O wad some Power the giftie gie us Tae see oursels as ithers see us!–Robert Burns
Sitting in church behind a well-heeled woman, Burns noted lice in her coiffure. History doesn’t tell us how the woman felt about this immortalization–or if she recognized herself–but Jack and I are going through a similar struggle. In preparation for our two-week Istanbul hiatus, we are writing a shop guide for Mark and Sally Smith, who are coming from Memphis to shopsit.
Mark says their friends alternate between “Oh, can I join you?” and staging interventions.
Wait until their friends hear about the shop guide. We find ourselves typing bald statements like “When Valkyttie gets angry she pees down the bathroom heat vent.”
Will they even read the rest, the tried-and-tested wisdom of our cleaning guru Heather, herself the owner of an angry kitty, plotting kitty, grrr, grrr, grrr? “Put a paper towel on the duster stick by the vent, swish-n-soak, then spray shaft with Heather’s magic elixir. Make sure it’s off first.” Or will they run in terror from a bookshop whose CEO is a pissing-mad eighteen-year-old Scottish cat clever enough to maximize effects?
Given corporate culture today, peeing down a shaft is not that bad, but having no boss is part of Mark and Sally’s fun. The place is yours: do as you will! The shop guide is assistance, not direction.
Jack and I wonder how they’ll react to the section “COLORFUL LOCAL CHARACTERS,” depicting (among others) the bald man with the spider tattoo wrapping his head. Fixated on Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker series, Spider Guy keeps saying “BEE-serk-ER,” like a French surname, despite Jack’s efforts. Six foot six, hands like banana bunches, Spider Guy picks up foster kittens and coos to them as he wanders the shop, kitty curled purring against his chest.
We have several local characters who talk without listening; we see them coming, adjust our conversation-o-meters to “stunned” and let it roll. Throw in a “yep, I can get that for you” and make them feel like royalty. All part of the job. I think of it as a computer adventure game set in real life.
But then there’s the back scratcher hanging in the kitchen. Without it, you can’t turn on the light. One night Bert got it in his mouth and Jack and I chased him through the shop, screaming, “Drop it! Don’t chew!”
Dog chases, there’s a thing. The guide tells how to recapture Bert and Zora should they slip out. [Equipment: two leashes, raisin-less breakfast bars, and a car key, kept in a Ziploc pouch at the back door.] It’s the kind of thing one doesn’t think twice about until explaining to someone else….
Really, Mark and Sally, you’re going to have a grand time. Honest!