Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
...I awoke to hot breath invading my lungs and the feel of soft lips over mine. I could hear Athena saying something in the background and as my eyes opened I vowed to myself that if I found Lonnie giving me the kiss of life I flee to the remotest corner of the world and become a hermit.
“… he’s waking up!” Athena said.
A tender voice addressed me, “Are you ok Al?”
It took a moment for my eyes to clear, I groaned at what they found.
“Oh. Hi Joanna.”
“Man, good thing I was passing by huh?”
“Yeah,” I stood and dusted myself off; she kept her arm around me to make sure I didn’t pitch forward again. My skin tingled wherever her hand brushed. I stepped away as fast as I could, “I’m ok.”
Joanna had been a thorn in my side since high school; she was always talking to me and throwing smiles my way. She insisted on dancing with me at the senior prom and even worse tried to hug me after graduation. If that wasn’t bad enough I kept running into her every once in a while and it was always warm embraces and suggestions we get together sometime.
Like that was going to happen.
“You sure you’re ok?” Joanna asked again.
“I’m fine,” I refused to look directly at her, there was something about her dark eyes that kept me staring and I wasn’t having that. “What are you doing in Herkimer anyway?”
“College,” she said. “Don’t you remember, I told you all about it that time I saw you working at Empire Burger.”
“Yeah right after I gave you my address so you could drop me a line.”
“Oh,” I said, remembering that I couldn’t have thrown that address away fast enough.
She offered me a grin, “So I guess twenty dollar question is what are you doing here?”
I gestured vaguely “I sell pictures.”
“You work here?”
“Well I couldn’t sell pictures if I didn’t.” Athena was watching us talk, I was sure everyone was staring at me talking to her.
“You know,” Joanna tried to get me to look at her but I busied myself straightening a few Elvis portraits. “If you’re going to be in town we should get together, if this is what you do for a living I bet you’ve got some stories to tell.”
“Can’t. Too busy.”
“Oh. Ok,” she swooped in and gave me an unwanted hug. “You take care and if you keep fainting like that you should see a doctor.”
She got into her car and pulled away, when she waved to me I didn’t wave back.
Athena came over to stand next to me, “Who was that? She seemed nice.”
“Nobody,” I said. “She’s nobody.”
At this point in the story some of you newer readers might be wonder what the deal was with Joanna.
It’s simple, Joanna was guilty of the one unforgivable sin a woman can commit in American society- she was fat.
A woman can commit any number of cruelties or sins and find them forgiven or overlooked but if she puts on too many pounds she’ll suffer quiet scorn and snickering backtalk until her dress size returns to societal norms.
This kind of feeling was a learned behavior for me. It all began in high school when I dated a girl named Lizzie. This was after my Junior year pursuit of Lilly had ended in disaster. Lizzie had crazy eyes and a smile like a cat. We went out a few times and even started smooching. I was pretty happy with how things were going.
Then I brought her home for dinner.
Honestly folks I don’t think my family could have been more upset if I had brought home a bi-racial midget wearing eyeliner and a strap on.
And before you start wondering. No I never did. This is how rumors get started people.
Anyway after I had taken Lizzie home my family proceeded to ‘deprogram’ me. I was told that fat girls had weak moral character. I was told that much like goldfish they got even bigger after you married them. I was told that I would make the family a laughingstock.
I’m not sure how much more damage I could do to the family reputation after my stepfather had tried to run an ice cream truck off the road in a fit of rage but I was young and impressionable. I vowed from now on to stick to women that made catty remarks as they passed a Lane Bryant store.
Our stay in Herkimer continued and Athena and I ended up going to see the movie ‘Robocop’. It was sort of like a date except for the fact that Lonnie, Max, Conrad and Debbie were there and Paul had paid for everything with a bad check. Athena and I were enthralled by the Paul Verhoeven’s satirical and violent vision of the near future. Lonnie got confused, Conrad burst into tears and Max was more interested in hitting on the high school aged girls sitting in the row behind us. I’m not sure where Paul and Debbie disappeared to but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they were stealing copper wiring out of the walls.