Thanks for the tip, MM.
I am truly praying I don't need to use it.. I have owned scorpions in the past (they got eaten by blackbirds! so much for allowing them a little fun in the sun..), and really enjoyed them. But they were little! And I was in my 20's and didn't accidentally lose them in the house! Maybe I should give Daughter a little more credit.. but paying $75 for a giant scorpion that may end up mush under Irish's bootheel or scuttling about under the sofa is not something I wish to experience.
I moved Cole into the living room today to get him used to the change in environment. The NPT will be too big for daughter's room (especially if she's keeping the "whatever else" enclosure in there). Cole is a cranky fish. He is highly suspicious of this move, and has been eyeballing everything from the new crypt I gave him to the people walking by, flaring madly at everything. I hope he likes the NPT. It should be up by end of next week, if all goes well.
I have been inspired by Sena to share one of my short stories. It's not my best one, but I enjoyed writing it. It's entirely fictional (well, mostly..)
by Aus, 2010
My mother is one of those mothers. You know, the ones who have enough money to live a life of care-free consumer consumption but, to make up for the lack of any excuse to expend real adrenaline and being too scared of heights to take up free-fall skydiving, has become addicted to hunting bargains instead.
So we eat $1.35-a-box cereal, which tastes like the company has simply filled the box with other, more shredded boxes. We dress in label clothing scoured from closing down sales. While other, normal families go to see movies or hike a mountain on a weekend, we traipse around unsuccessful malls and bulk-item megamarts, looking for run-out items and the best toilet paper for under six cents a roll. Our television is pre-set to record Antiques Homeshow on whatever station happens to be currently showing it, in every country in the Western World.
I cannot even speak about e-bay.
Today she wants us to go 'thrift shopping'. I don't know what that is, until I ask, and she explains it. Oh, I say, we're purchasing other people's garbage now. Fantastic.
She tells me it's very 'in' to go thrift shopping. Retro items are worth big bucks now, she knows this because of e-bay. People are making a fortune in 70's shoes and 80's fluorescent tulle nightclub wear. The past is a gold-mine of opportunity. Why couldn't I just be bit more supportive, when she's doing this to help our family?
I am sufficiently guilt-tripped, and decline to point out that Dad makes two hundred grand a year and we have no mortgage.
I've never seen the inside of a second-hand store before. It smells like old people. The garment racks are an insane jumble of colours, sizes, shapes and styles. I start imagining some of the folks who used to own those clothes are maybe still in them.
There's also a bunch of junk in display cases, which my mother calls 'bric-a-brac'. She seems particularly delighted with this stuff.
The store manager is a plus-sized woman who looks like she has dressed herself with her eyes closed, walking through the store and pulling things off the racks at random. Unlike people who work in regular stores, she doesn't greet us or ask if we want any help. Instead, she sits behind a lime green laminate display counter, peering over a pair of tortoiseshell spectacles at a pile of what appear to be 1940's military issue brassieres. She does not move off her stool. She does not acknowledge us at all. I decide that making sure she notices us will be adequate revenge on my mother.
I start by asking the woman where the shoes are. I have to say 'excuse me' twice before she looks up and points at a rack full of dinted, scuffed shoes three feet away. I ask her if any of those have support arches. I ask her if she has any of those disposable socks that help avoid fungal diseases from trying shoes on, and anyway, my socks are kind of sweaty and you know how that makes shoe-buying difficult.
I ask her if anyone ever died in those shoes.
The woman replies, to all of the above, "No."
Okay, I say, then proceed to try them all on. I try on men's shoes and ladies' shoes. Too big, too small shoes. Platform shoes, ugg-boots, clogs, stilettos, lace-ups, slip-ons. I clomp around in these, sometimes wearing two completely different shoes at once, saying 'hmm' and 'dunno' a lot.
I want that motley-garbed hippo to wedge the stool out of her ass, waddle over here and ask me if I need any help. This is now my life's purpose.
Meanwhile, my mother is breathing heavily. I can hear her, clear across the store. That can mean only one thing— she has found a bargain. And not just any bargain. No, this will be something Van Gogh painted on his deathbed but which somehow ended up here, in the thrift shop, mistaken for some art-school dropout's sloppily crafted rendition of a sunflower, thrown out by his parents when he finally knocked somebody up and was forced to move into his own trailer.
I sigh, and let go of my newfound ambition. In twenty seconds, Mother will walk by me and hiss, 'let's go!', with that look on her face that tells me I won't get to play WoW for many days while she hogs the computer, trying to resell this thing on the net for a huge profit.
I drop a pair of knee-high Roman sandals that actually are coming back into vogue, though probably without all those puppy-teeth bite marks, and follow her to the counter, where the woman in the unfortunate mix of homespun and Versace-does-Hawaii condescends to look at the price tag on a very small china figurine, about which Mother is pretending to be totally casual.
"Hmm," says the ungulate, peering closely at the figurine, which is either a deformed poodle or some kind of anaemic shrub.
Mother points to the stick-on tag, flipping correct change out of her purse. "Four dollars."
"It has a mark," moos the shop-keep.
"Yes, a chip on the left ear," says Mother, somewhat losing her edge of cool. "Can you knock a dollar off?"
The manager looks at Mother over her glasses. "I am fairly certain this is a collectible."
Oh no. She's said the 'C' word. I sense my Mother entering a state of internal apoplexy. There is going to be a battle. Mother takes a deep breath and girds her... whatever mothers gird, in these situations.
"The tag says four dollars," she says crisply. "And I'm in a hurry."
Motley the Gnu huffs gently, turning the ugly poodle this way and that. You can smell the tension in the air. The peril of losing money is stalking her across the plains. Her ears twitch nervously. Her nostrils distend.
Mother slaps the money on the counter and drums her fingers, before snapping at me to make up my mind about the shoes, please, and why can't I just get into the spirit of thrift shopping, even if we're only here to find china dogs for my dying little sister's hospital beside, and was I aware
that the cancer ward's visiting hours finish at four, so if I make us late and she dies before we get there it'll be all my fault that we never got to say goodbye.
It's a brilliant ploy. The wildebeest scrunches her muzzle into a good simulation of remorse and pops the dog into a paper bag with string handles. "Four dollars."
Mother has lost all capacity for speech, so the entire car ride home is more eerie for the traffic sounds being uninterrupted by triumphant watering-hole screeches. I want to ask, but I don't want to, in case I set her off.
At home, in the kitchen, she sets the bag on the counter and opens it. "Look. Just look."
I look in the bag. It contains an ugly china poodle.
"That's one ugly poodle," I say. "I'm sure the kiddies in the cancer ward'll love it, though."
Mother sniffs loudly, her way of implying that I am an incurable barbarian. She fishes the thing out of the bag. There's a mark on it alright, a crown and some faded letters.
"This poodle," she intones, "Is worth seven hundred dollars."
Even I'm impressed. I tell her so, and watch her radiate. What can I do, but bask in that kind of glow? Well, there's one thing. I take a long step back.
"Six hundred and ninety-six dollars profit. Divided by half…."
That's a lot of beat-up '70's shoes, right there.