Thursday, February 25, 2010

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

Here's a character originally from a tweet tale that I keep thinking about. She worked her way into my NaNoWriMo attempt, and has been sitting in the green room, waiting for her turn to take the stage again, tell a tale or two. Not that this one is the story she wants to tell, but she'll bide her time, wait patiently for her next call-back.

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

Isadora stroked the shaft on the Bounty Hunter Quicksilver Metal Detector with LCD Display. Just the name sounded exotic, fun, adventurous. She looked at the yellow, crooked-smiley-face with its declaration of a 'roll-back' price and sighed. Rolled back or not, Dora couldn't justify spending over $300 for what would amount to be a hobby item. She turned her attention to the Bounty Hunter Lone Star Hobby Metal Detector with Free Pinpointer. Only $180. It looked cheap, a meager imitation of the more powerful, sleeker Quicksilver.

The clerk in the boxy blue vest stepped beside her. His name tag announced Billy-Bob. "That's a fine model right there. I got me the Lone Star and let me tell ya, not a day goes by that I-ah don't apree-shee-ate its powers of loca-tie-za-tion. Just last month, my wife Bessy—she just as purty now as the day I stole her from her daddy—she lost the ring I gave her for our twentieth. Not that it's the queen's jewels or nothin' but it has centy-mental value. Anyhow, Bessy gits herself in all a-tizzy, sayin' how she can't live with herself if she lost this token of our undyin' commitment and her finger feels empty without it, empty as my heart will be… you know wimin when they work 'emselves up over nothin'. Well I says to my Bessy, 'don't worry, the ol' Lone Star will loca-tie-zate your ring' and I fire it up and sweep the back yard and wouldn't you know it, as I git near her prize-winnin' Jet City tomater plants it starts abuzzin' up a storm and right there, under them there stalks is her ring! Yessirree—pardon me, yessama'am—you'll do right by the Lone Star."

Isadora nodded, a little dizzy. "Thanks for the advice, Billy-Bob. Just a-lookin'." Isadora turned from the metal detector display, stuffed her wrist into her mouth to stifle the giggle that teased her throat. It just slipped, after listening to his patios. She sighed. Ray was home, waiting for "his Dora" to bring him his Preparation H and Cherry Garcia; she didn't have time to chit-chat about lost rings or consider metal detectors, of all the frivolous things in the world. Isadora snorted, thinking about how she'd laughed at those head-phoned geezers at the beach, with their socks and sandals and dangling tote bags, digging in the sand for a meager thirty-five cents and maybe a teenager's lost retainer. Why did the instrument of the most laughable hobby in the world inspire such a sense of adventure? Because she was bored. Sweeping beach sand had to be better than sniffing 'new & improved' seaside-breeze-scented air fresheners.

When had she become the good-wife-"Dora"? Growing up, she had been "Izzy".

"Izzy" did things. "Izzy" climbed to the top of the monkey bars, even though she almost peed her pants. "Izzy" smoked a cigarette in the woods behind elementary school. "Izzy" kissed a boy at the junior high dance on a dare, before any of her friends had even held hands with the opposite sex.

The "Dora" part of her brain reminded her that "Izzy" got pregnant at sixteen, talk about adventure. "Izzy" reminded "Dora" that only dowdy women shopped for hemorrhoid creams and punny foods and spent their days generating false enthusiasm for whiter-whites and gleaming-grout and their nights living vicariously through shallow people confessing to reality show cameras.

Isadora pushed her shopping cart past a display of pepto-bismol colored shorts and thought those look comfortable. She stopped, stared at the yards of terry cloth and something inside snapped.

No more comfortable clothes or medicinal creams or bleach alternatives or plug-in air-fresheners. No more predictable. No more DORA. IZZY was spontaneous. IZZY lived in the moment; let future IZZY deal with consequences.

Isadora raced her shopping cart back to the metal detector display, justifying that she could sell her finds on E-bay, earn back the cost. She picked up the Lone Star (powers of loca-tie-za-tion!) and put it back. No. She didn't want to find lost rings under "tomater stalks." She fumbled through the Lone Star boxes stacked above the display until she revealed a capital Q. "Izzy" placed the Bounty Hunter Quicksilver Metal Detector with LCD Display in the shopping cart and hurried to check-out, before "Dora" reprimanded about melting ice cream.

27 comments:

Carrie said...

This was fun. Great characterization on the dialogue. Love your style!

ThomG said...

The things we want vs. the things we should do. It's an age-old tale. Caution vs. blowing caution to the wind.

This so strikes a cord with me and my current situation. ThomG the respected journalist vs. Gabby who did things. It was almost tough to read.

(oh, one catch - last graph, you've got cold and should be could.)

pegjet said...

Thanks for the typo catch, Thom. It is now fixed.
Carrie, thanks for not only for the compliment, but for reading this so quickly and retweeting the link!

Jay Thurston said...

This conjured a vision of an angel and a devil sitting on opposite shoulders, stating their cases with persuasion into respective ears. Very fun piece of an inner dialogue, loved it!

Laura Eno said...

Go Izzy! I guess we all need Dora to maintain, but it's Izzy who lives. ;)

Julie Jordan Scott said...

Loved this, a lot. I wish more people grabbed onto their Izzy and showed her how to also cultivate Dora rather than keeping them isolated from one another.

Great writing, thoroughly fun...

Dee Martin said...

I am so there with Izzy. so. there. I'm the last person to notice a typo and probably wouldn't have seen it except it cracked me up - patois LOL. In his case patios may have been more appropriate. Now I'm wondering what Izzy is going hunting for...

Andy Sewina said...

Nicely done, I like the patois dialog and the way you get Billy Bob to sell her the idea, and her little reply that just slipped out.

Hello Izzy, goodbye Dora!

Thomma Lyn said...

Oh, I loved this. Funny, poignant, heart-tugging. Great job with characterization and interior monologue! Isadora -- both Izzy and Dora! -- springs to life. :)

Linda said...

Our true self versus the face we put on for the rest of the world. Sometimes I feel that way as a writer... Loved the image of hubbers waiting for... Preparation H and a carton of Cheery Garcia! What a combo! Snorted out loud on that one, Pegs. Peace, Linda

bunnygirl said...

You deftly illustrate how we settle over time. How to stay true to our own sense of fun and adventure while not doing anything too ridiculous...that's the conundrum.

jason evans said...

You handle character very richly. I liked it! They are quirky enough to draw my attention without going overboard.

thebokchoy said...

You have a really great style and some really great prose to go along with it.

John Wiswell said...

"Isadora stroked the shaft on the Bounty Hunter " is by far the dirtiest, even if accidental, opening you've ever written, Peggy.

Alright, I'm sorry! But I had to!

Tumblewords: said...

Long live Izzy!

Michelle said...

good prose - well written :)

Man Island said...

lots of fun and well written. I understand the overpowering allure of the metal detector ... and reading your story makes me want one even more., and a pair of socks to go with my sandals while I'm at it.

G.P. Ching said...

A Quicksilver metal detector is cheaper than a divorce. This one was so easy to relate to, very realistic character. Well written.

Christian Bell said...

Well done, and a nice display of how we all have our reckless and responsible selves.

Loved this line:

""Izzy" reminded "Dora" that only dowdy women shopped for hemorrhoid creams and punny foods and spent their days generating false enthusiasm for whiter-whites and gleaming-grout and their nights living vicariously through shallow people confessing to reality show cameras."

Eric J. Krause said...

She'll regret this purchase, I'm sure, but at least Izzy has found her way back, right? Good story. Loved Billy-Bob's monologue.

Michael Solender said...

Awesome!

Marisa Birns said...

Oh, laughed at the image of men wearing socks and sandals at the beach, because I've seen this!

Preparation H? Yes, that's not a great purchase. But Cherry Garcia? Yes, please let's keep that. :)

Cheering Izzy onwards and upwards!!

Enjoy this a lot.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Oh, this made me smile. A lot.
Go Izzy! I shall do something Izzyish today, I think - you have inspired me!

One minor thing - I think you meant patois rather than patios?

pegjet said...

Yes, to all that noticed the wrong spelling of patois. I went back and forth, then decided in Izzy's head, she would mean the right word, but always see it and say it wrong--probably too subtle, but eh, I'm notorious for doing the same thing in real life, so I left it as the wrong spelling.

Thank you for all the great comments. I was hoping the humor would come through.

pieceofpie said...

finding oneself will keep anyone from being bored....tho i do like the pink shorts...excellent story!!...glad you brought her out into the ight

Cathy Olliffe said...

(I'm reminded of the kid in A Christmas Story that wants a Red Ryder BB gun.)
Good name choice (Isadora Duncan stroking the shaft.. heh) ... love how you divvied it up to describe the two warring parts of her personality... I never noticed that about the name before.. how Izzy or Isa (went to school with a girl named Isa and she was like Izzy) is adventurous and how Dora is plain-jane. Good thinking on that one.
Also, just a really great read. Anything with a Billy-Bob is welcomed by me.

quin browne said...

you put us in that split personality life of a middle aged woman, who misses her former spunky self, who faces what is left of life with a hint of fear as she becomes all she dreads.


good name, good plot, excellent dialogue... yay, you!!