looking for help because they can't find it in the 'normal' world. I'm a little pocket of weirdness here to help any who come in." Seeing which book Benjamin has picked out, she smiles. "That's a good one. Very interesting. My father sent me a copy, trying to make me go back to medical school."

Benjamin opens up the book, thumbing through it. He's now only half listening to Cass before he tears his attention off the pages. "I'll keep this place in mind.. I think I'm going to need all the help I can get. I'll go ahead and take both books. You don't look like the type for medical school.. Sorry, sorry, I didn't mean to imply anything as I don't know you."

Cass grins and heads behind the counter again to ring up his purchases. "Well, my name's Cass and I'm the store owner, so I'll be here if you need help again. And, actually, you're quite right. I'm not the type for medical school. My father just wants me to be a doctor like him." Taking out a carbon copy receipt, she writes down the books and the total at the very bottom. "It'll be $39.57."

Benjamin can't help but smile a little at that, "Thank you Cass.. I'm Benjamin. I'm sure your father will be proud of you no matter what you do." He withdraws his wallet and hands across a credit card. "I'll be really grateful if this book helps."

Cass pulls out a credit card swiper and puts it through on top of the carbon copy receipt. "Nice to meet you, Benjamin. I'm sure he loves me no matter what, but love and pride are two separate things, you know?" Handing over the credit card and the customer receipt, she slips his two books into a bag and holds them out to him with a smile - not just a polite one, but one filled with warmth. "I'll be glad if they do, too. Please stop by again and tell me how they work for you."

"Maybe, I can't say that I've experience such," Benjamin admits as he signs the slip. His own mother is overbearing, but never one to shove a career path down his throat. As for his father? The man's never made an appearance in his life. The credit card is put away and the signed receipt passed back to Cass. "Thank you, I will do that," he says, his smile less guarded than it was when he came in. He takes the bag and heads on for home.

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