Ever have a day when you just feel continuously embarrased?

I wanted to buy the soundtrack to Metropolis as soon as I saw it. I saw it with a friend of mine who's not really an anime` fan; but then, neither am I; I'm just inclined to want to see movies that I read front-page stories about in the New York Times. In any case, good movie (though I missed most of the finer plot points), great animation, great soundtrack; like videogame dixieland.

Unfortunately, I was broke. I don't have a job and am currently living on a $20-a-week allowence (which means I take the bus just about everywhere -- not a bad thing in Ann Arbor in the summer; it means I'm walking enough to be not-completely-out-of-shape, too) until I go back to college in the fall or find temp employment. I kept looking in music stores for it, though, just for the heck of it, to give me something to do when downtown with a couple of hours to kill; nobody seemed to have it. I even looked for it on Amazon (yes, it was there; but I don't have a credit card; anyway, as I said, I'm broke).

One day, I happened to pass Encore Records (one of Ann Arbor's many (though not as many as once) independent new/used record stores) and went in, for the hell of it. Looked for the CD. Felt out of place among the mostly middle-aged shoppers. Couldn't find it, so I went to the counter.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for a dixieland CD. Er, the soundtrack to Metropolis."

"The Japanimation or the 1926 silent film?" He looked like a smart guy; I'm sure there was some reason for asking me this, though I haven't figured it out.

"Er, the new animated movie." (Note: I don't actually say 'er'; like any american, I say 'uh'. For some reason it becomes 'er' in text, though. (Come to think of it, I used to say 'er' quite a lot after reading the HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy in middle school, but I imagine it sounded pretty weird.))

"I don't think we have that, but I'm sure you can find it over at WizzyWig." I'd never heard of WizzyWig, but he was pointing vaguely in the direction of the Michigan Theater, so, after bypassing the counter and the left wall of the store, that was the direction I went.

A few stores down, I saw it -- a simple glass-windowed door with the green WizzyWig emblem plastered across it. Locked. I noticed a notice, an arrow pointing to the right, instructing me to "Use main entrance". To the right, however, was not an entrance but a staiway leading down to Digital Ops, then a stairway leading up to, I believe, apartments.

I noticed a guy sitting on a concrete thingy. "Uh, you wouldn't happen to know how to get into Wizziwyg, would you?"

"I think the entrance is there," he said, pointing to a ridiculously obvious set of 2 glass doors beneath a giant Wizziwyg sign just to the right of the apartment entrance. He wasn't mocking, he was trying to make it look like he was making an educated guess, but the effect was similar. I went in.

And stopped. Everything was white, pure, brilliant white. No, not everything -- looking closer, I could see little colorful things in the nooks and crannies. Comic books. Mostly, I remember comic books. The woman behind the counter -- pretty, young, asian -- was the only person in the store.

I must have looked lost. "Can I help you?"

"Uh, yeah, do you have the Soundtrack to Metropolis?"

"It's sold out." Wow. So my taste in movie music isn't freakishly bizarre after all.

"Uh, thanks anyway."

Weeks later, at a bus stop, I discovered a plain-printed advertisement amid the plain-printed advertisements. The U of M was looking for participants in a study of cultural thinking differences -- specifically, Jews who had been through some, but not all, of college -- and it explained and there would be compensation.

Compensation! Praise the lord!

I ripped off the little tag and, eventually, emailed the address and was deemed a qualified subject. I went in, watched horrendously rough animations of fish, answered some questions, and was paid $40 and sent on my way.

Travel time to WizzyWig: 5 minutes, by foot. This time, there were a few more people in the store, and both women behind the desk were caucasian, about my age. I still felt like an extraterrestrial.

"Hi, do you have the soundtrack to Metropolis?"

"It should be over with the CDs if we have it."

I went over to the CDs; Metropolis, apparently, wasn't among them, and I told the woman at the counter so. She escorted me back to the CD wall and plucked it from beneath a Final Fantasy soundtrack.

I paid, mumbling something or other, embarassed. She smiled. "Do you want to come with us to the Nelly concert?" She pointed to a mini-poster on the counter of a japaneese woman with cool hair.

Abruptly, I realized: she thought I belonged here. She thought I was a die-hard anime` fan. "No, thanks." I couldn't help sounding just a tiny bit amused. And then I left.

But god, she was nice.

Tonight, having discovered the wonder that is MegaTokyo, reading through the back issues, I thought of it again. Me, standing before the counter, painfully shy, wide-eyed, smiling slightly, pink-cheeked with embarassment. Take away the zits, and presto...

Maybe anime` conditions friendliness to that kind of thing, empathy with people who look like that, in situations like that. Maybe the people who identify with that kind of thing are drawn to anime`. All I know is, she saw me, she wanted to make me feel better, she invited me to a concert.

I should have gone.