Admittedly I am not a gamer, and I haven’t stood in line for anything since maybe wanting to score Janet Jackson or Prince concert tickets in the early Oughts. Therefore, I kinda understand standing in line for a game release. You want to be the first to own it, the first to play it and have all of the geeky bragging rights associated with berating it with a sniff of derision when *something* looked better in the demo.
(Frankly, and this is my age and technological savvy showing, there isn’t anything I particularly want badly enough to stand in line for it. I’m still young, I’ll wait for the download.)
I’ve been in lines and I’ve been the people staring at the people in lines. Each side believes the other is a complete moron for various reasons, and the unspoken pity hangs in the air like stale cigarette smoke outside Louisiana bar during the monsoon season.
I bring this up because back in November I found myself taking my life into my own hands and passing by one of those lines. Call of Duty was about to be released, and the gamers were braving the elements and squinting in the fresh OUTSIDE air. I worried for them. As I passed them by at the Best Buy and Game Stops, I flashed back to when one of Halos came out (I don’t keep up, whatever one came out in 2008 maybe). It reminded me there are perils to standing in line, regardless of who you are.
Therefore, in a effort to clear out my draft post folder, a tangential story about lines and want.
I loved working at Lush Somerset. I’m not much of a sales person, but I can make you want something. Wanna smell like edible sex – I can make that happen. I’ll show you what you need, how to put it together, and how to act like it’s a complete accident when everyone’s clothes fall off. What can I say, it’s a gift.
The store at Somerset Collections North is placed next to a Game Stop. Logically, this kinda makes sense as guys can drop their women off to fondle and peruse the sweet/spicy bath and body concoctions while they fondle new and used games next door. When it’s all over couples reunite, giggling over their purchases, and skip off to the food court.
I was working one of those release nights when the faithful line up for a midnight debut and watched the line grow from a few people at 6pm to twenty or thirty by closing at 9pm. This may not seem like a lot of people, but when your store overlooks the courtyard three floors down, any number of people potentially blocking exits in the event of an emergency seems like an over-excited mob. Now, you can’t mistake the scent of Lush for anything else. It changes with the seasons, as Spring and Summer bring floral outdoorsy scents and fall and winter bring whiffs of warm spice. It’s not the heavy, nose hair searing smell of artificial, manufactured perfumes (Bath and Body Works, I’m looking at you), but it is strong and likely as not the underlying scent in the store is Vanilla.
In fact, we may have been debuting Vanilla Fountain at the time.
Anyway, Co-worker R and I watched the line grow and all manner of gamers stood in desperate anticipation of Midnight as we restocked and straightened for closing. We didn’t mock (much) because we’re geeks at heart, and we recalled the games we played when were were younger, but it was jarring to see them all crammed into one space like that. Some had bags of fast food, or power bars. All had bottles of Mountain Dew. It was like the event was catered, probably through an online, call ahead service.
We’d had a busy day and we probably did well, as I remember being covered in demoed product and probably glitter. There is glitter all over that damn store. I don’t remember why we exited out the front, since slipping out the back was the norm, but perhaps it was around Holiday Time and the back room was jammed full with gifts and product. Regardless, out the front door we stepped – into the horde of grown children who hadn’t had a decent meal in hours.
R and I step out into the mall. The mall is lit for closing and the storefronts each haloed in their own spotlight. We are covered in glitter and we smell like cocoa butter, chocolate and vanilla. We’re dressed in black pants and low scoop shirts with aprons, and everyone knows that bow at the back suggests unwrapping presents. Seriously – guys like things they can unwrap. I watched R’s back and she bent down to lock the doors. On the faces before us pass warring emotions of hunger, lust and fear.
OMG Girls – DO NOT TOUCH!
We were beautiful deadly BOSS LEVEL fairies with promises of pleasure and death.
We smell cake…
But the cake is a lie…
But we’re so hungry…
The line stretched past our storefront, past the up escalators and ended somewhere near the Claire’s. They stood, sat cross-legged on the floor, sprawled in weird clumps. We had to cut a hole in the line to pass through to the parking lot and as they shied away and fell back to positions of safety, their noses drew their necks out to sniff and sigh, wistful terror on their faces.
I wish I was exaggerating. Seriously, it was as surreal an experience as I’ve ever had and ranks right up there with meeting Gil Girard. I’m not gonna lie to you Marge – I felt kinda powerful, and no shopgirl should ever feel that kind of power. I mean, I was just heading home to take a bath, not fell Mother Russia. We moved carefully as to not startle the skittish horde – no sudden moves please – picking our way through the crowd and out into the night air. It was also dead quiet, whether reverence or that quick mental sketchwork people do to memorialize a moment forever just in case it never happens again. We hurried out to our cars sneaking quick glances behind us, but in retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have worried. What were they going to do, follow us?
There’s going to come a time where I’m not going to have that kind of pull naked, much, much less dressed in black with an apron. So, bless you gaming geeks. Whenever I need an extra boost to the confidence reservoir, I call up that memory and inhale deep.