Feeling Shelf-ish


Grab a lawn chair, it’s time for another story. File this one under “a cool idea in theory”.

Me and my brother Glen hung out with different groups of friends growing up so we got into different kinds of dumb situations. There weren’t many instances where we got into Brotherly Stupid but the times when it would happen are golden in my memory. The one that I’ll be relating here is the case that always comes to mind above all others.

A few words about my brother before I tear into him from a place of familial love. Glen is a true guru of the music industry. He has this talent for retaining all kinds of musician-related information ranging from discography and band history to life facts and the most obscure bits of trivia while I’m lucky to remember the lyrics to a particular song and just learned in the past few years that Creedence Clearwater Revival wasn’t really from Louisiana.

The most impressive facet of his musical interests then was, of course, his CD collection. He had hundreds of albums from nearly every genre and artist at the time. These albums inhabited various portions of his room, the living room, and various other handy shelves around the house. Ya’ll born with a smart device in your hand will never understand how bless you are when it comes to album storage and don’t even get me started on buying an album just for two songs, but I digress.

At the time we lived in a small neighborhood next to a strip mall. As well as the standard Best Pizza in Jersey joint and family run Chinese restaurant where we were known by name, there was a Borders Books & Music store. At the time of the events in question, Borders was going through a period of major store closure but not their eventual total exit from the marketplace. “Our” Borders was closing and I was in a foul mood over the whole thing. That was a major patch of my personality: when a place I really like shuts down, I would get all mad and take it as a personal assault on my ability to enjoy life.

You all have moments like that, you know you do.

Anyway, Glen saw this very differently. It was an opportunity to both remedy his CD storage issues and make his whole collection even cooler. See, the “Music” side of the store had these long, tiered shelving units like you saw above (Thanks, Getty. Those were an absolute bitch to find.) that would be more than up for the challenge of displaying his musical menagerie. As the store was closing, they were just junking all of the shelves and fixtures so Glen went over and asked if he might be able to take one of those off their hands. Since it was junk anyway they said that was just fine and set one aside for him.

So he comes back to the house to get the family van to bring this shelf back. He asked me if I wanted to go pick it up with him and since our mother would have sent me along anyway I agreed. So we drive over to the strip mall and pull in along the side of the Borders where two guys are bring the shelf out for him. I see the shelf. I turn to my brother. “Glen. That’s not happening.”

For the shelf, you see, was a monster. When he said we were going to pick up a section of shelf, I of course assumed that we’d be looking at a section of shelving. This was no section, this was a full-length shelf, near twice as long as the van we had brought to haul it away in. “It’ll be fine, we’ll just stow the back seats and put in the trunk.”, said Glen. I am Doubting Thomas, here my tongue cluck.

And so did the four of us lift the behemoth and start loading it into the van. Just at the halfway point it hit the front seats and would go no further. It looked like a Saint Bernard had tried to mate with a Pomeranian and sounded like a big man named Ivan had just told all four of us that we were the most pathetic New Meat he’d ever had. Glen asked the employees if they had anything to secure it with, which they did not. “I’ll drive, you stay in the back with the shelf and hold the trunk down.” Inside I was now completely livid over this idea, as “idea” it was to me and not a “plan”, as plans require planning and this clearly hadn’t been taken into consideration on my brother’s part.

It was a very short trip back to our house made much longer by the fact that I was hanging from the open trunk gripping what amounted to a telephone pole and that everyone in the parking lot could see me, making me The Idiot. We pulled up to the house, where mother took one look at the situation and probably regretted having sons. The front door was significantly smaller than the van, of course, and she wanted to know how we planned on getting the long-ass thing in through the front hall, around the stairs, through the living room, around the corner of the tiny hallway that held my brother’s and sister’s rooms, and just exactly where in his room my brother intended to keep it.

He had nothing.

So what happened with this shelf? Glen had me help him put it on the front lawn in front of the garden the family had built, which it dwarfed by a good margin. There it sat, and sat, and sat, slowly collapsing under the elements and never used to hold anything as we became That Family on our street for the duration of its stay. Eventually, our parents had Glen and I move the damn thing down to the curb where it sat, and sat, and sat. The introduction of a case of beer eventually saw the shelf removed by the garbage men, who would go on to have many more annoying adventures with my family, but that’s a tale for another day.

The Moral: ideas are like shelves. If you don’t have the plans, they won’t hold up. That’s the best I’ve got. Cheers.

4 thoughts on “Feeling Shelf-ish

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