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Pretty Things Upstairs

March 3, 2011

I only went into the shop because it was one of the few open on President’s Day.  The sign said “Pretty things upstairs.”   Underneath, in smaller writing, the sign said “Open.”  How can one resist pretty things upstairs?  I opened the door.

Up the winding staircase I trod, over the wooden threshold, when my eyes beheld gold.  Sparklies everywhere, sinuous necklaces, gemmed rings, golden caules, silver tea goblets, myriad pins and buttons, but all glinting, all metallic, all expensive, bling.  Pretties indeed.

A Sample Pretty for Your Perusal

Amidst this King Midas wealth was a woman calmly sitting on a stool and munching on kale. Her brown flyaway hair was just past her jaw; she had mustard staining the corner of her lip.  Her clothes were comfortable and baggy and worn in that way that middle age women seem to do once they don’t much care who sees them or judges them for it.  She had glasses on a metal chain around her neck.  Her eyes were shrewd.

“Welcome.  Earrings are to the left, necklaces to the back wall, and everything on this table is three for $15.”  She went back to masticating her kale.  After a few more moments passed, and I had made the required perambulation around the shop, she asked, “What’ca been taking photos of?”

I looked down at the camera around my neck. “I got this really nice camera recently, from a friend.  So I am learning how to use it properly, just taking pictures of street signs and the like to test out aperture sizes and ISO speeds.”

She grunted.  I strove to keep the conversational ball rolling.  “Lunch looks good,” I commented lamely.

She grinned at me, green in between her teeth. “I only eat vegetables, and not much of that.  Food adds toxins to the body, a foreign substance, so less is more.  I am gluten intolerant; didn’t find out until I was in my thirties.  That’s why I was a bitch in my twenties, it was the gluten making me cranky.  I try to get my husband to eat better, but he likes his cow and bacon too much.  I wouldn’t put up with it normally, I’d divorce the asshole, but he has a big dick, so it’s worth it.”  She measured out the size of his penis in the air with her hands; it looked impressive, if a little improbable.

“That helps,” I replied.

“You want to date a guy with a big dick?  Date a Chinese man.  I have a friend who is kinda small, you know, short and thin boned and all that, and she seems to only date Asian men.  Anyway, large sample size at this point, let me tell you.  And she says that Chinese men have the largest dicks.  Then Koreans.  Then the Japanese.  They’re tiny.  Don’t waste your time on a Japanese man.”

“I didn’t know that.  I’ve never dated an Asian guy before.  Thanks for the heads up.”

“Sure, sure.”   She puts the container of kale behind her on the radiator. I pick up a pair of (fake?) ruby earrings, and try them on for size.  Too big.

“You ever see that show Firefly?”

I perked up.  Finally, a topic I could relate to.  “Yes!  I love that show.”

“The woman who played the whore-”


“-that’s the one, she plays an alien on another TV show.  She’s a damn fine actress.  I believe she could an alien.  She probably isn’t though; they don’t really care much about our kinds of TV.”

I stopped for a moment and tried to figure out whether she just told me that she believes the aliens are among us.  She kept on going.

“Now, tango dancers, in their frilly dresses, those ladies are aliens.”

I laughed out loud as I finally got it.  “Illegal immigrants?  Oh, when you said ‘aliens’ you meant, those people are illegal immigrants, for a second I was stupid, and I thought you meant alien alien.  Like green aliens.”

She looked at me.  “No, I mean aliens.  Have you seen the way Argentinian Tango women dress?  Like spangly, ridiculous whores.  What am I supposed to think?  But they dance great.  Really something.  Passionate, you know?”  She pulled a laptop out from her bag, and gestured for me to come closer.  I watched as she pulled up a video of two people tangoing for a competition.

She sighed as they finished, the woman wrapping her leg around the man’s waist as she dipped.  “That’s beautiful.  Want to watch another one?”

“I’d love to, but I should probably go.  Five for this, then?” I had picked out a chain from the the three for $15 table.

“Nah, you’re supposed to get three things for that deal, but we had a nice conversation, so I’ll give it to you for five.”  She took my money and put it in the till.  I picked up the golden chain and put it around my neck.

She nodded absentmindedly, and picked up her box of kale.  “Have a nice day now, take lots more photos.  And come back sometime.  We can talk again.”  So saying, she dismissed me, and I left the recesses of the dark little shop, with its cold, glittery, golden contents, and its interesting owner with her fly away hair.

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