Pin Up or Shut Up

Cigarette fiction by a woman of excellent breeding and impeccable moral fiber.
Rough translation (English to English): Pain in paste. 
But you probably could have guessed that already.

Auzolle, Marcellin. Dentifrice Durel. Illustration.

Rough translation (English to English): Pain in paste. 

But you probably could have guessed that already.

Auzolle, Marcellin. Dentifrice Durel. Illustration.

You know, if you’re too busy or something. 

You know, if you’re too busy or something. 

I’ve got goals in different area codes.

I’ve got goals in different area codes.

unorthodox

Brushing up on monthly magazines she would never spend her own money towards, Laney arrived eight minutes before her appointment on August 15 at 2:30 p.m. to enjoy light topics and to skim the latest trends. Humored by the clever ads for her favorite nylons, she spread her mouth wide, baring pearly white teeth in “a grin the size of Texas!” as her father used to say. But Laney’s smile did not last long. Noticing the woman in scrubs behind the desk, she closed her mouth quickly, expressionless once again.

The woman in scrubs did not look up, but Laney could see a smirk growing across her face.

Through her nostrils, Laney sighed a deep, relaxing breath as the hand on the clock reached 2:31. Anxious to meet the doctor, Laney’s foot tapped tenaciously on the carpet.  As five minutes passed, she put down her magazine on the stack of untouched National Geographics. Six minutes passed, so she flipped between watching the woman in scrubs now at the filing cabinet and the clock while her foot’s tempo increased to andante. But soon ten minutes passed. Then fifteen.

Laney pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. She scribed,

            Dear Missus,

   Have I come at a bad time?

   I’m able to reschedule the appointment if the doctor would prefer.

Sincerely,

Ms. L. Morris

and fastened the note above the Sign In Sheet on the clipboard which Laney then centered perfectly on the desk. Laney sat back down in the chair with a pen in her hand and her personal calendar open to next week which already seemed to have many appointments filled. Her foot tapping seemed to contain less rhythm and more volume.

A man and his boy opened the door to the waiting room. The door shut behind the dapper man and his spinning-image linking his fingers through his father’s. Once in the presence of women, the man immediately dropped the boy’s hand and marched to the clipboard on top of the desk and signed in below Laney’s message. The boy also marched to his destination: the pile of toys. Fixed with a tough decision. The boy scratched his chin exactly as his father did while—gasp! Was he reading Laney’s message? Her face flushed and became very warm, so she picked up the magazine again and held it to her face, peering around the corner to catch another glimpse of the man, but from her position Laney could only see the boy.

The boy was well dressed, his hair combed neatly to the side. He wore a plaid shirt tucked in and played very quietly. The boy had chosen the wooden beaded educational maze instead of the noisy Slinky. Laney took this to be a sign of good breeding. She thought to herself, this boy would make an excellent playmate for Samuel, her nephew. Again, Laney sighed through her nose.

            Suddenly, the woman in scrubs said, “No, Mrs. Morris, rescheduling won’t be necessary. The doctor will see you shortly,” pulling the note off of the clipboard, crumpling it up and throwing it in the trashcan. She looked at Laney square in the eye for the first time since she’d arrived at 2:22pm. The woman in scrubs continued to make direct eye contact as she pressed a button which illuminated a big red light, and she whispered something into the intercom. Then the woman turned and smiled at Laney with a bright, toothy smile. She opened her mouth and tossed her head back a little like the women from the nylon ad. Laney looked down at her magazine.

“Hello Mr. Anders, welcome back,” the woman in scrubs said. Laney could hear the woman smile as she spoke.

            The man named Mr. Andres nodded his head to acknowledge the woman in scrubs and looked slightly in Laney’s direction, she already looking at him. Neither smiled. Then he sat on the carpet beside the boy. Laney closed her calendar and put the cap back on her pen.

At sixteen minutes past her 2:30 p.m. appointment, no sounds of movement came from behind the door.

The little boy said, “There! The square and the circle are chipped, but exactly the same way. They are both red too!” He stood beside wooden toy, which stood nearly as tall as he, making his way around the maze to show his father. He grabbed his father’s face and pushed it towards the red square and the red circle bead. Both the square and the circle chipped right beside its center. “They are both red. See? See?” the boy pushed his father’s face in closer to the maze. “Look, right here!” said the boy. The man nodded. “That’s why they belong together.”

With that, the man gave his son a look of great will.

Then the man wrinkled his nose. He grabbed his son’s mouth.

Laney’s expression slanted as the stench became intolerable but she considered it lucky to disband so quickly considering how heavy it had come over them; however the father-son moment that had also been shared with Laney had caused a volcanic eruption of an even more unpleasant reaction to the boy’s astute observation on the brink of filling her.  

As though she’d commanded him to do so, the man seeing Laney fight as hard as she possibly could scooped both of his hands to his son’s angelic face, the smaller and greener version of his own face. And now they were both turning green. Laney covered her own mouth with her hands and punched her foot to the carpet with a beat now charged to allegro. As her hammer foot slammed the carpet floor, the bubble of a giggle began to erupt. Laney fought it hard, harder than she’d ever concealed her laughter before, but she could feel herself loosing the control like a brand new tickle spot in her throat had been activated.

Over his cupped hands, Laney saw the crescent-moon eyes form. She now understood what this would mean. For the man, whose son was almost out of clean air, who gagged at her hygiene, who had not said a word, only nodded acknowledgements in the time they’d passed together had indeed sacrificed his own happiness as she had so many times before. Muscle spasms began around his stomach, then grew up his shoulders. Finally reaching his mouth, he bellowed! The two cackled and cawed as they emptied themselves of laughs.

            “MS. MORRIS!”  the woman in scrubs screamed, causing the laughter from the waiting room to come to a halt. Then, the woman in scrubs inhaled the double contamination. Her face flashed white as she murmured, “the doctor will see you n—“ and then she fainted. 

"It’s easier to do than say, Jim."
A couple examines the deeper issues

1940s. Colgate Advertisement.

"It’s easier to do than say, Jim."

A couple examines the deeper issues

1940s. Colgate Advertisement.

Nancy and her flock of males

1940s Colgate Advertisement. 

Nancy and her flock of males

1940s Colgate Advertisement. 

It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back


Vargas, Albert. Esquire. 1946. Hearst Communications, Inc.

It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back

Vargas, Albert. Esquire. 1946. Hearst Communications, Inc.

Multitask

Evelyn took a last look at the empty aisles of Noble Shoes then turned off the light, thinking she’d be able to save the electric bill at the very least.

An old-fashioned phone, a $94.99 purchase from a higher market, rang several times before she noticed the bell.

            “Could you get that?” she called to the backroom. Her assistant had moved on to Macy’s earlier that week.

            She sighed and answered the call herself. She lifted the gritty mouth piece close to her lips and put her ear near the receiver.

            “Noble Shoes, how’s your feet?” she sang.

            “How’s the shop?” a deep-voice struck on each syllable as Evelyn sat down on the stool, deciding to engage in the company.

            “Fine, dad.”

            “Well, that’s odd because Mark, you know Mark?—Mr. Milton? He used to come by the house to help me sign some of the store paperwork when you were a kid. Do you remember him? Good guy, that Mark. Always making sure we had enough saved up for that expensive, private college we sent you to. You know I didn’t go to college, did I? I think I’ve told you that before.”

She kept her ear on the receiver, as she used her foot to flick the store lights back on while her father continued, “We just learned our craft back in the day. Got the job in shoe cobbling right out of college. Well Mr. Milton came by the condo and he said you were asking for some money. Money you didn’t have. Money you wanted Mark—Mr. Milton to invest in the store. Is that right, honey?”

“Well dad, shoe cobbling isn’t exactly a recession friendly business. Lots of people are trying to trim the fat from their wallets—”

“Not when I was there.“

“Enough!” she said. “Sorry dad, but you have no idea what you’re talking about. You were the one who wanted to bring in more workers and more shoes. We started making cheap products and now we can’t sell them. I checked with Mr. Milton, and we were fine before. It’s not even the recession’s fault, we just lost the customers’ trust!”

He waited a long time before he finally sighed into the phone. He wasn’t sure if he’d taken his medicine yet or if the nurse would be coming by later.

“How are they treating you?” Evelyn said finally.

“Fine, hon,” he said and took a sip of water from his Dixie cup.

“What did they bring you for dinner?”

“It’s Tuesday, so we’re having chicken, mashed-potatoes and Jell-O. We always have the same thing on Tuesdays,” he said.

“Not when I was there.”

Happy Shark Week!

Happy Shark Week!

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