Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Paper Hearts And A Red Haired Tart
It didn’t take me long to adjust to life at Scotia County Community College or as I liked to think of it, ‘High School 2: This Time It’s Matriculated’. I quickly learned to dodge Marvin and Corey in the halls but it seemed that Kevin’s schedule was the exact same as mine, in fact we even shared the same English and History classes.
A lot of the female student body took a real shine to me but unfortunately they were all returning students in their mid 40’s and early fifties. The girls my own age were pretty unimpressed by my relative lack of buffness and my mind bending theories as to how Wildcat could team up with the Creeper when the Creeper was a superhero from Earth One and Wildcat was a superhero from Earth Two.
Work meanwhile, work was just awful, the first week had been nothing but grunt work and mocking glares. At least the lunches were catered.
Mr. Palmer clapped his hands, “All right everyone, the pizza is here. Let’s break for lunch.”
“Pizza pizza pizza,” Kathleen, one of the greeting card ladies, groused. “Would it be so hard to order something else? You all know by now that I’m lactose intolerant.”
I gave her a smile, “That’s just what makes working with you such a gas!”
Everyone over twenty-five laughed at that one; my pier group however rolled their eyes in unison. “Dude!” the neckless wonder said, his name was Chuck by the way. “How is that funny? It doesn’t even make sense.”
“Yes it does,” my face reddened, I was never a good one for dealing with hecklers. “You see it was a play on words. Gas has multiple definitions and because Kathleen had just said lactose-”
“Do you know any good jokes?” Bud asked. He was Chuck’s pal with the anachronistic facial hair.
“Sure, sure,” I said.
Tallulah grimaced, “What have you done?”
I pressed on, “A cowboy was captured by a tribe of Indians...”
“Native Americans,” Tallulah corrected.
“Ok then,” I started over, “A cowboy was captured by a tribe of Native Americans. Instead of scalping him the chief of the tribe told the cowboy that he could go free if he could pass the three challenges of manliness-”
“So I guess these are challenges you’ve never had to face.” Karl snickered.
“-the three challenges were as follows. First he had to drink a quart of firewater all at once. Second heto had pull to a tooth from the mountain lion with a cavity they had chained up in a tent, and he had to do it with his bare hands. For the final challenge he had to satisfy a squaw that had never been satisfied by a man before,” I paused before I continued. I had baited the comedy hook, now I just had to reel them in, “So the cowboy took the jug of firewater and drained it in a single draught-”
“What’s a draught?” Chuck asked.
“He means all at once,” Tallulah said. Her eyes lingered on Chuck meaningfully.
“After drinking so much firewater at once the cowboy was a little woozy. The Ind- I mean Native Americans led him to the tent with the mountain lion. The cowboy staggered inside. Almost immediately chaos erupted from within the tent. It shook. There were shouts and roars but finally the mountain lion began to purr and the cowboy staggered out with his clothes all disheveled. He shouted ‘Now where’s the broad with the toothache?’”
Instead of laughter my punchline was greeted with confused silence.
Tallulah said, “I don’t get it.”
“Me either,” Chuck said, but he was looking at Tallulah when he spoke.
“Al, I gotta know,” Bud asked, “Are you a VIRGIN?”
Every other conversation stopped dead, all of the employees at Paper Shredder were looking at me to see how I would react. I remember my mind racing with the thought Say something witty. Say something witty. Say something witty. This is your last chance to win their respect.
“Well Bud,” I began. “Only my hairdresser knows for sure.”
A lot of people had a good laugh at my expense. Tallulah laughed the loudest of all. That hurt more than anything else.
And that was how I realized that in spite of everything I was developing a crush on her.