December 10, 2011

Ummm... what is that exactly?

Bird nest soup? Really fresh eggs? A contemporary work of art?

This is a photo I snapped with my phone of a place setting of all things while at a very upscale retail store on an errand for the day job this week. The three foot tall Christmas tree as a centerpiece for the large round gilded table isn't what made me do a double-take. I know to expect the outlandish every time I'm there but even this went way over the top of unexpected and dare I say... why? As an old friend used to say, "Who does that?" It's not that I find it offensive or anything but the whole concept here is beyond my ability to appreciate the eclecticism of the designer. In short, this is too random, even for me.

And I'm pretty random. Not midnight snack leads to stolen car leads to waking up in a foreign prison random, but more "What's the point of white crayons?" random. Seriously, what is the point of white crayons??? Can someone please tell me? And while we're at it, why is it necessary to label things like plastic fishing worms and play-dough NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION? Or to include on the recordings for health care practitioners, "If this is a medical emergency, please hang up, and dial 9-1-1."
Sometimes the double-takes for me don't just happen with vivid depictions that common sense is not so common or extreme wealth is not necessarily an indicator of good taste. Sometimes the double takes are random musings in moments throughout my day that spin themselves into ideas for stories. Those are way more fun. 

I know for me, Stephen King describes it best as walking in the desert and seeing a chimney poking up out of the hardpan (go google it like I had to :-p). He knows he could dig the house out if he wanted to, and stories are the same way. This week a chimney poked out of the ground for me in the way of a strong premise for a contemporary women's fiction novel. Like the weird bird nest place setting, I kept being drawn to it against my will because it was just so strange. So I walked all around the chimney, took a few pictures, but decided not to dig that house up by trying to write that story. Contemporary really isn't my gig. Nor is women's fiction. Historical is what makes my heart sing and my fingers fly over the keyboard, but I liked the chimney enough to at least take a picture to remember it by. This is that snapshot... and if anyone else out there wants to dig the house up, go for it =) 

            The door to the women’s restroom opened and Amber hissed a sigh of frustration from inside her stall. She hit the end button and dropped her cell phone back in the pocket of her suit coat. Not only had this intruder aborted Amber’s call, but now she would have to wash her hands if she left first so she wouldn’t look like one of “those” people. In hindsight, the stairwell would have been a better choice for privacy to make the call she’d been dreading since four a.m. The click-click on the waxed linoleum signaled high-heels and she ran through her rolodex of who that might be. Priscilla, Mary Beth and Lexi would be the usual suspects but Priscilla called in sick this morning. Leopard print kitten heels came into view below the partitioned wall—Lexi’s shoes. Amber could have made two car payments for what that woman spent on those Salvatore Ferragamo shoes. Lexi loved to tell everyone what her expensive taste cost under the pretense of raving about “bargains” she found. When a swear word dropped more appropriate for the men’s bathroom in a trashy bar somewhere, Amber would have known it was Lexi even without the shoes.
            “Amber, is that you? Would you be a dear and pass me some bathroom tissue? This one is out.”
            The shoe thing worked both ways. Amber pointed the toes together of her black Payless pleather flats. Lexi was good, too good in fact. Bathroom tissue? That’s what stores print in the signs over their aisles. Real people call it toilet paper. Amber stared at the two ample rolls bolted to the wall at her side. One still had the thin strip of adhesive of a brand new roll, and she grinned.
            “So sorry, Lexi. I just used the last of it.”
            “Oh, well… thanks anyway.”
            “No problem.” Amber left her stall and turned the water faucet on for long enough to keep up appearances. She even pushed the button on the air dryer for good measure. As the door shut behind her, leaving Lexi to her own devices, Amber smiled bigger than she had in days. Next time Lexi should shamelessly flirt with someone else’s husband at the company Christmas party.

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