Friday, August 04, 2006

For What You Are, Feel No Shame

Because I am out of my mind, Jeff Buckley's Sketches For My Sweetheart the Drunk is squawking on the CD player in the otherwise tranquil and sweet-smelling family store when the FedEx guy marches in. It is Friday. My sisters, those fools with excellent taste in household shiny objects, have been spending like sailors on leave in a Japanese housewares factory with a liquor license, and the boxes arrive in waves. Yesterday, I dragged half a dozen boxes half my size into the basement from the front of store because the FedEx guy won't even try threading his hand truck through the needle-narrow aisle of the very breakable store. Today: fifteen, some as big as I am. I called my sisters at their super-secret lakeside retreat to tell them: for those December holidays, whatever they give me better come in carats.

On the other hand: I am positively a vision, drenched in sweat. My beauty and charisma, overwhelming on a brisk autumn evening, are dangerous when augmented by summer swelter and exertion. Stand back! If you come any closer, your safety cannot be guaranteed!

Yesterday, Highland Park had an event on its main street between 4-8, so Daria drove in from Flemington to give me a hand. We ran around the store, laughing for four hours, though it's not all fun and games. A real estate agent comes to the counter and asks if we have postcards for the town-wide garage sale. Daria and I stare at one another. Then we stare at the woman, who in 100 degree heat is wearing too much makeup and not sweating. I smell Evil. Daria senses it too and runs around the counter to point at a pile of postcards inches from the strange woman, who says, "Make sure you talk that up and tell everyone who comes in about it." Daria and I smile and nod and smile and nod until she leaves. We wave through the glass door. Then we turn around.

Tata: Yeah yeah, the weather's having a profound effect on business. Raritan Avenue was deserted all day but the crazy people came in.

Daria's standing in an air conditioned store, fanning herself.

Daria: Ya think?
Tata: This morning, a normal-looking young woman comes in. I'd guess she's about 23. She wants a get well card for her boyfriend's boss, whose father has been hospitalized for a sudden illness.
Daria: The boyfriend's...boss'...father...that's four degrees of separation and there can only be six.
Tata: And since I'm telling you this, one of us must be Kevin Bacon. Anyway, the get well cards aren't what she wants. I help her pick out a blank card with a really striking image. I say soothing things because she's irritable.
Daria: You were nice to her?
Tata: Yeah, I was shocked, too. She pays for it and tells me she's left her cell phone at the post office across the street. I say, "Well, dahhhhhhlink, your day can only improve."
Daria: Are you done talking yet?
Tata: Are my lips still moving?
Daria: Yeah, I don't get it.
Tata: That's because a couple hours pass and the phone rings. It's that normal girl.
Daria: NO! What's she want?
Tata: She wants to know what to write in the card.
Daria: Did you shout, "GET SOME FRIENDS"?
Tata: Miraculously, I did not! For ten minutes, I stammered out creative versions of "You're in our thoughts at this difficult time". This did not impress her. Finally, I said, "You know, you can just write, 'With best wishes for your father's speedy recovery.'" And she hung up all happy.
Daria: Oh. My. God! I can't believe you didn't tell her to go straight to Hell!
Tata: Siobhan and I are thinking of making a cottage-industry line of cards that do just that. Hallmark has failed to meet our "Go Fuck Yourself" card needs.
Daria: Wow...that's like discovering there's a flavor of chocolate you'd never imagined...
Tata: And because we're, like, selfless about our selfishness, we skip printing them on paper.
Daria: What, e-cards?
Tata: No, I can just call people up, mention cute baby bunnies, and tell them you said they should go fuck themselves. In fact, after dinner I might do it for fun. Oh! You can pay me to call and pay me again to stop.
Daria: I'm impressed your plan includes repeat business. But I'll kill you if you try it.
Tata: Siobhan handles the subsidiary death threat customers.
Daria: Why?
Tata: I'm not entirely sure she hasn't killed anyone yet, and you go with your strengths.

I would like to work from home...


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