Join me in reminiscing, if you will…
I was sitting on the couch, wondering how long it would be before my roommate got home and we could commence our nightly discussion on where we would go to drink beer that night.
Perhaps those assholes at Payless shouldn’t display them so close to the regular shoes, I was angrily thinking to myself as I stood there. This is what came out of my mouth: “They’re a bunch of assholes at Payless, you know."
“Totally,” he breathed.
“So the slippers aren’t my fault,” I continued.
His look turned quizzical, but he shook it off quickly. “I wasn’t expecting…it’s just that…you’re so pretty…”
Okay, peeps, let me explain something here. I lived in a college town. This asshole had probably used that line on no fewer than 152 other girls that day.
But I was most likely the only dumbass that fell for it and let him in for an afternoon ciggie and sexless dry hump on the couch.
In my defense, I had just started bleaching the shit out of my hair, and I was still learning. It’s powerful stuff, that bleach. It’ll make a gorgeous magazine salesman look straight past a huge nose and pair of black slippers worn as shoes and invite himself in to make out.
It would take me a long time—aka The Skank Years—to figure out how to deal with that kind of heady power.
But in the meantime, I’d spend a couple of hours making out with a magazine salesman and sharing my roommate’s lo mein noodles with him, Skanky and the Tramp style.
“YOU GUYS. He was so hot…so distinguished. He’s a magazine salesman, you know.”
I saw Leigh shoot my roommate a glance which should have raised some alarms for me, but I was too excited…too smug to care.
“Have you ever seen Death of a Salesman?” I asked. “It was like something straight out of that play.”
Leigh looked at me with a smirk. “Have YOU ever seen Death of a Salesman?”
“No,” I responded impatiently, dismissing her question with a flick of my wrist. “But that’s not the point. The point is that he’s a dignified salesperson.”
And that’s when Leigh had had enough; she decided to burst my bubble, along with my dreams of a little magazine salesman husband and a little magazine salesman family. “You know he was on work release, right?”
I stopped. “Wh-what?”
At first, Leigh looked stunned at my blissful ignorance of the world around me. (Why hadn’t my dad warned me about things like this, by the way? Even if he’d just assumed that his daughter who oddly resembled a horse wouldn’t have to worry about situations such as these, hadn’t he realized that I would someday grow into this mile-long face and that the good-looking guys would be literally knocking down my door—albeit with a stack of magazines in hand to peddle?)
Leigh’s shock at my naivety only lasted a second before she burst into hysterical laughter and nudged my roommate. “She had no idea she was making out with an ex-con!”
“Do you think he had crabs?”
I have no idea why I blurted this out. Probably because I was horrified. I was an innocent small-town girl whose only knowledge of ex-cons was from the guys in high school who’d gotten arrested for running the more prestigious bathtub meth labs in town. And I didn’t even know much about them, since they’d deemed me too uncool to hang out with them while the measured and mixed—no matter how much I’d begged.
I suppose I just figured since he’d been to jail, he must have some kind of STD, and crabs, the big buzzword at the time, was as good as any. I wasn’t even sure what it meant, as I had only gotten my braces off a few months earlier and hadn’t yet had a lot of time to try out my slut chops. I had no idea how hard—or how easy, as I feared the case may be—it was to contract a nasty case of the crabs.
When my lower lip started to quiver, my friends decided to take pity on me and stop teasing me. They spent the next three hours (at that particular evening’s chosen bar) assuring me that no, you could not get crabs or any other disease just by kissing someone—and that actually, he’d gotten the short end of the stick when he probably caught the raging case of lip herpes that had started to flare up on my lower lip from the stress of the whole situation.
For some reason, that thought comforted me.
*Author’s Note: In the years since, I have come to learn that my salesman was not, in fact, a convict on work release. Nor was he a former juvenile delinquent getting a fresh start on adult life—or a college student hoping to earn a trip abroad.
No, he was none of these things. What he was, most likely, was part of a band of con artists pretending to be all of the above things in order to obtain account numbers and drain people of all of their money.
So see, Leigh, you smartass, you? He hadn’t even been to jail yet because he hadn’t been caught.
Big difference. Big difference.
My only regret is that I didn’t give him my account number. I think he deserved the $1.50 that was probably in there at the time. I’d say the self-esteem boost that I received that day was worth at least that much, and anyway, the Campho-Phenique he’d need for that canker cost like 10 times that much.
If you're finished reading this post but still need to pass some time at work before you head out to happy hour on this beautiful Friday, here's another post I did about my affinity for all things magazine. Oh, and here's a Trashy Short that I wrote about Leigh.
Have a great weekend!