“This place looks familiar. Have I been here before?” I innocently asked Henry.
When he said yes, it was all angry-sounding. I thought it was just because he was annoyed to be driving us out there, but then I later realized that it was a town where some dude who tried to steal me from Henry lived. No wonder Henry was so put-out.
After spending some time in Blackburn’s Pharmacy taking pictures of the cabinet full of old fashioned apothecary relics and getting asked constantly if we wanted to tour the showroom full of toilet seat raisers and walkers, we found Henry and Chooch emerging from some mysterious, dusty store with no name.
“What’s in there?” I asked.
“Stuff you’ll hate,” Henry murmured, tugging at his blue-collar while struggling to think of a word to play on Words With Friends.
Wanting to be my own judge, I shouldered past him and entered this horrible variety store that stank of hoarder’s perspiration, moldy newspapers and a flea market in a thunderstorm on a humid July morning.
“Told you,” Henry sighed behind me. But Chooch and Andrea had already been engulfed by the store’s innards, so I inhaled deeply (and immediately regretted it) and followed them into the bowels of the store, snagging myself on the old, rusty store shelves and praying that I didn’t wind up with tetanus. (I never realized that “anus” is in “tetanus.” I will now be thinking of that all day. And possibly drawing pictures.)
And then Andrea found a table of horribly tacky shoes in nauseating shades of orange and yellow, manufactured specifically for women to wear when visiting their men in the Joliet slammer.
I thought for sure Andrea would gravitate toward these jaundiced disco stripper boots, but she surprised me by snatching up a pair of Pee Wee shoes for nurses.
“You’re not really buying those, are you?” I asked, full of disapproval.
“Um, yeah!” she said. “They’re only $10!”
I don’t know, you guys; I feel like she got ripped off. They’re so stupid! Still, I was so worried she was going to forget to take them back to California with her. One less dumb pair of shoes in Pennsylvania!
Chooch and Andrea went off on their own and god only knows where Henry was — looking through bins of 1968 cookbooks and garden tools, probably — and that’s when it happened. I was walking down a cluttered aisle, half expecting that junk lady-troll from Labyrinth to come popping out with a handful of marbles and empty Spam tins for sale, when an image struck me in my periphery.
“Oh how cute,” I thought to myself. “A picture frame company that’s actually using intentionally funny stock photos!” I snatched one out of the cardboard box they were stashed in all haphazardly, and that’s when I realized that it was not actually a man dressed as a young girl on the day of her dance recital, but actually a young girl dressed as herself on the day of her dance recital.
Almost immediately, I found myself futilely fending off pee drops. I ran around the store, kicking up 85 year old dust and the stench of mothballs in my wake, until I found Chooch and Andrea.
“LOOK AT THIS,” I panted. “I’m getting it.”
And because they’re assholes like me, they both immediately laughed and gave my sweet find a giant thumbs up.
I ran back to look at the price and was shocked to find that it was only $1 (ONE DOLLAR).
For this gem? A buck? What a steal!
I ran past the giant collection of machetes and found Henry near the register, ready to buy a bottle of Mountain Dew.
“Here, you need to buy this, too,” I said all breathlessly, thrusting the boxed frame into Henry’s belly.
He looked at it and smirked. “You’re not serious,” he said in his Father Tone.
Of course he wouldn’t think it was funny. He doesn’t “get” things like this.
It was only supposed to be $1, remember, but the cashier charged him $2. He got all crotchety about this but I hissed, “Pay the broad, it’s worth it!”
I couldn’t wait to display it with pride on my desk that Monday, right in front of my kid’s picture and beautifully flanking my fangirl photo of Jonny Craig. I laughed every time someone would tentatively ask, “So…who’s that in the picture?” clearly wondering what side of my family bears Hispanic Amy Winehouse doppelgangers.
Most of my co-workers jumped on my wagon and a mutual appreciation for the awkward dancer was born. Of course there were a few people who said, “I don’t get it…” They can just go sit on a curb somewhere with Henry, drinking Mountain Dew and being boring and humorless.
Every time I feel sad or stressed at work, I look over my shoulder and laugh all over again. I’m so glad Andrea was here to experience this wonder with me. Andrea and her stupid shoes.