Friday, 19 February 2016

Open for Business

Right around the time Laurel Holland was developing incredible, naturally perky yet weighty breasts, I went into business.

I have tried on several career options throughout my life. After all, Ghandi started out as a lawyer. I have been a princess, soap opera actress, cocktail waitress, veterinarian, and, memorably, news anchor for CMM news station. The last venture involved a 1984 camcorder and, often, the cooperation of that dopey, uninspired sister of mine, as well as a slew of Fox News worthy headlines around the house. "CMM News - this is Courtney Marissa Morgan, reporting from the living room, where Snowball has just urinated on the couch." I chirped into the shaking camera. As a cocktail waitress I coined "The Grandma" in honor of my grandmother Mary's request, her pointed finger adorned with metallic beige nails and gold cocktail ring, to "fill 'er ALL the way up!"when pouring her a glass of ice cold Chardonnay during the family game of Shanghai Rummy. Being a little too young to keep my attention on any cards other than the royalty for more than ten minutes (and by then the Queen had already sustained a scandalous affair with the Jack), I relegated my seven year old self to crafting the perfect Manhattan with only sixteen ingredients. I also demanded tips. After all, no one went thirsty with such an attentive server and one table of 7.

My first storefront opened summer 1990. I had carefully selected the wares and set up displays, all the prices marked on little white rectangular stickers. The tattered magazines were carefully fanned in a perfect one hundred eighty degree arc on the couch, while the golf balls showed their names in a single, neat line across their dimpled faces next to the stereo, the grass stains polished by the hem of my carefully selected dress. Familiar objet d'art, necklaces, finger nail clippers and combs graced a doily-covered tv tray. The checkout counter sat high on the downstairs fireplace, the sooty screen serving as a sort of protective face shield, much as one would see in a pawn shop. Time spent at the Country Club pool playing magic carpet with a towel in the deep end could only fill up so much of the endless summer days.

The first customer arrived. Grandpa Varga. 

Wearing a white and aqua blue polo and bucket hat, I knew I was in for a sale. Grandpa Varga was a regular in my young life, even though he lived in Glendora, California. His face - my mom's face - looking down at me as I sat in his lap, watching the pictures come to life as he read me books in his blue, velvety chair, remains as clearly etched into my memory as the taste of my mom's spaghetti sauce.  His permanent semi-tan was now a deep, earthy golden brown against his high, bleach-white socks and khakis. Walla Walla was hot that summer, but that wouldn't deter Grandpa from chipping a few balls around the backyard.

"Well well well. What have we here?" He said.

On cue, I opened the fireplace screen, which I had taken the liberty of decorating with nail polish. "Welcome to Courtney's shop. Can I help you find what you're looking for?" This dress really was the perfect thing to wear today. Look-ing sharp. 

"Yes, I'm looking for my golf balls. Have you taken them?" He said as he surveyed the magnificence of the store. He picked up a Best Western emblazoned ballpoint pen, whose sticker read $1.50, in only the very best handwriting. He put it down and chuckled.

"We do have some golf balls in stock, yes. They are on the couch. Two dollars each."

"TWO dollars each? But aren't these from my shag bag?"  

I smiled. The dimple really has always been too much. 

"Well...let me see if I have the money." He fished in his wallet. "Is there tax?"

I can't believe he's paying me for his own stuff!!!! Shit. Tax. Right. That's extra money.

"Yes. With tax your total will be five dollars." I was a socialist from the start.

"Wow, I'd better stop asking questions!" He shook his head and laughed as he pulled out five. whole. one dollar notes. He turned to head outside, "Is this your grandmother's Good Housekeeping?" He picked it up.

$3.50 read the price tag.

"I'll let her find this herself."

"Thank you, grandpa!" I fingered the sueded dollar bills, still warm from his pocket. " Send Dad down, ok?"


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