Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Still Not Quite What They’re Looking For
Over the last few weeks of college I kept busy with my friends and to a lesser extent my classes; I managed to score high grades in English and History and cashed and burned at anything remotely resembling higher math.
I also worked hard to find a replacement for Tallulah but my luck with the ladies was just as bad as it was with quadratic equations but at least the girls didn’t make me show my work on a sheet of scratch paper.
“I mean it.” I pounded my fist on the student lounge for emphasis. “What the Hell? A D&D game where we travel through a portal to help the Nazi’s win World War II?”
Will sighed, “It could have been better.”
“Could have been better? The Hindenburg disaster could have been better! This was pure evil.”
"You were there too Al." Will said, "I didn't see you storm out."
In truth I had wanted to storm out but Orville being there had made me too self-conscious, as it was whenever I went to the bathroom I could just feel him making snide remarks behind my back. "Look maybe we should do something else with our time."
"You want to quit the game now?"
"Yes." I said, "Because all last session Curtis was castrating dead monsters and trying to learn how to make a flesh golem. I don't want to see where this is going."
"It's kinda obvious really."
"I said I don't want to."
Ginger joined us at the table, "Hello fellow scholars."
“Ginger.” I said, “How are we doing this afternoon?”
“Got my cap and gown for graduation.” She smiled, “It’s only a two year degree but it’s a start.”
Will nodded, “My grandfather is flying in to see me walk across the stage. Who did you invite to graduation Al?”
I had to look away, “I’m not going to graduate.” With all apologies to my parents I have to admit that in the end I had no graduation date because I had no date for my graduation. Now it isn't really Tallulah's fault this happened, she wasn't the one that was too busy feeling sorry for herself to take responsibility for her own destiny. That was all me dear reader and let me assure you that over the next few years this was a talent I would develop a mastery over. The ceremony was held at Proctor's theater in Schenectady and I wasn't sure if the graduating class was too large or if the venue was too small but I was sure that the Valedictorian's speech made no sense whatsoever- especially when she started quoting from Casey Kasem. I watched my friends march across the stage one by one wondering to myself if I had made yet another bad decision but I knew somehow my destiny lay elsewhere I knew that someday people all over the world would be reading my work. I mean sure there are only 50 or so of you but you are from all over the world damnit!
After the ceremony there was a gathering at Ginger’s home, where the cakes and coffees only served to accent the whole funeral atmosphere.
"I can’t believe you were there with us." She said. There were a dozen or so graduates of varying ages milling around her house, swapping stories and discussing short term and long term plans.
"But there’s so much more to learn." I mustered a smile, "Maybe I’ll go for a teaching degree or a master’s degree in performance art or Lovecraft Studies."
Will was eating a cupcake, vanilla frosting had gotten up his nose making him look like a coke addict with bad allergies, "I thought you were thinking about acting?"
"Well, kinda." I said and I will confess to you constant readers that one of my lost dreams was to act in a horror film, specifically I had wanted to be the slasher’s first victim. You know what I mean, the fat kid left alone at the campfire while all the other kids wander off into the woods to have sex. Sadly I am too old and bald to play such a part now but if any of you aspiring directors out there need someone to play a creepy janitor or deranged transvestite I could be just what you need. Call my agent.
Ginger placed a hand on my shoulder, "Well just keep at your studies. I thought I was going to take a year off from college and I ended up finally getting my degree almost twenty years later."
"Don’t worry. That won’t happen to me." If I hadn’t been too busy gnawing on a piece of stale coffee cake I might have heard the gods of irony laughing hysterically.
"I think I might get into teaching too." Pricilla said.
"There’s no money in that." Her boyfriend said, he was a man of equal parts rugged good looks and selfish two year old, so of course she was crazy about him.
Will on the other hand looked like he wanted to smother him with a doily. Just a few minutes of talking to the man made me want to help.
Her boyfriend said, "We’re not going to be able to get married like you want if you’re too busy being a full time student. It perturbs me."
"Well," I said, "What’s more important? Working to live or living to work?"
Ginger smiled, "What a great thought Al."
"Thanks." I preened, "I totally stole it."
Pricilla gave me a nudge, "Stealing material? You’re a real writer now."
Her boyfriend stared at his eighty dollar sneakers, "This conversation perturbs me. People work because they have to. The only people that enjoy their work are artists."
I poured myself a soda, "I’m not sure if Vincent Van Gogh would agree with you."
Pricilla said, "Well all I know is that we haven’t heard the last from you Al. I expect that one of these days I’m going to walk into a bookstore and find you there."
I shrugged, "Well I do work at a book store."
"That’s not what I meant you big goof." Pricilla gave her boyfriend a big hug, "What did I tell you about him? You should read one of his stories sometime."
Her boyfriend shrugged her off, "Hey you know what I told you about public displays of affection. They perturb me."
"You know," I said, "you could just skip ahead on your word-a-day calendar. No one would judge you."