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Synthesis - Columns

From 2008 to 2015 I wrote a weekly column for Synthesis Weekly under the name Zooey Mae. What started as an outlet to review graphic novels and comic books evolved over the years to cover everything from pop culture to whatever menial event was happening in my life. Looking back, I think I spent much too much time regaling Chico with tales of my allergies. 

Self-Proclaimed Asshole Gets Run Out Of Local Eatery

Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: August 2011

Being a born-and-raised local has always imparted a sort of (some would say) undeserved feeling of ownership of the town. And yes, I know that the Chico State and (to a lesser extent) Butte College students are only thing keeping Chico from being an Oroville/Magalia hybrid where shirtless Clampers run amuck, drinking Bud Light and screaming “E Clampus Vitus, Mother Fuckers!” So for that, I thank you. However, today I discovered a new type of student that puts the new-in-town college students to shame. Junior High kids. I was in a downtown eatery which shall remain nameless, suffice to say that it is close to the Junior High, when all of a sudden the location was completely infiltrated by middle school kids. The fact that I’m about the same height as them probably didn’t help, but still the combination of noise and general lack of self awareness was overwhelming. Kids at that age seem to be at the absolute height of their awkwardness, having just hit puberty and not really being sure what to do with themselves. I might be a little biased, as I spent the majority of my time hiding behind my painfully shy demeanor, only ever comfortable in my room reading Calvin and Hobbes and Salinger novels that did nothing to assuage my angst.

Holden Caulfield-esque behavior aside, my run-in with those pint-sized gangly goblins made me think back on my formative years, third grade to be specific, the ways in which my nerdy tendencies were beginning to show themselves.

It came mostly in the form of a penchant for not comic books, but comic book cards. You might remember them, they came in random packs and featured singular, or sometimes teams of superheroes and villains. Their stats of strength and abilities appeared on the back, or sometimes an origin story. I was the only female in the class who had this specific hobby, and at recess myself and group of my male classmates would gather to trade and discuss cards. I still have all of them, although one of them in particular was a hot commodity among my small group. A Ghostrider card, with artwork typical of comics in the nineties was my pride possession, the one card I’d never trade no matter what they offered. Keeping them all these years wasn’t an intentional choice, rather a side effect from hiding them in the bottom of a drawer and recently finding them again.

Having worked in a few comic shops it’s a common occurrence for someone to bring in a card collection, excited with the prospect of finally collecting on their childhood investment. It wasn’t ever fun to have to break it to them they really aren’t worth anything. In order for them to be worth something, there would have to be some sort of market for them in this day and age. Without a demand for new cards, the old ones are unfortunately only good for nostalgic purposes. That’s all for this week, don’t forget to check out or Back To School issue next week for all your school related needs. 

Arielle Mullen