"What do you do for a living?" - it's a question I always dread. Running the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society it's... just, well, it's not easy to explain. Our jobs here are weird and multiform, hopelessly specific, and fantastically obscure. Even after decades of practice, I find my best answer often elicits a confused stare from the person who made the faux pas of asking about my job. However, if I'm at a Southern California grocery store, all bets are off.
So today I was a Trader Joe's buying my groceries and making small talk with the bagger and checker. After inviting me to join them at the Harry Potter thing at Universal Studios, the bagger asked me what I do. I used my shortest answer: I'm a producer. He asked what I make and I said lately we've been making a lot of old fashioned style radio plays. He found that interesting and asked if we did things like horror stories. "Why, yes," I replied. He asked if they were like H.P. Lovecraft stories. "They are very much like that, in fact we only produce Lovecraft stories," I replied. I explained that our company is the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. I pointed to my Gilman House Lounge t-shirt that I was wearing as an example of the kind of thing we make.
He told me I was the second guy to come in today wearing one of those shirts. "Seriously? I replied. I mean, we don't sell all that many Gilman House shirts and two dudes wearing them to the same Trader Joe's on the same day seemed to strain credulity. But he was very sure of the fact and was very excited to learn that the HPLHS now has a retail presence here in Los Angeles (more on that in a future post). He was going to be headed to our neighborhood later in the week and was eager to check out our store.
That was pretty strange. But stranger still is the fact that this sort of thing happens with alarming regularity to me at Los Angeles grocery stores. I must hasten to point out though, it does NOT happen at other kinds of stores. Liquor stores, gas stations, hardware stores... never. Grocery stores - all the time. In fact Scott the Cheese Guy at my local Whole Foods is a pretty serious Lovecraft fan and he rushed up to talk to me since I was wearing a Call of Cthulhu shirt. But Scott has nothing on Steve the Wine Guy at that same Whole Foods who is such an HPLHS fan that he once told me in case of a fire at his house, he'd instructed his wife to first rescue his wok, then his CD of The Dunwich Horror and finally his children. I hastened to point out we have more copies of The Dunwich Horror and I'm hoping he's revised his priorities in his wife's rescue plan. Steve feels very strongly that the HPLHS should start producing Lovecraftian tiki shirts. But I digress...
So yes, what we do at the HPLHS is odd and obscure. And odds are if you're here reading our store's blog page, you're a member of what might often feel like an obscure fan community if not a full-blown secret society. But, my regular grocery store Lovecraft encounters remind me that we are part of a every growing community of folks who enjoy the works of HPL and who take delight in finding others with similar interests. Wear your Lovecraft t-shirt to the grocery store.