Credit: Illustration by Emily Flake

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Larry Wechsler has a way of creeping up on people. “You are very sneaky; you are sneaky,” says Tower Records shopper Gail Conley as she is handed a surprise present from the jittery Tower denizen. It’s a CD wrapped up in a Tower bag with Wechsler’s phone number scrawled on the front in red ink. “It’s a gift,” he says. “Call me.”

Conley and Wechsler don’t go way back. In fact, they met only about 10 minutes ago while rummaging through one of Tower’s closeout bins. “I was looking through CDs. She was looking through the all-the-way-against-the-wall CDs. We started talking, looking at the CDs, talking,” says Wechsler, who’s in his mid-40s. “I bought her a Christmas gift. Emerson Lake & Palmer. It’s a good one, one I had not seen.”

The record aisle Romeo is pretty laid-back about his chances with Conley. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m not, like, waiting by the phone,” Wechsler says. Then again, maybe he is. “It would be nice to get a call, go out for dinner with her, maybe meet for a drink.… Generally, people don’t call, I think.”

Conley, a local yoga instructor in really tight blue sweat pants, is not Wechsler’s first Tower Records pickup target. It’s become one of his prime hunting grounds for prospective mates over the years, mainly because of the selection. “People here are funky; they have a different vibe,” he says. “I’ve met other girls, guys. I’ve hung out, had coffee with the people.”