I was brushing my teeth when my phone started ringing; it was Will, he was outside. I quickly spit, wipe my mouth with my towel, and glance at myself in the mirror. I frown at my reflection. If selling it to a customer, I would have described the jeans as slightly distressed and low-slung on the hips. The sweater was a deep V-neck in cranberry, with a white button down underneath, with the cuffs flipped. I totally love this look. It’s great, kind of timeless. But for some reason, on me, today, I felt frumpy. ‘Oh well’ I think as I grab my Banana Republic pea coat from the hall closet and pull the door shut behind me.
We head for his moms house, a few miles away from ours. I think Will liked the idea of being close if she needed any help. And I’m pretty sure that completely upset my mom. Of course, my relationship with my mom is a totally different story; one with many complications and few possible solutions.
We sit and stare at the menu, despite the fact that every time we come here, we each get the same thing. Will has the sour cream enchiladas, his mom has chicken quesadillas, and I have a taco salad, with ranch on the side. Will makes fun of me, he thinks I eat ranch on everything. And although I may never admit it to him, I probably do, short of desserts. As a kid, I would eat it on bologna sandwiches, which thinking about now makes me want to cringe.
I break my chips in half and dip them into the salsa sitting in front of me, and started telling the story of the lady that called me yesterday. She wanted a Hearthfalls, and had seen it on HGTV, but only wanted to pay $200. It took almost thirty minutes to explain to her that the shipping was more than that. I mean, having several slabs of marble delivered to your home wasn’t the same as having the shoes you bought on ebay brought over. We don’t deliver via FedEx. And when I began to get into the cost structure of the one she wanted, and, well, that color was twelve thousand dollars! I sighed and continued dipping my chips. I never thought I would be selling ridiculously overpriced home décor pieces. And I have sold several. And with the average cost of a unit being almost two thousand dollars, I really don’t think that’s too shabby. I designed a flyer that outlined everything we had in stock, and discounted the prices. I sent them out to anyone who had requested information in the last four months. I told them it was a ‘limited time offer,’ and suggested they get their orders in now. I was blown away by the response. I thought that maybe I would be able to save this company. Maybe me, tiny little one person with too much education could turn this place around. It was doubtful. The owner has been out of the state pretty much since I started. I have seen him a handful of times. The majority of which were spent with him at a Sam’s grand opening. Where we set up a display until 2 in the morning, and then came back at 8 for the opening of the store. It was fun, but we didn’t sell any. I came back here, and he went down to Florida for the next Sam’s opening. At that point, we still had a legitimate office, so I got dressed and went to work like a normal person. I even had a co-worker. Leah and I would answer the phones, sort the mail, and just sit around and gab the whole day. It was fun. And she had an over-exaggerated title as well. She was the Marketing Coordinator, and only had a year of school under her belt. Our boss liked to fill his office with cute girls with fancy titles. And we let him, because it was a pretty easy job.
Until the week we got a call from him saying that we needed to pack up the office. While he was in Florida, he ran into a friend from elementary school and she was going to be coming into some money very quickly. So he caught up with her very fast. What Leah and I didn’t know was that many of the bills were going unpaid. And for quite some time. His brother showed up with a truck, and we started loading everything into it. The desks, the phones, the cute map I had made with color-coded stick pins to indicate dealers in each state, and even the break room cabinets. We packed for three days. Some of the units in the storeroom went, and some of them stayed. There were things everywhere, tools, accessories, supplies, and just plain junk. And in the end, it was another phone call that forced me to get rid of the last little bit of baggage – Leah. Even though she had worked here longer, trained me on what to do, and knew more about the history of the business, the choice was clear to have an MBA run your business opposed to a girl who was yet to finish her first degree. Between this and the one lady who calls all the time, I was beginning to think that my boss didn’t really like confrontation. I forwarded the phones to my house, and drove away with a computer, printer, fax machine, a box of files and a few random supplies. I still had my job, and was holding on by a thread. Maybe things would get better, maybe we would be able to pay off the company debt and get it back afloat sooner, hopefully rather than later.
I blink hard, realizing that I was still sitting at the dinner table, completely ignoring the accounting story his mom was telling. Our waiter walks up and thankfully interrupts the story. We sit in silence as we eat our meals. “Oh, did you tell your mom who came to your work last week?” I ask.
“Um, no.” He says, taking a drink, “Bill Clinton was at the course, playing with a member. And he hadn’t planned on playing golf, so he didn’t have any shoes with him. And he needed a size 14, and I’m the only on there who wears that size, so I got mine out of the car.” He laughed. “Some of the bag boys stole his tee sheet and had him autograph it.” He said, as he shakes his head. “He’s not a bad guy, but I hate when he comes, the stupid secret service guys just stand around in the shop and I have to entertain them. Or they act like anyone even cares. I mean, this is Clinton country; nobody’s going to hurt him here. He might need bodyguards in other places, but not here.”
“Did you get him to autograph your shoes?” Beth asks.
“No. They’re black shoes, and we only had black pens, so you wouldn’t be able to see it.” I wish I’d had a white out pen or something; I would have had him sign them. I probably could have sold them on ebay.”
I laugh at the thought of an ex-president signing a pair of shoes. I debate telling my “Jermain Taylor story,” but don’t, Will has heard it so many times, and I’m pretty sure my JT voice gets on his nerves when I get to the part where Jermain is shocked that I don’t know who he is and he says, “You don’t know me? Jermain Taylor. The boxer?” As he puts his fists up in a mock boxing stance. Sadly, I had only known him as one of the whales, a shopper who spends a lot of money. A shopper that someone else claimed as theirs. But this was before he was the middleweight champion of the world. This was back when he was only the Olympic gold medalist, which, was still impressive. But no, I didn’t know him, and yes, I asked to see his ID to verify his thousand-dollar purchase of clothes. He was a little offended, but produced it anyway.
We finish our dinner in mostly silence. Will talked about the four-ball tournament coming up, and how he swears it will be his last. We pay at the front and head back to his mom’s house to drop her off. Will and I come in for a few minutes to say hi to the dog. Tilly is thirteen years old. She’s a funny dog, part dachshund, part corgi; I think you call it a dorgi. She is very calm and well mannered. Wills brother, Sam got her from a girlfriend when he was in high school. They broke up and he really didn’t want her anyway, so Beth took her. She loves that dog. Probably because it’s all she’s got.
We say our goodbyes and head back to our house. Not too bad of a day, at least I managed to get off the couch for a few hours. Will practically pulls his pants off as he walks in the door, like they are burning his flesh. I laugh at his boxers with the eggs and sausage all over them that I bought him before I quit. I sit in my chair debating staying in my cute outfit for longer, knowing that it completely bothers him when I stay fully dressed – especially the shoes. He really hates when I wear my shoes in the house. Not because of the carpets, but because he is convinced that nobody could ever be comfortable when dressed in normal clothes. He wears gym shorts, T-shirts and socks around the house. And I am perfectly comfortable in jeans. And a button down shirt and sweater. Shut up, I’m totally normal. I decide not to antagonize him and go change into some sweats and a T-shirt. I’m pulling the T over my head as I walk into the living room. Will is on the phone.
“O.K., we will be right there,” he says as he clicks his phone shut.
“What’s up?” I ask, noticing the worried look on his face.
“Tilly jumped off the couch and hurt herself. We need to go back and check on her.”
“Oh, is she OK?” I ask as I slip on the flip-flops I had left by the door a few days earlier.
“I don’t know. She was kind of freaking out,” he says as he grabs my keys from the hook.
We ride the few miles in silence. We pull back into the driveway we had left only fifteen minutes earlier and jump out of the car. Inside, Tilly is on the floor, sitting down, with her back legs kicked over to the side. She sees us walk in and tries to come over to us. She pulls herself by her front paws. Beth is sitting on the couch crying. “I just went into the kitchen for a few minutes, to get a drink, and I left her on the couch. She jumped down to follow me and –“ she breaks off.
Brad reaches down to pick up the dog and she yelps in pain. He leaves her on the floor. She keeps pulling herself in a circle, wanting to be a part of the excitement, not realizing that she is the excitement. I lean down and pat her on the head. “What should we do? Can you call the vet?”
“No, we can take her in the morning, but nobody’s there right now.” Brad says, leaning down to get a closer look. “She doesn’t look like she’s in pain right now, but she’s definitely not using her back legs. The right one’s been giving her trouble for a while now. I don’t know what happened.” He shakes one of her back legs and she snaps at him, more of a threat than an actual attempt to bit him.
“I don’t think she should be moving around,” I say. “Should we put her somewhere so she can’t move around?”
We find a laundry basket and fold up a big, comfy blanket in the bottom. Will carefully picks her up and places her in it.