Friday, 19 August 2011

Sandals and a Strobe Light

  My mission today was to buy a strobe light (for making David Lynch/Twin Peaks like creepy video) and some sandals. You see, every summer, I put on last year's sandals, and by late July or early August, from wearing them every day, they start to crack across the bottom, and eventually will break right in two if you keep walking on them. A rhythm has started up by which the sandals always need to be replaced in late July or in August.
   So, this year I put it off a bit, and went a' sandal buying after recording Mindy in the city. Everyone had assured me that, if I wanted to buy things like black lights or strobe lights, I needed a "head shop," (which is really a bong shop.) Radio Shack/The Source no longer has things like that.
   Mindy took me to a head shop right by her place. Smoke Dreams. The woman behind the counter, when asked if they had strobe lights or that kind of thing said very distinctly "no," like that was insultingly stereotypical. She just had a store-full of bongs, banana-flavoured rolling papers, vaporizers, incense, various things made of hemp, and a whole lot of lighters, belt buckles and knives.
   Mindy assured me that Rock Junction on Rideau Street would have one. I took my leave of her and walked up there. They had one entire room full of colourful bongs (and bongs everywhere else, too) and Doc Martins and t-shirts, knives and belt-buckles, but no trippy lighting equipment. 'Try Happy Daze in the Rideau Shopping Center' was their advice.
   So I did. "I can buy sandals!" I told myself, as I navigated what appeared to be some Mennonites, furtively poking at people with gospel tracts without looking any of said people in the face at all, trying to actually give them the tracts without their faces having been seen. As usual, the guys were dressed like upwardly-mobile Harvard types, and the women more like Little Cult On The Prairie.
   I went into Payless Shoes, where I'd gotten some Airwalk sandals the previous year. "Oh, we've taken them all off the shelves. It's August, you know..." the girl said with mild reproach.
   "That seems rather premature, considering the temperatures out there.  It's actually pretty friggin' hot" I said, with slightly less reproach than she had used.
   "True. Well, I don't know why, but it's how retail works. We're always kinda a couple of months ahead. I'm not sure why, exactly" she said, with furrowed brow.
   "It's called greed" I said mildly. "Reaching ahead for the next big dollar and tripping over the month they're actually in. Nortel did the same thing on a bigger scale, and they're pretty much out of business now. You gotta take care of this month before you get to move on to more money later."
   "Really" she said, somewhat amused at my silliness. "I guess that's true."
   I took my leave of her and stopped at Happy Daze, found a strobe light, asked them about it, so they got it out of the box to demonstrate it and it didn't work. The girl asked a male staff to get her another, and he wasn't moving very quickly, so I grabbed one from the shelf behind me and gave it to her. It worked. I bought it.
   At Footlocker, I interrupted the conversation the two ref-dressed young guys were having to ask about sandals. I got the dude's version of the exact same, reproachful "It's AUGust, dude!" lecture and pointed out that it was still frickin' hot out today.
   "True dat. Tell you what," said the one guy. "Go to Latellier and ask for Jess. She's the blonde one. She's really good-looking."
   I said I would and set off. When I arrived, I was dismayed. Everything in the store was brown, with occasional bursts of flamboyantly gaudy beige. Birkenstocks were in a place of honour. They actually had some sandals, but they were on a Clearance Rack and were getting pretty sparse. A beautiful black-haired girl wearing no brown or tan at all came out and asked if I wanted anything.
   "I would like a pair of sandals which are not brown" I said.
   "Umm, so that would make them black?" she asked.
   "Not exclusively" I said.
   "Well, we only have what you see here," she replied, and then gave me a little reproachful lecture about the naked folly of trying to buy summer clothing in August. She said "That's how we do things in retail. We fill the back with things ready for the next couple of months, and so things aren't really summer in here anymore right now."
   "I think that's called reach exceeding grasp" I said almost testily.
   She understood that, and giggled, so I decided she was smart as well as stunning, and that I liked her.
   I said I was too old and too messianic-looking to carry off brown sandals.
   She expressed confusion.
   I said I was middle-aged, and a high school teacher, but I saw no reason to wear powder blue golf shirts and tan pants all the time, with brown sandals and socks. She giggled.
   We found a pair that were Rockports, which were a bit more 'dress sandals' than I wanted, but my dress shoes are Rockports, so I caved. "Those are almost brown, but I'll take them" I said.
   "Those are absolutely brown" she agreed and went to get what she called "the mate" to the one we'd agreed upon.
   At this point, a brittle-looking bleach-blonde, short-haired, toothy, skinny girl asked if I needed help. (She wasn't wearing any tan or brown either.  Unless she had Birkenstocks lingerie)
   "I'm looked after" I said. "I got referred here by a guy at Footlocker who said to ask for you. Said you were The Good-Looking one. I think he likes you."
  "That would be Josh" she said, and turned away in pleased embarrassment. I thought maybe she was going to go to her locker and scream "ohmygodOhMyGod!" to her friends.
   'My' salesgirl came back, and told me that Josh was Jesse's boyfriend, and while ringing my stuff up asked me about being a high school teacher, and how much patience I must have (I said that, whenever kids try to be annoying, I have the utmost confidence, given years of experience and the authority vested in me, to effortlessly be far more annoying than they can ever hope to be. I was outlining just this strategy for classroom management when over my shoulder, dressed from head to toe in a rainbow of beiges with occasional bursts of flamboyantly gaudy brown, was my Vice Principal. "Oh, and this is my Vice Principal" I said gesturing at her and heading toward the door with my brown sandals and strobe light.
   The Vice, not accustomed to seeing me outside of my proper classroom, school and city, looked up in characteristic disoriented confusion from some brown shoes she was eying in a way many a mouse would recognize.
   "Hi!" I said. "I was just agreeing that being a high school teacher requires patience."
   "Oh, it does!" she agreed, pleased to understand something. "It certainly does..."
   "See ya!" I said and left.

No comments: