As the clock ticks closer towards noon, my heart fills with dread, for the whore is coming. Taking a deep, cleansing breath, I try to let the negative energy out of my body. Breathe in, count slowly backwards from eight to zero as I exhale. Again, I take another deep breath and slowly allow the negative thoughts to leave my body. She is not my boss, I tell myself affirmatively. She does not control my life, I say to myself as my heart begins to beat faster with the knowledge that the whore is on her way.
She doesnt call herself a whore and would in fact be offended if she knew that I thought of her that way. She calls herself an image consultant, a designer, and a publicist. I dont care what she calls herself, I just wish she wasnt coming here to my store. It isnt exactly my store, as I dont own it; Im just the manager. I was hired to make it my store and make it an inviting environment. The owner of the store thought I could do this with no budget and no resources. I did the best I could buying cheap samples from gift shows that were discarded by others. He made me go to stores that were closing to buy fixtures that other retailers had used and given up on. He gave me nothing to work with, but I tried my best to make something out of it.
After a few months, when his friends made comments about the sparse selection of merchandise, he brought in the whore. Im not sure how he met her. Whores have a way of swooping down on people who need the ass kissing that only they can provide. For the nominal fee of $2000 a month, she told him that she could make the store a success. Perhaps because she demanded so much, he decided she was worth it.
Ill design the store, she said in her voice that managed to be both nasally and have a lisp at the same time. Was it her harsh New York accent and the underbite that made the air go through her mouth like that? How on earth could someones voice be that way? It made me long for the soothing sound of nails on a chalkboard to get that voice out of my head. I had a strange premonition then that the voice would sneak its way into my nightmares. She had hair in a strange and unnatural color, like brass that desperately needed polishing. She had a yellow pin-striped pants suit that was too tight, with the pants held up with a safety pin where a button should be. When she spoke, she used wild hand gestures that made her look like a wounded bird attempting to fly. She spoke harshly to and about everyone but the owner. Apparently, she was only nice to the people who paid her. Normally, I dont find myself so judgmental, but she claims to be an image consultant. I didnt think she was very good because if she was, surely she would have focused on her own image more. I couldnt wait for her to leave so the store owner and I could make fun of her. I imagined us both trying to imitate that voice and that it would be a bonding experience for us. He would happily give me a real budget for the store, pleased to know that I was at least better than this woman.
To my surprise, he thought she was great. This is what Im talking about, he said excitedly. We need her.
I felt that we needed this woman the way that Mary-Kate Olson needs a diet.
From now on, he said, shes your boss. Do everything that she says.
Filled with disgust and feeling all respect that I had for the owner disappearing, I said that I would. Her idea to make the store into a success was to give it a retro-chic boutique feel. As far as I could tell, retro-chic meant garage sale crap. And it was all expensive.
She began to come in sporadically and order everyone around as if they were her servants. She spent the weekends scouring thrift shops for the perfect old refrigerators and dilapidated coffee carts to use for display pieces. She claimed to be getting us press about the uniqueness of the store. The thing is, the store really isnt that exceptional. Its not a completely novel idea, as the owner and the whore would have you believe. Its in a bad location and gets about four customers a day who come by. As the whore has begun her slow renovation, we might have had five customers come in. Not only is the store losing money every day that it remains open, the whore keeps getting her $2000 a month plus expenses. Its now a waiting game to see how much longer this store will stay in business.
The clock keeps ticking and I am still waiting for her to come in. What will she order me to do today? What will she have me paint today? Will she tell me to run out and get her lunch? I hope she doesnt even use common courtesy! Maybe the secret to her success is never using the words please or thank you. Why do I insist on calling her a whore, instead of an image consultant, a designer, or even a publicist? Because the owner has to pay her a lot of money and is getting screwed. I want to feel sorry for him. I want to say that he deserves more than this. But I cant.