Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Shop Girl Hollowed Out


Perhaps because I dropped out of university I think there’s something I don’t know.
I don’t know what it is I don’t know or if I’ll ever know.
At university the other students spoke in tongues. They used words like ‘dichotomy’ and ‘contentious’ on a normal day-to-day basis. They could be buying a cucumber in a supermarket or queuing for the loo in a pub.
Those words still won’t come out of my mouth.
Not knowing words makes me uncomfortable.
Being Spanglish makes the hole of missing words even bigger.
In the shop I get lots of Spanish speakers and there are things I don’t know how to say.
For instance, ‘you need to tighten it up with an allen key mate’.
How do you say that in Spanish?
I suppose if I hadn’t been around the shop so much maybe I wouldn’t be able to say that in English either.
Is it Allen or Alan? And more to the point, who is Alan?
Then I feel like a fraud; I’m not Spanglish after all. I’m just a Brit who likes chorizo and has a lisp.
I wish it wasn’t so important but I can’t help it.
When I lost my Spanish ID in a club last Friday I mourned my lost identity for two hours. And then someone handed my wallet in to the bouncer and I felt complete again.
But I actually meant to write a Halloween blog.
Mainly so I could show off the pumpkins me and the date hollowed out on the weekend. It’s the first pumpkin I’ve ever done and I’m proud of it.
It’s not exactly a family tradition; my grandma gave my mum a swede when she was little.
“It was like carving out a carrot,” my mum says.
I light the pumpkins and put them in the shop window. A group of scruffy school kids press their faces up against the glass to get a better look; it’s the scariest thing to happen all day.
That is, until about 4 o’clock.
I know the woman. She’s already put a deposit on a big crystal chandelier.
She comes in and stares up at it.
It’s crystal with silver details.
“Everything in my house is gold,” she says. “It won’t match, will it?”
I don’t want to lose the deposit but this light is definitely not gold.
“I’ve got gold curtains, gold door handles, a gold mirror...” Midas continues.
“Well,” I say,“in our house we’ve got a bit of everything. We’ve got gold wall lights, a chrome floor lamp, a bit of antique brass...”
“Oh,” she says, nodding. “That’ll be alright then.”
I didn’t say our house looked good.
Her husband, who has been lingering on the door step, stubs out his cigarette and comes in with their pit bull.
“There’s not much silver on that,” he says, “It’ll be fine, love.”
The dog disagrees and vomits over the floor.
“Oh, that’s not like him," the woman says, bending down to stroke him. "Are you alright Tel boy?”
My stomach is convulsing. I cover my mouth to smother the awful retching noises I'm making.
The woman turns to me.
“Have you got a tissue darlin’?”
I can’t even look in her direction. I run off, still retching, to get some kitchen roll. She wipes up the orange mess. They must’ve been feeding him Chicken Tikka.
Then I catch sight of my glowing pumpkin.
It couldn’t have, could it?


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