Friday, July 02, 2010

The Chiropractor - Part 3

Part of the reason that the Hot Sun Gallery had no business was because it was on a side street which got little traffic. It also didn't have very much to sell, but at least we would have gotten more people browsing if we had been more visible. 

The Hot Sun was located in the middle of the side street, in the bottom of a long, two story building. The first floor of the building was a row of shops, except none of them were particularly good or interesting (also part of the problem). There was a German travel agent, a cleaners, a junk shop owned by a mean Indian lady who never organized any of her merchandise so that her shop looked like a yard sale threw up all over it, and a seamstress. The Seamstress was right next door to me and she was a real pain in the ass - another one of those people who acts like things are a much bigger deal and of greater importance than they actually are. She was a gossip and a busybody who really had nothing to gossip about. Her main topic of conversation was the guy at one end of the street who owned a furniture consignment and was a drunk, and the bodega at the other end of the street where a bunch of non-English speaking vagrants hung out on the sidewalk and scratched lottery tickets and drank out of paper bags. Both of these things enraged the Seamstress. I think it was because she was bored.

Of course I was bored too, but not bored enough that I wanted to listen to this woman prattle on about people I neither knew nor cared about.  I had other means of relieving my boredom.

First, before work each morning, I'd stop at the bodega and buy a paper. I'd spent a few hours working on the crossword puzzle.  Then I'd Windex the windows and front door and dust in case Harlan came in. Sometimes I would write terrible poetry on scraps of notebook paper. The rest of the time, I would just read. This is when I got into Harry Potter. I had heard so much about the series and I had so much free time that I decided to read the books and see what the fuss was about.

Mainly though, what I really craved was meaningful conversation with another human being.

Though Harlan stopped by, I couldn't engage with him. He wasn't friendly or interested in talking to me. When he visited it was just to see if I had kept the gallery clean and to drop off cool cds for me to play. This I enjoyed. Harlan, being a Hipster, had a lot of cool cds, but this was pre-iPod era and we had no computers anyway, so Harlan would purchase actual cds (haven't seen one of those in years now) and I would play them on an actual cd player. Being that this was 2001, Harlan was big into the Buddha Bar and Cafe del Mar collections, which I enjoyed listening to. It was a hell of an improvement from the "Back That Ass Up" soundtrack of the Bubblegum Kittikat.

Harlan's artsy chill-out cd collection made me feel better about myself in an incredibly superficial and ridiculous way. Although I worked in a shop the size of my bedroom and made minimum wage doing so, the job sounded really good on paper and I didn't particularly care about the reality of it. Whereas one cannot exactly put a positive spin on working in a strip club, I was easily able to cast this job in a good light and make it sound better than it was.

Sample Conversation BEFORE:

Date: So, uhh, what do you do?

Me: Umm, I'm a hostess at a strip club. But wait, it's a "Klassy" strip club! You know, with a K.

Date: Check please.

Sample Conversation AFTER:

Date: So, uhh, what do you do?

Me:  Well, I work in a high end gallery and am in charge of all art sales. Also, I listen to Thievery Corporation and Kruder and Dorfmeister ALL DAY and I often wear pencil skirts and pointy toed heels to work.

Date: Really? How fascinating. You must be very sophisticated and intelligent. Let's go have sex immediately.

In my mind, I was practically Charlotte.

I think Harlan suffered the same delusions of grandeur about owning the Hot Sun as I did about working there. One day he drove up in his enormous SUV and unloaded a small wooden table, which he set up in the middle of the shop facing the front door. Then he brought in two large cases of the most enormous bars of soap I had ever seen. They were almost the size of bricks and they were from Portugal. Luxo Banho. I spent at least an hour trying to figure out how to pronounce that before I gave up. But they did make the place smell nice.

"I'm introducing our new specialty gift division," Harlan explained, "Maxine saw these on a recent trip overseas and just HAD to market them in the US, so the idea was born. The Hot Sun Gift Division. Spectacular isn't it?"

And what could I do but nod? I worked for a man who called a table of huge bars of soap the introduction of a gift division.

The good news was that before, we sold absolutely nothing for weeks. Once we implemented our new gift division, we sold about five bars of soap, effectively ringing up a total of $60.00 in sales for the entire week. It was a sales record. With the money rolling in now, Harlan could buy at least three or four more cds of remixes from Ibizan djs.

The next week we expanded our gift division. In fact, it pretty much doubled in size. Maxine had discovered rooibos tea and had bought a case, which we stacked up next to the enormous bars of soap, so now we actually sold two items that I couldn't pronounce. Rooibos was even more of a mystery than banho.  Roy-bus? Roo-ee-boss? Ro-oy-bose?  Nine years later, I now know that "banho" is pronounced "bahn-yo" but I still haven't figured out "rooibos." Someone help me out here.

Unfortunately I was still dead bored. One could only stack and restack soap bars and tea boxes so often. I even played Jenga with them a few times.

But then I met The Chiropractor.

The second floor of the building which housed the Hot Sun was a mystery to me. I knew there were some offices. There appeared to be a very shady telemarketing, boiler room operation going on in one of the second floor spaces. This was evidenced by the large number of shady, unprofessional looking individuals who gathered on the sidewalk wearing shiny, pleated slacks and silky dress shirts, who chained smoked and gesticulated wildly while exclaiming about "Spiffs."

Directly above the Hot Sun there was a mysterious looking Chiropractic office. It didn't say the doctor's name or anything else other than "Chiropractor" and the upstairs window, which I'd sometimes glance at as I Windexed our front door, was hazy. From what I could see there was a wilted stick of Bamboo struggling in a glass, something resembling a small gong, some I Ching coins and several ancient looking medicine jars in various colors from cola to cobalt. It always reminded me of a place one might go to get a Mogwai. I imagined a small, Yoda-like Chinese man hobbling around up there cracking necks.

But I was wrong.


Raven Davis Chitalo said...

Love the Mogwai line!!

And Rooibos is pronounced "Roy-bohs", at least that's the way they said it in South Africa, where it comes from.

Anonymous said...

Dear WL,
I hope you're feeling well and healthy. Hurry up with this story already, Sorry to be such a nag.
Lil Skraps

Anonymous said...

well being from South Africa and Afrikaans speaking, You pronounce the R, like we do in Afrikaans so its a rrrr sound with your tongue moved more to the front of your mouth, So Rrrr-oy-bo-ss, most english people prefer to call it redbush, we use it in EVERYTHING, from skin to bum cream to bathing in it, to food :) Just love your stories !!

Melanie said...

Oh man! I just can't wait for the rest of the story!

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