Sunday, August 29, 2010

More Tales From the People Aquarium

Tonight, while I was at work, when it was getting late and business was winding down, a couple of kids to whom I had already sold tickets came back up to the window. "Hey, can I get your number?" One of them asked. His friends started to crack up. I was taken aback.

"My number?" I confirmed.

"Yeah," he said. "They don't think I got swag." Those were his words. I swear.

"Uh, no, sorry," I said. His friends laughed at him, and they retreated around the corner, embarrassed. They stayed there for a long time, and every once in a while one or two heads would poke around the corner, only to catch me watching them. Finally, another scout (who looked to be the youngest of the group) was sent up to the window.

"Hey," he said. "I'm supposed to ask for your number. Just write down something fake." That was exactly what I did. Scribbling a 555 number on a blank ticket, I handed it to him, told him to give it to his friend, that I'd changed my mind. That kid was so happy when he thought he'd gotten my number, I almost felt bad. It didn't help that all his friends were in on it. But, I thought, he was happy, so what difference did it make?

A few minutes later, we closed, and I collected my things and clocked out. As I was headed to my car, I heard, "Yo, this number is fake!" behind me. I was surprised by how vulnerable I felt, without the protection of the big wacko-proof window between me and these kids. They were all younger than me, and none of them was particularly threatening, but I was nervous. I was halfway to my car when the smallest sprang from the curb and intercepted me.

"I know they're all over there acting like a bunch of idiots," he said quietly, standing a little too close to me. "When I'm over here tryin' to actually get your number."

Towering over him, I raised my eyebrows, amused. He was probably a foot shorter than me. "How old are you?" I asked, trying to keep the incredulity from my voice.

"Thirteen," he said.

"I am too old for you," I said with finality, and left. But I waved to them as I drove by.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Walk in My Shoes

Today, I cleaned out my closet. As part of this bold and dangerous adventure, I threw out many pairs of shoes. Some, I was more than happy to see go. For example, the devil-shoes that gave me purple knots on my feet after a long day at an amusement park received a swift punt to the trash can and nothing more.

Others were more difficult to part with. One pair of flip-flops have had one foot (no pun intended) in the garbage for about a year, but I could never bring myself to throw them out. They went on my concert band field trip to a music festival freshman year, played football, been on many an adventure to the lake, come between my feet and scorching sand at the beach, as well as countless other expeditions I am failing to remember.

Also among the throw-aways were a brand-new-this-year pair of Charlotte Russe flip-flops that fell victim to a rainy day at Disney world. The poor fellas never had a chance.

I will especially miss the Converse knock-offs that went on a backyard adventure with my siblings and good friends. We made boats out of twigs and grass, then cheered them on as they floated down the creek, rescuing them when they got caught in floating forest debris. The shoes were so dirty afterwards that we threw them in the washing machine. (That works, by the way.)

I said goodbye to the flip-flops I took to Mexico, and the sneakers that got me through two seasons of marching band practices. I bid farewell to the most comfortable pair of dress shoes I have ever owned, and the black ballet flats that have cleaned almost as many theaters as I have, and stayed late on all those school nights sweeping the concession stand.

They were good shoes, but to put them through anything else would be cruel and unusual at this point. May they rest in peace.