Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Shop Girl Party Plotters

If we only invited current staff to our belated Staff Christmas party, it would just be me and my mum.
Not much of a party.
So we invite past-employees. That means, my old school mate, P, and my neighbour.
My Dad comes and my neighbour brings his wife.
The preparations are in full swing when I arrive late with P, having been to the opticians.
“I met a very nice bloke for you today in the shop,” Papa announces.
“She’s already got one!” Mum calls from the kitchen.
My date has been away for over a month but I’m not looking for a replacement just yet.
“What about your cousin?”
“What’s he like?” I ask; the silly party mood taking over.
“He’s very nice,” Papa says, “I spoke to him for some time.”
This is breaking news. My dad isn’t a small talk man and has never been one to chat to young men. Perhaps the key is this young man is Spanish.
Either way, the idea of setting my cousin up is rather exciting.
“He’s coming tomorrow morning to collect a table lamp,” Mum says.
Brilliant, I think.
The next day I head into the shop and start cleaning.
I have all the picture frames in the middle of the floor when a young man comes in and tells me, in a Spanish accent, that he’s come to collect a table lamp.
“Yes, I was warned,” I say.
His collection is clearly marked which makes the operation all a bit smooth, leaving little opportunity for conversation. I suddenly worry that he’s going to leave without me extracting any information.
“Oh you met my Dad, didn’t you?” I say, scrabbling for something to say.
“Yes, you’re the traveller, aren’t you?”
I don’t know what my dad’s been saying but at least it gives an opening to talk. So I really go for it. Luckily he’s friendly and clearly not in a hurry to get away.
I’ve no idea how I’m supposed to get his number though. To make it worse, the shop phone doesn’t stop ringing and I keep saying I’m busy, which makes me look desperate to talk to him.
At one point I hear myself say, “Oh you live around here? Wow, we could meet up.”
And I can imagine my date despairing at this conversation because it sounds like I’m flirting.
But he's so easy to talk to and as lovely as my parents said.
By the time Mum arrives we are chatting about his hometown, the very place where my cousin and I were intending to go on holiday, and he’s inviting us to stay at his house.
And it’s all great and I soon mention I have a date so he no longer thinks I’m drooling over him.
Then a man walks into the shop and stares at the three of us.
Mum, my new best friend and I, stare back at him.
The conversation dies.
Everyone is waiting for me to recognise him.
I feel my cheeks turn red because now I remember.
The tension of the moment could only have been broken by an unexpected fart. I’ve no idea what he’s doing in my shop.
He’s someone I briefly chatted to in a passport control queue and mentioned I wrote a blog.
But I don’t know how he’s found me.
My cheeks are burning.
“Do you need any help?” Mum says.
“I’ve come to speak to your daughter,” he replies, calmly.
It pretty much goes downhill from there.
The Spanish guy makes his excuses and heads off.
I rush over to help a customer, leaving Mum to do the talking because the shock at being found like this has scrambled my brain and I’m feeling pretty bad-tempered.
To get over it, I make myself a strong cup of tea.

I think about upgrading my date to my boyfriend.
In fact, I think about a lot of things.
I look at the e-mail address scribbled on the back of a price label.
Now I'm really hoping the Spanish guy isn’t regretting inviting us because my cousin and I have just booked our flights.


Anonymous said...

awesome, i think you were right to write it. I like the brain scrambling.

Anonymous said...

I just spent over an hour at my desk reding all of your posts... they are great! Keep up the good work... really enjoying them! x