Thursday, February 18, 2016

Meredith and Fred the Blow Up Doll Shop for Jeans…for the Last Time

It started like most wonderfully rare, sunny Whidbey Island days do, with ­­­a delightful walk down the island’s main drag, where quaint shops lined the picturesque brick promenade. “Oh, babe, we should pop
Hm, size six? Oh, I doubt that, dear. Let's hit the 8/10 rack.
in here and finally get you some new jeans.” Meredith grinned at the sales girl as she strolled into the upscale shop with her arm around Fred’s inflated back. The sales girl looked at Meredith with a slow-blinking stare. “Is there some sort of problem?” Meredith’s grin shifted to a tight, polite smile.

            The girl shook herself a little, as if she were trying to wake herself from a trance. “Of course not, what can I help you find today?” with a curious head tilt.
            “This guy is so hard to shop for, but I’ve had enough. It’s time to replace these raggedy cargo shorts with some nice jeans.”
            “Okay, we might have some that would work for his…um…figure in the back,” the girl motioned to the clearance section. Meredith made sure Fred’s outstretched arms didn’t knock over any mannequins on the way to the racks stuffed with oddly sized apparel. “Do we know it’s size?” the girl asked, her voice shaking a little.
            “I think you mean his size, and I’m not sure. We haven’t been together too long so I don’t know his sizes. But you don’t know mine either, do you Freddie?” Meredith giggled as people did in the beginning stages of a relationship and gave Fred’s airy middle a light hug. She was always so aware of Fred’s fragility, how quickly he could spring a leak or tear and it would all be over.  
                  “I’m going to have Donny help you since he’s our best sizer,” the girl said as she backed away from Meredith and Fred cautiously.
                  Meredith muttered to Fred once the sales girl was out of range, “Well, she was rude.” She
Buy online, Mere, where you can let your freak flag fly
waited for Fred to contribute to the conversation for once, but as always, she was met with a stiff, plastic silence. “Nothing to say? Really?” she turned Fred so he was forced to meet her gaze. Stop it, Meredith, she told herself. Fred is the best thing that ever happened to you.
                  “Donny will help us, won’t he, baby?” she cooed, trying to convince herself that everything was okay. “You’re just going to look so sexy in your new jeans. And we’re burning these shorts by the way.” Fred just looked back at her like he always did, with a painted-on smile.
            “I hear we’re looking for some jeans?” asked Donny, the peppy salesman who suddenly appeared behind the couple. “Ah!” he yelled as Meredith almost fell into a rack of collared shirts with surprise. “What the hell is that?” he yelled, recoiling in disgust. “Stacey!” he yelled toward the front of the store where the sales girl who had been helping Meredith and Fred crouched behind the counter, laughing hysterically. “What the hell! You didn’t tell me I was sizing a blow up doll.”
            “Um, excuse me. ‘That’ is my boyfriend,” Meredith reached across his middle to grip Fred’s hand. She winced as the hard, plastic seam gouged into her palm.
            “You do know that is a blow up doll, don’t you, ma’am? Are you under the impression that you are in San Francisco or LA? This is Mother Effing Whidbey Island. We wear boat shoes. We drink pinot. We tie our sweaters around our necks like we’re extras on Saved by the Bell. We do not bring our goddamn blow up dolls to the shops to play dress-up. We leave them in Portland at our open-minded brother’s house.”
            Donny took the pen that was hanging on a lanyard around his neck and stabbed Fred right in the
The Ryan Gosling Double Standard.
neck. Meredith flinched at the sound of Fred popping, the sound of “the end.” She grabbed a stripped nautical sweater from a display table and headed to the checkout counter. “Gift receipt?” Stacy asked with a smirk.
            “No, I’m wearing this out,” Meredith said with a tight tone. She left her receipt on the counter, ripped off the sweater’s tag, and looped it around her neck. With a flip of her honey blond hair, she held her head high and strutted toward the exit, the only sound in the shop was Fred, hissing as the final glugs of air (Meredith’s own breath, in fact) exited his deflated, limp body. If she listened closely, she could almost hear him saying, “Avenge me,” in a sweet, sad whisper.