One day in 1979, when I was 14 years old, I walked up to the counter at the Ben Franklin store (commonly called the Five & Dime in my hometown) and plopped down a copy of Aquaman, two Superman titles and an issue of World's Finest. The cashier looked at me with a crooked brow, which caused me to clear my throat and shuffle my feet as I weakly proclaimed:
"My brother sure loves comic books."
The lady--who, in my memory, looks a lot like my junior high school's cafeteria lady, for some odd reason--didn't respond. She slowly began to ring up the total with an I'm-on-to-you look.
"He's just a kid. 8 years old. Picked these up for him so he can use them to help in learning to read," I said, while doing my best Barney Fife nervous shuffle.
Granny Cashier took my money, handed me the change and my comics in a bag, and I rushed the hell out. Embarrassed. Insecure. A known liar and a lover of comic books!
Several years later, after moving away for college, I discovered comic shops. I loved my town's comic shop...The smell of the old boxed issues, the colorful racks with new issues, the mounds of just-delivered comics each Friday morning. But most of all, the people there didn't judge me. They understood me. They accepted me. No longer needing an excuse to buy comics was liberating, and comforting. I found myself wanting to hang out there, to talk to people about story-lines, art and characters. Conversations I couldn't have on the outside.
This YouTube video is of a failed Comedy Central pilot from 2000, and stars Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn and Sarah Silverman. Super Nerds is about a couple of guys who own a comic shop, and the geeky folks like me who stop in from time to time. It isn't drop dead funny, nor is it a real artistic achievement. But, I sure understand it, and it makes me feel comfortable and safe. More than a failed sitcom, this video seems a lot like real life to me.