Once and Future Sales Associate Cont’d – Karen Uffelman
Arthur zipped up his plaid slacks, tucked in his turtleneck and buckled the belt he found in the back of the coat closet. The buckle was gigantic and brass, and the belt itself was an intricate braid of olive green leather. Arthur couldn’t figure out who might have put it in the coat closet, since it didn’t seem like the type of thing his mother would buy. It was a mystery that would have to wait for solving, however, as he was soon to be late for his first official day of work. The belt looked good with his pants. Regal.
“Did you eat some breakfast?”
“Yeah – yeah I did.”
“Don’t ‘Yeah I did’ me, Arthur. I don’t see a dirty cereal bowl in the sink and I’d bet my left arm that you didn’t wash one. You need to eat some breakfast, young man!”
“Jeez, Mom, I’m going to be late – I’ll have a piece of bread, okay?”
Arthur shuffled into the kitchen pulled an English muffin out of the bread box.
“What, you’re going to eat that without toasting it? Arthur, that’s disgusting.” Arthur’s mother’s eyes settled on his mid-section.
“No it’s not, Mom. It’s perfectly normal to eat un-toasted English muffins. They’re just muffins for English people, right? You don’t have to toast a muffin. I mean, if I were eating a bran muffin or a blueberry muffin you wouldn’t insist that I toast it, would you?”
“Where did you get that belt?”
“Um, I don’t know. I mean, I’ve had it a while. Gotta’ go!”
Arthur stuck the untoasted English muffin in his mouth, grabbed the felt cape and satchel he’d sewn himself for Halloween last year, and hurried out the door.
“Farewell dear Mother!”
“That’s not your belt, Arthur!”
Arthur let the apartment door slam behind him, skipped down the stairs and through the front door. As he strolled down the sidewalk he thought about possible strategies for raising the sales of medieval items at the toy store. Hosting a fencing match, perhaps? Or roasting a boar outside the store and giving away free sandwiches? Maybe have some fair maidens on hand? That seemed like a good option. Where to find fair maidens…
He was pondering this question when he ran into Emily Atterly, meanest girl in homeroom.
“What – is it Halloween and did everyone else forget?”
“I apologize, Emily, I’m on the way to my place of employment, which is just ‘round the corner, and don’t have time to entertain you.”
“Doesn’t take any time, you only have to walk by and I’m entertained. Is that a cape you’re wearing? And wherever did you find that stupid belt?”
Getting teased by Emily Atterly was bittersweet. She was mean, but she was also very attractive, in a 15 year-old, mean girl kind-of-way. If she was making fun of you, it also meant she was paying attention to you. Usually she was so mean that it wasn’t worth the attention – she was good at breaking her targets down. But her taunts didn’t have the desired effect on Arthur today. Instead of shoving his hands in his pockets and shuffling off, he threw his cape over one shoulder, crossed his feet and executed a James Brown spin, then made a little bow and said, “Fair maiden, capitalism is calling my name.” He turned with a flourish and was able to imagine an admiring Emily, watching him saunter off.
He was still daydreaming of Emily (not quite so mean in his mind) when he arrived at the toy store, and was totally unprepared for the onslaught of Cricket.
“Willkommen, Arthur. Put auf einer Schürze. Welches Vokabular Sie gelernt hat?”
“Um, I have an idea, Meine Frau,” Arthur felt very crafty for finally remembering some German, “what about roasting a boar on a spit in front of the store, and then giving away free sandwiches? And maybe get some local girl to dress up as Gunivere or Maid Marian. I may know the perfect candidate.”
“I think, junger Mann, that today is delivery day. So you can come up with as many great ideas as you want while you go to the basement and unpack boxes. And, by the way, please don’t address any of our customers as your wife. I don’t think they’ll like it any better than I do.”