No, not for ‘J-S’; ‘JOS’ puts me in the middle of fighting inNigeria, and ‘JUS’, not much better- a faux French restaurant.
No, this purchase was necessitated by the relative ‘nada-less-ness’ of this week’s Box-O-Letterz.
Every Sunday I go to the Post Office to pick up my ‘catch-of-the-week’. $19.95 on the credit card for a six month deal.
And it started out fine: Always four(4) letters, and always a vowel or even two.
Like S-T-A-R, my first package. I was so excited. Spent the week watching rasta rats star in
various tars. Serves ’em right for the bubonic plague, you know.
But this week something happened. Who knows, mebbe even the credit card’s fault, but the box rattled, and inside were just two (2) measely scrabble-piece squares, a ‘C’ and a ‘D’.
Putting the best face on it, I loaded the car with my guitar, some cassettes of old song ideas,
and of course a bit of Columbia (MD) Marching Powder, and headed south on I-83, thence (I planned) to I-95 and the studio I’d use to record CDs in DC. Hell, what else could I do, in the situation?
Well, maybe remember to fill the gas tank. I was barely over the Mason-Dixson line before I had to admit that ignoring the red ‘tank empty’ light was bravado in principle but stupido in practice.
I weighed my options like anyone with a net worth in the low four figures ($23.87). Ten bucks
would get me back home, with god’s help. That was one choice. The other was to blow the whole bankroll on gas and cruise on to D.C, in neutral I figured. It sure looks like downhill on a map anyway. But the little store behind the Gas ‘N Go caught my eye… and the rest will shortly be history.
‘T&L the Lettermen’, the sign had once read, I’ll assume. But it looked like the place was in
business, so I cautiously opened the screeching door.
“Hi there, I’m Louise, what can I do you for?” said a perky woman behind the counter, with enough of a Maryland accent to let you feel that rush of ‘South of the Border’.
“Um, I’d like to buy a vowel, I guess.” I ventured, not really knowing what a joint like this
“That’d be Thelma in Aisle Nine, honey.” she replied sweetly. I was kinda busy parsing her
cleavage and more mysteriously, pondering how a 400 square-foot store could possible have nine(9) aisles.
“Yup, vowels, back here in ‘Facetious’.” Thelma called out. “Got ’em all. In alphabetic order!” she added proudly. I had the strong feeling like I might just have been her first customer for the week… or year, and vowed to make it worthwhile.
“OMG, seriously?!” I fairly shouted, doing my kid in a candy-store thing, and why not?
“Yup, seriously. Even got that new AE combo on sale. Probably heard about it. You know, Aesop’s Fables, the aether, stuff like that there.”
Thelma’s exuberance broke my heart. Hell, I would have bought a Mix ‘N Match ‘XQYZ’ Valu-Pak from her, just to see her smile.
“An ‘O’, I think, that’s all I need today, for now, this time.” I said, careful to imply repeat
“Just an ‘O’?” she asked, luckily without the plaintive tone which would have started me crying in public.
“Yeah, I got a ‘C’ and a ‘D’ this morning.” I explained, or tried to.
“Shoulda studied harder, boy.” Thelma kidded me, “What grade you in?”
“Well, I’m 63, so I guess that’d be 57th Grade. No, I get the letters in a box each week. Signed up for it on-line.”
“Yes we heard about that. They’re blowing us out of the water on consonants,” Thelma confided, “but now vowels; we’re competitive. Sure you don’t want the Five-Pak?”
“Thelma, between what I want and what I can afford is a significant ellipsis.” I told her, moving a bit closer to her literary charms.
“Ok then, next time, hon.” Again with the ‘hon’. I ♥ Maryland.
“A shame you got a D&C. guy. Can’t even use it. Course with this ‘O’ here you can go to a DOC… for, you know, men’s problems.” Thelma’s banter was oddly tiltilating.
“No problems I know of, other than an out-sized appetite.” I told her, somewhere along the line.
“Well then, make COD. Fried is nice, I heard.”
“Right you are, Thelma, and that’s the main reason I need the ‘O’. So, first the ‘COD’, then off to the DOC.” I laughed at my own cooking prowess.
“Or the Doctor first?”
“Nope, it’s gotta be alphabetical. In the right order. Otherwise I kinda flip out.”
“Yeah, OCD, I heard of that.”
Thelma was growing on me rapidly. But I had miles to travel:
“So yeah, an ‘O’. Only ten bucks?” I asked her.
“Seven fifty with my discount.” she whispered as we walked up to Louise at checkout, who gave her some indecipherable private look. Apparently girls talk. When they’re not busy selling vowels. I thanked them both, got into my old T-bird and placed the ‘O’ lovingly in the letter-box with the ‘C’ and ‘D’. An oddly compelling smell of fish and rubbing alcohol exuded from the box within seconds, and mixed with the smell of the gas pumps before I drove back to the interstate, wondering what gaps, real or imagined I might receive in next week’s letter package. Hell, even if they sent me the whole damn alphabet, Thelma wouldn’t need to know, right?