There is a secondhand bookstore I visit on occasion. It is big and has an old times feeling to it that I find quite comforting. This bookstore is housed in an old building with different rooms you can go through to browse along the many bookshelves. One of the larger areas has a media section and in it you can find used cassette tapes, CD’s, movies, and vinyl records. The record cabinet sits in the middle, wide and somewhat intrusive. Off to one side there are a couple of chairs. I was sitting on one that was right next to a bookshelf full of reference and nature materials; one of them caught my attention because of its catchy title.
As I looked at the book and wondered why the author had given it such a philosophical name, two young men and a girl – looking no older than early twenties – walked into the area in loud conversation followed by who was probably the mother of at least one of them. The three youngsters gravitated towards the cabinet in curious amazement, and began shuffling through the sleeping rows of plastic and soft cardboard sleeves. I had just been going through the collection myself before they arrived; although I would not call myself a music expert in all genres, I was not at all impressed with what I had encountered and abandoned the cabinet somewhat cynically after looking through it. This was clearly not a carefully curated collection like the ones found at the vinyl shops I have seen emerging lately.
One of the young men – blond and the most outspoken of the three – was talking about how he loved vinyl and old music. He came across a Bill Cosby comedy album and pulled it out. The other two meanwhile browsed around through different sections while the older woman lurked close by with a look that reflected a combination of condescension and boredom. She seemed somewhat amused by how excited these kids were with the records, whereas to her they were probably nothing more than abandoned relics collected from some old person’s home after they had passed, discards from who-knows-where, or maybe even leftovers from an estate sale.
“This record is probably worth a lot of money now” states Blond Guy with the record still in his hands and a knowing look on his face.
“I doubt it!” replied the older woman with a smirk. “It’s actually probably worth nothing now.”
They continue looking and Blond Guy now declares that the albums should be arranged by genre instead of alphabetical order. My immediate thought is that if that were to be the case, then those genres could only consist of Classical, Polka, Neil Diamond (there were just so many of his records in there), and a fourth which could be named Miscellaneous to cover the few other records that would not fit into the aforementioned categories.
The girl says she is looking for records from the 30’s, 40’s, and 70’s. She then confesses she does not even own a record player. “Maybe someday…”.
“Wow! They have Doris Day!” exclaims Blond Guy.
“She was so bad! Like, how did she ever become famous?” retorts Older Woman, seeming to know better.
“I like her,” answers Blond Guy, embarrassed.
“Who’s ready for food?” asks the other guy, who had said nothing during this whole exchange.
And with that, the group walks out, empty handed. I sit there, looking at the now vacant room, then drift back again to my thoughts on the title The Catfish as Metaphor.