The Queen B and I are standing in line at the local Hollywood Video, the next in line to check out our DVDs. Behind us in line stands a lone teenager, who might best be described as Norville “Shaggy” Rogers made flesh: vacuous face vaguely defined by patches of facial hair, sitting atop a gangly, slightly hunched frame loosely covered by clothes three sizes too large. And though one could never prove it definitively in the cartoon, this Norville is enshrouded in a fog of weed.
The line is moving painfully slow, partly because the folks ahead of us in line are attempting to rent the entire filmography of Jim Carrey, and partly because the clerk, like all clerks at this particular Hollywood Video, has trouble sounding out the big words in the movie titles. Sensing potential customer dissatisfaction, the manager steps up to the counter and announces “I can help someone over here.”
The B and I turn to head that way, only to find that Norville has obliviously passed us by and waltzed up to the counter. Before the manager has a chance to explain the finer points of the order axioms governing the principles of modern society’s line-standing procedures, Norville announces, “Yeah, I think I’ve got a late video game or something.”
The manager takes a full look at Norville, considers this information, and is completely unsurprised. He begins clacking at the keyboard. “Let me check. Do you have your Hollywood card?”
“Yeah.” Norville rummages around in his back pocket for a full minute before producing his Hollywood card, which, despite being made of laminated cardstock, appears as worn and crumpled as a two-week-old high school bathroom pass.
The manager unfolds the card enough to read off Norville’s rental information, which he enters into the computer. “Yep, it looks like you’ve got Grand Theft Auto, and its nine days overdue.”
“Yeah,” agrees the manager. “It also looks like you’ve got a late movie, too.”
“Whoa,” repeats Norville. Then, possibly suspecting that The Man is trying to pull a fast one on him, he cleverly asks, “Really?”
“Yeah. Harold and Kumar go to White Castle.”
“Oh yeah,” Norville replies, apparently moderately aware of his previous rental history. Coincidently enough, Norville’s renting of a movie about two stoners battling a massive case of the munchies continues to leave the manager totally unsurprised.
“So,” continues Norville, “what is it, like, two or three days late?”
Even Norville is impressed by this.
“Whoa,” he says.
It begins to dawn on me, still standing aimlessly in linear limbo, that perhaps instead of weed, Norville is in fact enshrouded by a cloud of dumb.
Norville shifts a little bit, and asks, “So I need to pay, like, late fees?”
The manager politely nods yes. Norville begins to root around in his back pocket for his wallet.
“The late fee is 65 dollars,” adds the manager helpfully.
Norville stops rooting in his pocket. “Oh. Whoa. I, uh, don’t have that kinda money on me,” he admits.
A look of total surprise completely fails to cross the manager’s face.
“You don’t have to pay it all of right now.”
Norville smiles and says, “Cool.” He goes back to the nebulous depths of his back pocket and eventually produces his wallet, apparently unaware that it was in fact connected to his belt by a chain the entire time. He opens up his wallet and asks, “Can I pay, like, 10 dollars right now?”
“Sure,” replies the manager, sensing light at the end of this tunnel. “I’ll credit it towards your late charge.”
“Cool,” says Norville, who pulls out a couple of crumpled bills. He slowly unrolls the bills on the counter, and within a minute or so realizes a potential obstacle. “Uh, dude,” Norville mumbles sheepishly, “I don’t have ten dollars. Can I just pay five?”
The manager, as always, is unsurprised. With a sigh, he replies, “Yes.”
“Cool. Here ya go!” Norville says triumphantly, and pushes the bills across the counter. The manager slides the money into the register and hands Norville the receipt. Norville looks at it for a bit and then slides it and his wallet into is back pocket. Suddenly, Norville leans over the counter and tells he manager, conspiratorially if not covertly, “I’ll be right back… I’m gonna check out a video game,” and ambles to the back of the store.
B and I finally step up to the register to find one very surprised-looking manager.