Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Unreal Estate Agent

She had walked by this little storefront on her way to work in the haberdashery. When she'd applied for the job, she'd no idea what a haberdashery was. She thought it had something to do with meat. A flyer was posted on a lamp post asking for an assistant. She'd called the number and been offered the job before the call ended. The owner thought her voice was perfect for saying, "Good morning, Uptown Haberdashery, what kind of hat does your head need?" He had very specific ideas about how to get wrong numbers interested in hats.

Today was the 3 month anniversary of that conversation and her life had settled into an almost dreamy state of bliss. The haberdashery smelled fantastic, the pay was decent, and she could walk to and from work in less than 10 minutes. To top it all off, single men always seemed to crave something to cover their heads.

But in those 3 months of pedestrian commuting she'd never noticed this particular storefront. A dark green curtain hung behind the glass. An old fashioned globe sat immaculate on a dark wooden pedestal. In lettering so small she had to frost the glass with her breath, the words "The Unreal Estate Agent" was stencilled.

Her nose twitched and the faint scent of mesquite disappeared before she could place it. A discrete speaker drizzled some sort of clazzical elevator crap. Kashmir by Zeppelin? She couldn't say. Voices inside grew slowly louder as they approached the door. She had the strange impulse to shrink away, hide. Pulling her shawl around her she angled herself to the next door window and pretended to inspect religious pamphlets.

"Thank you so much for stopping in," a voice rumbled. "And I can't tell you how glad I am that you are happy in your new home."

Smoke and flute mixed in the reply. "A woman finds it difficult to trust. The thanks are mine."

Heels moved away.

"You don't really want to be reading that, do you?"

As she turned, she saw the buildings across the street in the window glass, a man stepping out of a shower through curtains, a cloud peeking over a fire escape, the globe on the pedestal behind those reflections, and finally the rumbler in the doorway.

"Come look at something before you go to work..."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Icon Do It

Leaving home was hard back when home could be left. Now you're born without a home so you can never leave. The only way we distance ourselves from our birthplace is through personal upheaval and pain. Used to be folks went off to college to experience another environment. Not anymore. Today you go to college to get your heart broken.

Whitworth was your average guy in high school. Meaning he was unique and anonymous. Girls liked him from time to time and occasionally he liked one of them back enough to ask her out. Things would get a bit hot and heavy in a cinema parking lot and then the girl didn't seem familiar to him anymore. Sensing this gap the girl would reveal more of herself, but that only heightened his disconnect. Then he'd go back to hanging out with his friends, who always seemed familiar, never changed.

Lots of sports on TV with pizza and soda. Waiting for everyone to fall asleep so he could be alone for a little while. Never having enough sleep. College would be different, he'd hear people say. He doubted the transformative power of higher education but longed to see what it was all about.

It sounds same-ol' same ol', but things were different then, only 20 years ago. Catching a glimpse of the naked female form was a big deal, people still got freaked out when musicians screamed instead of sang, and cable TV was a novelty NBC/ABC/CBS pooh-poohed. If you wanted to find out about a band, you had to ask someone who might know. The last truly local generation.

All of a sudden, college. Whitworth now longed to traverse the unfamiliarity that opened up upon physical contact with a girl. The girl seemed to be shocked by this transformation from her high school equivalent. Boys and girls walk around campuses in a constant state of shock at their first unedited contact with the opposite sex. Tragedy and lust now coexist with morning coffee.

Them brains and hearts is exploding all the time. Today? They've been ash and debris since age 3. Zero to sixty in utero. Oh these poor children and the world they'll always know.

Whitworth ordered his first legal beer with no ceremony and punched the window out of his Honda Civic a mere 45 minutes later. They said he couldn't go in there anymore but why would he want to hang out with a bunch of frat boys and coke sluts? He'd quit the whole damn shebang but these were the best times he was ever going to have.