Seam Ripper

It’s cloudy outside, so I don’t mind spending my Sunday ripping seams out of my favorite red t-shirt. Besides, it gives me something to do while I sit here in front of my sunlamp, which I have to do from August ’til March lest I tumble down into that depression place where I want to tear my eyes out with a seam ripper.

My boyfriend popped in a few minutes ago and asked why I didn’t just buy a new red t-shirt. I told him that this is my favorite red t-shirt. He said he saw one just like it at Target last week and that he’d buy me one. I told him I don’t want another one, that I like the way the ragged edge around the neck hole curls up and looks interesting. He said that there is nothing interesting about a woman wearing a torn-up t-shirt. I told him that there is nothing more interesting in this entire world than such a woman, and that he had better leave. He left, but I suspect he’ll be back in time for dinner.

So, I’m ripping seams out of my favorite red t-shirt. It has always been my favorite for the exact same reason that has me ripping out the seams. This t-shirt is flattering in the way only a flat-chested woman can understand. It’s tight. And form-fitting. In fact, it is so tight and form-fitting that I have to tear out the seams around the neck because half of them tore out the last time I put it on. The reality is that my head will always be bigger than my bosoms, and the fate of the neck hole was imminent. But I can fix it. I am fixing right now. I am sitting here ripping the seams out of my favorite red t-shirt.

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Fro Youth

(509 words)

29 degrees outside, pelting sleet, but what I needed was frozen yogurt.

So, I left the motor running when I jumped out of the car and crossed the parking lot, whispering profanities as I found myself torn between moving slowly while being sliced by silvers of ice, or dashing across the tundra with the risk of falling and splitting my chin on the pavement.

“Welcome to Zinga!” the little girl shouted from behind the counter. I recently discovered that, in my estimation, any female under 25 was a “little girl.” This one had curly black hair and a smile that was possibly reflective of her true personality, or the result of having had one too many cups of coffee, or both.

“I love frozen yogurt,” she said. “And it’s not just because I work here. Can I help you?”

“No thanks, I’ve been here before,” I said. I picked up a “medium” tub and walked over to the vanilla machine, hoping that she’d recognize my familiarity with the process and leave me alone.

“Seriously, it’s not because I work here. I really love frozen yogurt. I always have the same thing, every single time. I have Triple Chocolate and I put on some raspberries and then I drown it all in whipped cream. That’s what I always do. Except last week when I had Mocha Mist and did the Oreo Dirt with hot fudge and rainbow sprinkles but I didn’t get whipped cream, which was too bad because that’s when I found out how much really I like whipped cream. Whipped cream is the bomb, isn’t it?”

I looked down and found myself in the act of squirting whipped cream on my sundae, so I couldn’t keep ignoring her. “Yes,” I said. “Whipped cream is very good.” I put down the can and waited for her to start talking again. She took a deep breath, clearly revving up for another raucous soliloquy, and during the pause I heard Rick Springfield on the Musak. “Rick Springfield,” I said. “Wow.” I picked up a pair of tongs, plucked a red cherry from its basin of goo, and plopped it on top of my sundae. “I haven’t heard this one in a while.” That was a lie. I’d heard the song the day before yesterday; it was in one of my playlists, the one I listened to every morning on my way to work.

“Yeah, right?” the girl said. “What’s this song called? Oh, yeah, “Jessie’s Girl.” I guess he was like a one-hit-wonder?”

“Actually, he had a couple of songs, and he was a soap star…,” I said.

“Oh, yeah, sure,” she said. “I remember now. You know what other song I like? I like ‘Dancing Queen’. That’s one of my favorite old songs.”

I set my cup on the scale. “Now, that one is really old,” I said. “My Mom used to listen to that one.”

“They’re all old to me,” she said.

I handed the little girl a five, told her to keep the change, and raced out to my car.

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The Winking Trap

I winked at someone last night. It was harmless. Nothing will come of it, except, you know, the obvious. The trap.

Going to Staples at 9:30pm on a Wednesday is hardly what I would call a good time, but there I was, selecting binders and 3-hole paper for a project that was just assigned to me – due the next morning after having had languished on my boss’ desk for weeks. I needed CDs, too. I hate shopping for any kind of technology, the choices are overwhelming, and my ignorance, mired in a lack of interest, leaves me wide-eyed and slack-jawed in the aisles.

He came to my assistance unbidden. When I feel like a moron I typically like to be left alone but there he was, a diminutive man asking me if I needed read/write or read only and then nodding professionally as he handed me a stack of CDs. My problem was solved, my angst alleviated, and then he was gone.

I paid for my supplies and walked out of the store, pausing when I got to the sidewalk. “I’ll send a letter to his manager,” I thought. “Service like that deserves to be acknowledged.” I turned and went back into the store. I took a cursory walk thru the aisles but my hero was nowhere to be found. I returned to the cashier. “There’s a man who helped me in the technology section,” I said. “Do you know his name?”

“Was he Hispanic?” she asked. The question gave me pause. Was that racist? Was the fact that she was black make it un-racist? Did my being Caucasian make me racist? I pulled myself together. “Yes, he was,” I said. “And very friendly.”

“That’s Rubin,” she said. “Wait, was he wearing a shirt like mine?” she tugged on the hem of her red shirt.

“Yes, he was,” I said. “He’s not a tall man… I’m going to send a note to the manager, to tell him how helpful Rubin was,” I said, as I grinned and winked.

That’s how it happened. That was the wink. And now I have to live with the consequences of that wink, the certainty that I’ve set into play a stream of winks that will plague me until it’s replaced by some other involuntary twitch – maybe the horrendous thumbs-up or the damning finger gun with the corner of the mouth ‘chitk-chitk’. The good habit of thanking people for commendable service has let loose the bad habit of asinine gestures and verbal emissions. It’s not fair that it took years to develop the good habit and mere moments to unleash the bad. Moreover, it’s not fair to the Rubins of the world. I simply can’t afford to be trapped like this. It’s just not worth it to be appreciative.

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A Frog to Remember

“Tell me you seriously don’t remember.”

Stacy is sitting in a lawn chair on the deck of her three-story townhouse, looking out at the colorful autumn leaves in the woods. Breaking her gaze is the banister of the railing, even more so, the two foot high resin frog sitting there.

“You are actually telling me that you don’t know where I got that thing,” Stacy says, jutting her chin toward the frog.

“Yes, I am. What’s the big deal?” Karen asks. She’s visiting from Fort Lauderdale, grateful for Stacy’s guest bedroom and the chance to sit outside in the cool air of Charlotte in October. “You going to tell me?”

Stacy raises an eyebrow and looks at Karen. “How long have you been divorced now?” she asks.

“Two and a half years,” Karen answers, involuntarily wrinkling her nose. “What does Thomas have to do with it? Wait, I know, Thomas looks like a frog.”

“Rude,” Stacy says. “No, I’m talking about how that frog got there.”

“Did he give it to you? Figures he’d give you something. He never gave me anything. Except now, now he gives me alimony, child support, and grief. Other than the grief I’d say I’m getting a better deal than you got with that damn frog,” Karen says.

“Bitter much?” asks Stacy. “No, your in-laws gave that frog to y’all. For a wedding present.”

“Really? I don’t remember that at all.”

“Yeah, you got married on a Saturday and you put that frog on your front stoop on Monday and you complained about it every day for six years. I’d always liked it, so when y’all were breaking up I asked if I could have it. But you said ‘no’; you made a big fuss about how it was the ‘last bastion’ of your marriage and how you couldn’t possibly part with it.”

Karen stands up and walks over to the frog. She reaches out and strokes its plastic head, running her hand over its smooth haunches and webbed toes.

“When I visited you a year ago I took it,” Stacy says. “It’s been sitting on my banister ever since. You’ve been here twice since then,” she sighs. “You never even noticed.”

“I never even noticed,” Karen repeats, looking out at the trees and wishing there was an autumn in Fort Lauderdale.

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Hair and Liberty

When I arrived to the office this morning, my hair took it upon itself to annoy me by hanging in my face.

In the absence of barrettes or bobby pins, I MacGyver’d restraining devices from paperclips.

I think the result makes a statement about liberation from the constructs of traditional beauty, while providing commentary about the shackles of a 9-to-5, hose-and-heels workplace.

Moreover, I hope my hair doesn’t rust.

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In the Pits of Pain

Ladies:
Do you ever wake up on a Sunday and decide that you’re not going to take a shower but the prickles in your armpits are uncomfortable so you scrape them with a dry, twin-blade, Venus knock-off and all seems fine until about 15 minutes later when your pits burn with the intensity of a white-hot sun?  And then later in the day you decide to go ahead and take a shower and while doing so absent-mindedly drag that same razor across your pits again and scream with the sensation of having smeared wasabi on an open wound?

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Her Stinking Promise

I had smelled my way through every airplane-bottle-sized vial of scented oil in the St. Louis Galleria’s Bare Escentuals store. My head pounded from the onslaught of floral, dusty, musty and rainwater-fresh fragrances. And still, nothing.

The strategy of the store was to lure you in with the essence of redolent oils and then for a perky sales clerk to sell you a scent blended into every kind of body wash, shampoo, conditioner and hand soap she had stocked on the shelves.

They all stunk to me.  And there was only one left to smell.

It was called simply, “JM.” Those are my initials. “This could be perfume kismet,” I thought as I closed my eyes and lifted the bottle to my nose. It smelled soapy and clean. It smelled like fresh starts and new beginnings. It smelled the way I wanted to smell, the kind of smell that I thought, if it were exuding from my pores, would make me hopeful and happy. I wanted to smear it all over my body, and Ingrid, eager for her commission, was more than willing to work her alchemic magic to ensure that I had enough product to drench myself in morning, noon and night.

“And,” Ingrid said, “the owner’s daughter’s initials are ‘JM’, so you can be sure it’ll never be discontinued.”

“Thank God,” I said. “I haven’t been able to count on anything lately.”

Ingrid had promised.

She lied.

 

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