2:18AM -I suddenly realize that in any group situation involving
extreme duress or imminent death, like when animals attack or during the world's scariest
police chases, I would most likely be the first person to die. Not only because I'm weak -
both inwardly and on the outside - and would be instinctively targeted by predators as an
easy kill, but also because my small, paste-colored frame is unconditioned for functioning
on less than eight hours of sleep. The fact that I have deprived myself of rest for almost
twenty-four hours, so that I can stand in line for a fancy Japanese calculator that I'm
not even going to keep, only helps to deepen my intense shame. I glance over at my friend
Josh, who looks as miserable as I feel. At least he'll actually get to play with his
The only moderately conscious person among us at the moment is my roommate Brock, who
is coming along to film the "event". He hasn't slept since Tuesday night, so I
can't figure out why he seems to be so excited. Regardless, if he doesn't start to calm
down real soon, I'm liable to punch him right in the fucking stomach - don't worry, he
isn't one-fiftieth as tough as his hyper-masculine name makes him sound. It's way too
early for anyone to be smiling.
We haven't even left my apartment yet, and already I'm having doubts about Erik's
idiotic Get Rich Less Slowly scheme. For instance: where is Erik on this cold, drizzly
At home. Asleep. That's where. [In case anyone is starting to feel sorry for Mark,
I was playing Rune. - ed.]
3:04AM - After picking up our friend Brian
(31k), we arrive at the mall. We are somewhat disappointed to find that nobody else is
here yet. That might be because we are the only people retarded enough to stand in line
for six hours in the freezing rain to pick up a child's toy that we've already payed for
and are guaranteed to get even if we arrived, say, after a late lunch. But I prefer to
view it as a testament to my intense yearning for easy money. I have no excuse for the
other guys. Josh's funny - ie: subversive! - face hair could be one explanation.
3:31AM - We set up base camp in front of Electronics Boutique, which is just a
gay mountain-man way of saying that we sat down. The air is charged with both excitement
and an impending sense of easy money. I think I'm getting my second wind, for it is with
renewed enthusiasm that I huddle beneath my sleeping bag, trying desperately to stay warm
despite the pouring rain. I know that any second now, a drenched mob of less commited
nerds will begin assembling behind us, and I will stand before them, wearing my dampness
like a Pokemon badge of honor, and loudly remind them of my positional superiority using
slightly altered Romero-isms. "I'm going to make all of you my bitch!"
I'll yell at them in a voice you may remember from the last time you saw a black comedian
pretend to white. "Suck my PS2! That's right, Pointdexter, you're gonna
put it in your mouth and suck it! Hey you, dork... No the other one... That's right,
YOU. You like the PS2? TOO BAD I'M #1 IN LINE! I hope you liked gettin'
up at four AM - TO BUY A DREAMCAST! Cuz I'm takin' all the PS2s. If you're
thinking about getting me a coffee mug to commemorate my PS2 purchase, a good thing for it
to say would be 'Lordy, lordy, look who bought forty!' And my buddy here Josh, or as
you may know him, TV's #2 IN LINE, is going to buy any of the ones I forget to buy."
My optimism, however, is stifled by the horrid new-age
elevator music (58k) that mall management has seen fit to pump through their sound
system at 3 o'clock in the morning. I'm not sure whether they play terrible music this
late at night in order to keep vagrants away or just to make them edgy and dangerous -
like everything Todd MacFarlane touches - but it is truly offensive. If you were to
accompany Kenny G through the Andes mountains on the back of magical flying dolphin, this
would be the soundtrack, if Kenny G was screwing the Dolphin. Somebody needs to turn this
crap off. Soon.
3:49AM - We've risked our #1-in-line status in order to take shelter from the
ever-thickening sheets of rain. My raging second wind has been moisturized down to a light
third breeze, and I'm starting to feel delirious. I think I just offered to show everybody
my testicles, but I can't be sure. My boredom has already reached a magnitude far greater
than the time my girlfriend forced me to sit through "Steel Magnolias," only
right now I feel even more ashamed than when Olympia Dukakis gave me a boner.
I try to think about how I'll spend my share of the future riches, but all I can think
about is how genuinely stupid I feel to be standing in the rain, buying an electronic
fun-box for kids. I wonder how Erik feels right now, sleeping soundly in his soft, dry
Pretty fucking good, I imagine. Pretty fucking good.
4:35AM - It's raining harder. We're still all alone, save the roaming security
guards and creepy, zombie-like janitors. Nothing to report, other than the fact that I
really have to take a poop. All of the bathrooms seem to be locked however, and the
janitors aren't talking.
|The People in Line
5:32AM - In a sudden, glorious twist of fate, the rain has let up and the first
group of people has arrived! Unfortunately, they aren't even remotely interested in
talking to us, so the potential excitement of lording our #1-in-line status over them
quickly dissipates. I retreat to the warmth of my sleeping bag. Josh looks like he might
5:45AM - Fifteen minutes later, we are joined by Group #3: a gaunt, older couple
who possess an unsettling intensity and creepy bulging eyes. The husband begins
enthusiastically showing us his complete list of collected PS2 software as the wife looks
on, feverishly scrawling down pages of unfathomable notes in a tiny black book. They are
quiet and polite, but there is something dark and disconcerting about them, too. Something
I can't put my finger on. They're making me nervous, and I'm almost too afraid to fall
And I can't be sure, but I think the music is actually
Once again, my thoughts bitterly turn to Erik.
6:26AM - I've spent the last half hour conversing with #4-in-line, who has got
to be the most fantastically retarded fanboy to ever creep-up God's green earth with his
smelly black trenchcoat. He arrived in a cloud of smoke and unwashed stink, and
immediately developed an unhealthy obsession with our group. Between regaling me with
stories of his latest Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior conquests, as if I, #1 in line to
buy the Playstation 2, would care, he informs me of the "liquid-cooled bass
system" he recently bought "from the back of a van." "Dude! It's like
an $800 system, and I got it for $70 bucks!" he tells me between great puffs of air
fouled by passing across his dirty teeth. "When I play it, I can knock pictures off
of walls! I have to lay all sixty of my Gundam figures down when I turn it on, or they'll
fall all over the place!"
"All sixty, huh? So you collect a lot of action figures?" I ask. "What
do you do with them all? Do you play with them?"
"Yeah, I put them in poses and stuff, especially right before my anime friends
come over. Hey, you guys want to see me do my Resident Evil impression?"
I tried to capture the some of the madness emanating from this guy's mouth, but the new-age salsa music pretty much drowned everything out on
my handheld tape recorder. So you're going to have to trust me here. The guy was a highly
6:27AM - Immediately after I'd finished documenting the above, #4-in-line walks
up to me and commands me to "put my ass on the window and fart." I have no idea
what he's trying to say to me, but I assume we're still cool since he followed his
outburst with a "ha ha ha". That's exactly the kind of lunacy I was
talking about earlier. This has suddenly become the one of the more magical mornings of my
6:40AM - #5-in-line showed up, and he seems pretty aloof. We leave him alone,
because he's bigger than us and looks mean. I had trouble taking a picture of him, because
I was afraid of having my teeth knocked out with my own camera. In the above picture, you
can seem him standing next to #6-in-line, who arrived wearing what looked like a tiny
cowboy hat. I tried to be friendly with this one, but he didn't seem to appreciate my
salutation of "Howdy, pardner!" at all, and took up residence alongside #5. They
whisper back and forth sporadically, and cast menacing looks in my direction, but I'm not
too worried. No pretty cowboy queen is going to line dance his way between me and my
Playstation 2, even if I have to defend myself from his football jock friend by hurling my
own crap like a monkey.
The tension mounts. Only one hour left.
7:04AM - In a completely undramatic, thoroughly humorless fashion, Electronics
Boutique opens early and we get our systems, thus bringing my Playstation 2 log to an
unexpected, anticlimatic ending.
As dawn breaks to the east, illuminating our escape from this Jaycee's Haunted Forest
of consumerism, I can't help but reflect back on the first baby-steps in the journey
towards my imminent shared wealth. I think back on the laughter, the love, and the pain,
and I can't help but laugh a little, especially when I think about Josh's sideburns and
the laughter. What have I learned from this sojourn into the black heart of the
consumer electronics culture? Just this: love's tender bonds may be easily broken, but not
so easily as the kneecaps of the pretty cowboy queen, should he and his little fucking hat
ever come between me and my money. Special collector's edition bonus lessons: 1) the
Dreamcast actually seems a lot better than the PS2, but 2) don't mention that in your eBay ad. THE END.