I have always sought out high weirdness when it comes to books. Whether it is old Nazi propaganda, medical tomes on parasites that run riot throughout the body, or books on communism written by crackpots, if it’s odd, I’m interested.
Many moons ago I visited the Occult Emporium, which was located in Allentown, PA at the time. I had always heard rumors about the place, and my initial reaction (other than that it was tiny because it was basically set up in the basement of a building) was of glee. Scattered amongst the candles, Tarot cards, newspaper articles about people dumb enough to shoplift from the store, and Aleister Crowley’s helmet (which I touched despite the warning sign), were books and pamphlets on the occult.
I was drawn to these things like a goth to a black eyeliner sale. Books on Satanism, witchcraft, identifying demons (as if one really needed to do that) and astral projection begged for my hard-earned money. There was one little pamphlet, however, that really caught my eye. I held it. I looked through it. I didn’t care about the price, though it was a pittance at $2.50. I didn’t care that it wasn’t a standard paperback. I wanted it and had to have it.
How to Shrink Heads? Its title a question. Its question a promise. Its promise peculiar.
I can, if forced, justify my purchase of it by saying I’m a writer and it is research material. That isn’t true, though. It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. Yeah, I’m a writer, but the pamphlet is just so damn cool that I had to have it. Not for research purposes, but for the holy-shit-I’m-learning-how-to-shrink-a-human-head factor. They don’t write a Dummies guide for that.
You wouldn’t buy it?
Of course not! What would be the point? What would you do with it? How often would you read it? Who cares? It’s a pamphlet on shrinking human heads! You can’t find that at Target. You don’t stumble across it at a yard sale. It’s not the type of thing you see every day. In fact, my copy is the only one I’ve seen, period, and I’m always looking weird shit up on the net. What’s not to love about that?
I bought it and never looked back. Incredibly, it’s not the oddest ephemera I own, but it is one of the more interesting. Conversation starter? No. Anything that tells you how to shrink a human head is really a conversation ender. People learn you have that sort of thing and instantly change the topic to something less anti-social like anal bleaching. I’m not disappointed. I understand. Anyone who doesn’t want to discuss shrinking human heads isn’t someone I really want to talk to anyway. I do, however, have something I could use them for …