Thursday, November 4, 2010

Adventures in Video Store Land

Back in the mid-1990s, I took seasonal work at the local Musicland store to earn a few extra bucks. They were looking for help in their video department and liked the fact I knew so much about movies. That meant less time spent looking up titles for people. Customers may have remembered the plot, or the stars, but sometimes titles of movies proved elusive.

One day, a young woman came in and asked if we had in stock a movie called “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.” I said I wasn’t familiar with it.

She said, “Yeah, it’s an old movie starring John Wayne.”

Aha! I knew what she meant and was able to find what she was looking for.
I have fond memories of a most jovial chap coming in and asking, “Do you have that movie where Sidney Poitier marries a white girl?” He said it was called “I Think I’m Going Out to Dinner Now.”

I suppressed a smile and told him we did have it but he had the title slightly wrong.

I remember regular Sunday afternoon visits with an older gentleman. He loved the movies and enjoyed talking about them with me. His wife wasn’t a particularly nice person and he would visit with me while she went shopping at the other stores in the mall. I think our visits were like his weekly sanctuary. His shoulders seemed to sag a little when she returned to pick him up.

Like a lot of movie buffs he was a little…odd. Very nice and completely harmless, but there was something just a little off about him.

Once he asked me if we had “Westward the Women” (1951), a really good western directed by William Wellman and starring Robert Taylor. He told me he had been looking for it forever but was never able to find it. I told him he was in luck, we had it. An odd expression crossed his face. I went to our western section, and handed it to him. He gave a half-hearted thanks and walked away. I watched him and saw him duck and then walk very fast out of the store. I went back to the western section and sure enough, there was our one copy of “Westward the Women”, back where it was before. At least he was nice enough to put it back in its proper space.

Later we were visiting and he said to me, “You know what we just saw. ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus.’ Loved it, thought it was just great. There was no violence, no sex, no bad language. It was just a pleasure to sit through.”

I told him I hadn’t seen it yet, but wanted to.

He then says to me, without no trace of irony or sarcasm, “Say I understand ‘Showgirls’ just came out on video. Did you get ‘Showgirls’ in?”’

I kept the straightest poker face in the history of the world and told him that it was priced only to rent, not for sale, but if he waited a few months, it would be priced to sell.

He said thanks and he walked away. I went into a corner of the store and laughed until my sides hurt.


Rick29 said...

Thanks for sharing those entertaining memories, Kevin. Musicland...I hadn't thought about it in some time! My video memories of the 1990s include a bakery which rented videos on the side. The rental business grew to the point where the bakery business was shut down. Later, when the rental chains put most of the "mom & pop" places out of business, it became a bakery again. Movies and pastries...who would've thunk?

ClassicBecky said...

Kevin, your anecdotes are hilarious! That one poor man probably was so hen-pecked he didn't get Westward the Women because his wife woulnd't let him watch it! And the Showgirls guy...what a hoot.

Really enjoyable piece, Kevin.

Kevin Deany said...

Rick: Movies and baked goods sound like a fine combination to me. At my barber's old location there was a pizza parlor across the street. On Saturday afternoons he would order a large pie. Everyone in the shop was encouraged to have some. It was great. You could get a haircut and lunch for about $12. Such a deal.

Becky: Glad you enjoyed it. You're probably right about his wife.