Lovecraft at the Grocery Store

"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.

Comment on this post (11 comments)

  • Paul Zane says...

    After NecronomiCon Providence, I found myself at the deli counter of a local New Jersey supermarket discussing all things Lovecraft, Call of Cthulhu RPG, and Conventions with the guy running the slicer. He had seen my convention Tee-shirt, was a fan of Lovecraft and wanted to know everything, much to the chagrin of the other ten ‘normal’ deli customers behind me. Only at the grocery store? Indeed.

    May 08, 2019

  • Raven says...

    If by any chance you do decide to end up making HPLHS tiki (or Hawaiian or otherwise Pacific-themed) shirts, may I suggest at least taking a look over at another “alternate universe”, the Airship Flying Cloud R-505 <>? It seems in that timeline, rather than wind up pale, sickly, and thallasophobic, a certain Providence gentleman actually joined the merchant marine, which took him to a healthy, happy, suntanned life and career in the South Pacific as “Captain Howard Phillips” (of the freighter Innsmouth Shadow), first mentioned in episode 40, background told in episode 81 — note the red shirt with white flowers….

    November 25, 2018

  • P. Browne says...

    I want to second or third the suggestion of Lovecraftian Tiki shirts. I’ll pre-order one the moment it’s possible. Would it help if I grovel?

    December 02, 2017

  • The Entertainment Critic says...

    If you do start making Tiki shirtsm might I recommend making Cthulhu Hawaiian shirts (or something to that extent). Because I would like a Lovecraftian Hawaiian shirt, and I betcha Howie (over at Ask Lovecraft) would like one too.

    Hope to hear more awesome stories.

    August 28, 2017

  • Larissa says...

    HPLHS Tiki shirts?!???? Yes!!!!!

    PUG has run out, we need a fresh supply!

    August 23, 2017

  • Lisa Wintler-Cox says...

    Tiki Shirts? Have you ever made bowling shirts or those shirts with the two stripes—one on either side—with machine embroidery? Will you ever? I’m pretty sure you should.

    August 23, 2017

  • Mark says...

    Great To Know,The Word Of Lovecraft Is Getting Out!!! I’m Getting More and More Into It,All The Time. It Is A Wonderful,Utterly Fantastical Alternate Universe. So Far,I Only Have 1 Good Friend,Whom I Discuss Lovecraft With,But I Know I Will Have A Blast,When I Run Into Others,To Commune With.

    June 07, 2017

  • Chris Lott says...

    I’ve been wearing my Miskatonic hoodie regularly (though less so, now that it’s starting to heat up a bit here in Southern California) and I’ve lost track of how many people have stopped me to admire it, inquire about it, and who have sworn to buy one of their own. It’s heartening to know that my “weird” interest in Lovecraft is shared by so many others, both within the Society and without.

    May 24, 2017

  • Bob Key says...

    I was at the Walmart grocery recently wearing my Miskatonic Meta-Phys Ed shirt. There was a guy stocking shelves, and he said, “Miskatonic University. How many people have recognized that?” I said, “You’re the second.”

    We chatted for a few minutes. He showed me his debit card which had a picture of Cthulhu. I told him about your website.

    The other person to notice my Miskatonic logo T-shirt was a guy who took my order at Taco Bell. He said there was a regular customer who comes in wearing Miskatonic T-shirts. (I don’t know if the shirts are yours or not.)

    So the shirts do garner some attention in public.

    May 05, 2017

  • Scott halloween says...

    Hi guys! This seems to be the freshest update so I’m hoping to get your eyes on my comment. I LOVED both the films and am craving more. When will we see a film noir DUNWICH HORROR? Common, I’ve got bucks burning a hole in my pocket.

    On a side note: consider redoing the puppet animation on the CALL of CTHULHU and adding some fresh bits…
    A small change like ’tis could be reissued as a SPECIAL EDITION. No offence to the original animator, but effects in that year were better than that.

    Other than that, keep up the good work.
    Scott halloween.

    April 25, 2017

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