Flabbergasted she looked at the person at her doorstep. It was the 10th of December and the sun wasn’t even up yet. It was Mrs Nemesis.
-What? Mrs A thought. Mrs Nemesis had never cared to make morning visits to the neighbours. Why now? She started to shiver.
Even at this hour of the day, Mrs Nemesis was spotless, sporting beige pants and a cashmere cardigan under her mink fur jacket. Her flaxen hair was drawn back and her makeup was so tasteful and discrete. She was the incarnation of Scandinavian Cool and she knew it.
In spite of the demanding situation, Mrs A couldn’t resist looking down to see which shoes Mrs Nemesis had chosen to go with her outfit. But looking down drew attention to her own clothing, consisting of an old bathrobe fastened with her husband’s belt and two different socks. She smiled sheepishly at the goddess in front of her.
-Don’t even think about asking to come in, she thought, but then Mrs Nemesis asked for just that.
She let her neighbour into the little hall and hated the sight of yesterday’s litter bags waiting to be carried out. She was just going to excuse herself when the kids opened their calendars. It turned out to be the Day of The Lice Comb. Hell broke loose and her life was beyond excuses. But now, in the somewhat better light in the hall, Mrs A got a shock. Mrs Nemesis wasn’t herself today. Her complexion was so white and the lips so drawn.
Mrs Nemesis had been crying.
Just after Mrs Nemesis left, Mrs A got her clothes on. She didn’t even glance at the little, black dress that she had considered wearing. She couldn’t use it now anyway after it had been dissed by Mother T. She would have to get a new one.
Time was short and the task difficult. But Mrs State Prosecutor would know where to get a suitable dress. She would probably be taking a day off as the Committee was organising a Christmas Porridge event at the school and Mr Lekker would certainly be present.
Seemingly Mrs State Prosecutor had the hots for the new headmaster. It was by now public knowledge that there was a Mrs Lekker, allegedly some kind of stylist, with the uncommon, foreign surname of Dominique. For some job-related reasons she hadn’t moved from their old town yet, but soon she was to join her husband and their kid. In the meantime the women in the community did their best to keep Mr Lekker happy, with Mrs State Prosecutor first in line as their standard-bearer.
The Christmas Porridge Event was a yearly happening based on a popular belief from older times that little «nisser», leprechaunds, were hiding in barns and outhouses. To keep the little critters happy during the Holidays, the houseowners had to offer their secret tenants rice porridge before Christmas.
This traditional belief had been adapted to modern life: There were no nisser anymore ; the kids were playing the critter part of the game instead. The young got the pleasure of eating the porridge their parents had volunteered both to make and to scrape off the classroom walls later.
The Committee was of course heavily involved in the whole thing, and the work load was tremendous: Not only were they supplying the porridge ingredients, the Committee members were also organising the purchase and distribution of Christmas paper napkins and pillar candles to cheer up the classrooms.
Mrs Nemesis understandably looked burdened by her responsibilities when Mrs A arrived at the school. Could that possibly be the reason for her crying on Mrs A’s doorstep this morning? Were we having regrets now? Had it been better if our good neighbour Mrs A had been in charge? Wouldn’t have been in porridge purgatory today then, would we? Eh?
Mrs A couldn’t dwell on such mundane questions. In the school kitchen she got hold of Mrs State Prosecutor. The latter had just burnt her porridge, busy as she was spying on President Nemesis’ ongoing chat with Headmaster Lekker. The latter had accidentally and unknowingly a horizontal sunray hitting his buttocks to the most decorative effect.
Mrs State Prosecutor didn’t know much about porridge, and had she known whether she was loosing Mr Lekker to Mrs Nemesis, she would never have uttered a word about it – but she did know exactly where Mrs A could get a dress befitting the stellar occasion; it was a small boutique in a classy downtown street.
The snow cracked under Mrs A’s heavy boots as she came running to the boutique. The bus had been redirected because of the ceremony and now she was late! Stone stairs led up to the entrance door and Mrs A climbed them two steps at the time. Panting in front of the entrance door, she felt her emotional guard go down; she was a loser and she knew it. Whatever she told the salespeople in that shop, it was written on her forehead that she only yesterday found her homesewn dress celestial enough, that she thought a cheap belt and some inexpensive lipstick would make her blend into the high life of the world.
She moaned. How could she be so naive?
The entrance door was pushed open from the inside, and a busy customer left in a hurry. Mrs A wasn’t much into reality shows, but the leaving customer was a former reality show star, now apparently finished and done with the reality business. Mrs A inhaled deeply and entered the boutique with her heart pounding fast. She had half an hour to buy a cocktail dress.
It was a beautiful store consisting of several adjoining rooms. The ceiling was high. The walls were a calming grey. Beautiful clothing in soothing colours were exhibited, evidently very expensive and classy in all respects. As a nice contrast, disco music from the 70s was discreetly playing in the background. Right now it was the Hot Chocolate hit «You sexy thing», and the salesgirl was humming to the tune as she dialed a telephone number.
I believe in miracles
Where you from?
You sexy thing…
It was hard to know which of the dresses would fit the occasion best. Mrs A had no time to loose and decided to ask the salesgirl. She went to the counter, taking a dress with her that might work.
I believe in miracles
Since you came along
You sexy thing…
But the salesgirl had just reached what must be the owner on the phone and she took her time.
-It was Veronica! she said. -From «Dumpster Duchess»!
It became clear that Veronica, who just left as Mrs A arrived, won the reality show «Dumpster Duchess» and that she was now considering participating in «The Trashinator», an innovative entertainment concept about which Mrs A didn’t grasp all the interesting details.
-Nobel? Mrs A whispered to the salesgirl, showing the dress, anxious about the time and hoping for a quick answer.
But the salesgirl didn’t take notice.
Now you are lying next to me
Giving it to me
-Nobel…dress! Mrs A tried again, in quiet desperation. There was no point in grabbing a couple of dresses in some random sizes to try them on. She didn’t have the time.
-Do you know what I dared? the salesgirl said, -I told her she should go for «A Dime a Dozen Dip» instead of «The Trashinator». I mean, she could be rich now, but when you think of what she will be..
(You’ve made your point! TV is what counts! Money counts!)
The salesgirl held her hand over her phone and addressed Mrs A:
-I am so sorry to keep you waiting.
(Yes, maybe it’s time now, to stop making me wait.)
-But we just had a reality show star in the store. I just have to tell the owner!
(That goes without saying! Of course!)
Seeing that Mrs A wasn’t happy, the salesgirl continued:
-Two seconds, and I’m with you, the salesgirl said. – You will want to look downstairs! We’ve got many nice items on sale.
(Yes! THE MAIN FLOOR IS RESERVED FOR REALITY SHOW STARS! NOBEL PEACE PRIZE GUESTS: KINDLY USE THE BARGAIN BASEMENT PLEASE!)
-Mostly casual, the salesgirl continued, but with fantastic prices!
( Yes, I am looking for your PEACEPRIZE 4LESS department!!! Please show me the NOBELPEACEPRIZEDISCOUNTS2GOOD2BTRUE4U!!! at once! )
-Up here, it’s a little bit…
The salesgirl made an expression that was supposed to mean «expensive». Mrs A got hot, cold and then hot again.
Ten minutes later she headed for home with a dress that was perfect: Knee-length and semi-tight, it was made in charcoal satin lace with cap sleeeves. Perfect! Mrs A might not become a returning customer though; she had been a little bit harsh with the salesgirl.
At home she called for a taxi as she was very, very late. Mr A had driven the kids to their babysitter and they were to meet at the City Hall entrance.
She got into the dress and brushed her hair in the bathroom. It had been a terrible day, but honestly, she looked terrific! She watched herself in the mirror and the song from the boutique kept playing over and over again in her head:
I believe in miracles
Where you from?
You classy thing…
The taxi arrived. Barefoot and a social success she darted to the window to make him a sign. She had to leave at once! The invitation clearly stated that leftcomers were not let in.
…You classy thing…
-Things had turned out right, she thought as she put her lipstick in her purse. She had a complete outfit, shoes, dress, even a nice coat – she would only have to go get the pantyhose that she had bought for the occasion, the one that was in her drawer.
-I made it, she though. –I’m going to the Peace Prize Award ceremony and I am going in style! Nothing can stop me now!
She ran into the bedroom and opened her underwear drawer and a cry escaped her. The Halloween Glow in the Dark thing was sitting where she had left it the other day. Apart from it, there was nothing.
The Peace Prize Pantyhose was gone.
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