My sisters - those fools with excellent taste! - have once again left the jurisdicion and left me the keys to their store full of gorgeous stuff. The scents of ginger, basil and thyme lotions waft on celing-fan breezes. The Gipsy Kings' Somos Gitanos
plays on the CD player but usually music by Spencer Lewis, Sade or the Cocteau Twins gently caresses the ear. I can't take it. I want one of everything in the store, and ten feet from the front door an eighteen-wheeler has rattled and belched for hours.
At first, I am a good sport. When the store is busy I pretend not to notice the giant truck virtually cuts off natural light. When I am alone, it becomes increasingly difficult to overlook the exhaust smell in the aisle, the throb of the engine and the exuberant shouts of political activists emptying the truck bucket brigade-style.
Don't get me wrong: the activists work for a candidate whose political positions are similar to mine, but I'm literally doing headstands behind the jewelry counter to think about something else.
A little while ago, I went outside for a look-see. Broken palates and great wads of shrinkwrap lay on the sidewalk. I knew right away this could be trouble. This morning, I received a nervous call on the store phone from Sister #3 - Corinne - while I was talking on the cell to Mom.
Corinne: When you came in, by any chance did you notice - did you see maybe - a garbage can I left on the curb last night?
Tata: Mom, Corinne's trying to talk to me again.
Mom: Are you sure? She's more sensible than that.
I put the cell down and tried listening to my sister.
Corinne: ...I left it there and forgot to bring it in...
Tata: Are you talking about a giant black garbage can that's taller than I am?
Tata: When you left it there, was it full of garbage, by any chance?
Corinne: Could've been.
Tata: And now that it's empty you want me to drag this where?
Corinne: Behind the store?
I'm already dragging the thing but when I turn the corner I run straight into a fence.
Tata: Sweetie, how do I get behind the building?
Corinne: The alley by the antiques store?
Tata: And this is because curmudgeonly persons might issue you tickets?
Corinne: You're practically psychic!
I hang up and find the cell. This has got to be eating up my minutes.
Tata: Mom, Corinne said she'd forgotten something outside.
Mom: And what was it?
Tata: She took out the trash and she wanted me to bring in the cans.
Mom: What about that had she forgotten?
Tata: That I couldn't pick her trash can out of a trash can lineup.
So when I step outside and see packing materials right outside the store's front door the tables turn. In the crowd of lively activists I pick out one. He is large, young and especially earnest-looking. I stare at him hard enough to burn a hole in his carefully trimmed goatee. Mere seconds later he looks up, possibly because he smells smoke. No words pass between us. We have a conversation of gestures and wiggled eyebrows.
Dude: Note my shiny idealism!
Tata: Hey kid! Get your shiny idealism off my sidewalk!
Oh God. Suddenly, I'm an old woman.
He slaps the backs of three other strapping young activists. As one, they snap up the wood and plastic and move it around the corner. It's gone. I should be happy. Instead, I every ten minutes for the next two hours I climb down out of the headstand or give someone change and march out the front door to glare at the activists, still unloading that truck. It's a really big
truck. I'm not just a cranky old woman I'm a made-for-TV-movie business owner and I'm on the wrong side of the plot.
That kid - I bet he's the hero.