Boob Job sneak peek:
struggle of the juggle
“Excuse me, ma’am… ma’am… ma’am,” a voice crept into my eardrums, pushing the pain inside my head closer to a full on explosion. “Do you work here?” she asked, moving in closer. Sliding my tongue along the fur growing on my two front teeth, I tried pulling myself together, hoping that the smell of tequila wasn’t seeping from my pores. I hadn’t showered or brushed my teeth — or found even the slightest bit of hope to get me through my eight-hour shift that I was praying to cut to five. I was an absolute tragedy, hauled from the rubble, packing a wad of Spearmint gum on the roof of my mouth and dirt along the short white edging of my fingernails. Keeping up with my high-end department store’s expectations as far as “proper” appearance went didn’t exactly earn me poster child status. I was one burning Jameson away from starring in Hangover Part Four with the Los Angeles Zoo, and one tequila shot away from seeing zombies.
“Yes, I do work here,” I finally replied, my head spinning like tumbleweed. “What can I help you find?”
“I was actually just hoping you could point me in the direction of your Spanx body slimmers.” Yeah, I can point, I thought, staring at her with my mouth wide open. I can point all day from my corner of recovery while pretending to resize a fixture of bras if it meant keeping silent with a long phony smile. Time was all I needed. And though I was cheating myself out of commission — and adding more soggy chicken wraps to my lunch hour on the seventh floor of the parking structure, so be it. My decision-making was at an all time low and I was prepared to suffer the consequences.
“Can I grab a style?” barely left my mouth when the customer nicely shunned me, walking away to fend for herself. I was momentarily saved and feeling less of the panic. What the hell happened last night? And are my limbs intact despite any rough handling? Determined to work through the fuzz piece by piece, I turned back into the bra wall, starting with the beginning of the alphabet — and the Saddle Ranch on Sunset Boulevard. I couldn’t understand why I started to feel so uneasy about my evening. I found my way back to Beachwood Drive via Yellow Cab after a fare negotiation through Taco Bell, Chase kindly walked me to my door, planting another sweet sentiment, and my limbs were indeed intact. I didn’t do anything that would’ve led to regret, like premature slumber parties or heaven forbid took a ride on the mechanical bull while all of Soapnet’s budding thespians and Jersey Shore’s lubricated transplants cheered around the ring of honor.
Staring blankly at an arrangement of bras, I revisited the images of an ambulance shooting down Sunset and my Hanky Panky thongs on display from my legs wrapped around my neck as the bull came to a screeching halt. It startled me right out of curiosity, and as Def Leppard’s chorus grew louder, pouring more sugar into the spotlight as girls lined up to ride their way to paralysis, I escaped for air, pulling Chase close behind. I was definitely well behaved — but suddenly anxious and slightly wobbly and so thirsty I began to have a lisp. There wasn’t a person in the world other than fellow sales associates who understood the magnitude of being on your game with my department store. There was no time for riff-raff or slacking or multiple breaks or poor hygiene. We were right on par with the Ritz-Carleton and if you weren’t ready to serve the customer, so help you Prada.
“There’s a woman in five who needs a fit,” Rachel snuck up from behind. “Michelle and I will be in an interview if you need us.”
“Oh, okay,” slowly moved from my mouth as I watched both Farah and Yvonne enter the fitting rooms with a handful of bras, Farah stopping abruptly to lend a suspicious smile. I scoped the front of the department wondering if Chase had made it to work yet. I was eager to see him, yet a little reserved due to the fuzz — and discouraged that my plan was failing me as I walked away from my comfort zone.
“Hi there,” I knocked twice, sniffing a pungent scent akin to Woodstock trailing the hallway.
“Hi!” a loud voice welcomed me in.
Looking up, I nearly froze at the sight of a six-foot platinum blonde adorning a parrot on her shoulder.
“This is Raul,” she widened her red lips. “He’s very friendly.”
“He… llo, Raul,” I stood confused. “What… can I help you find?”
“Well,” she paused in front of the mirror, slowly moving her shirt over Raul and then above her head. I watched her breasts, glistening with a hard-to-beat tan, jiggle under her bra before they settled on her chest.
“I need cleavage to go with a specific dress I’m wearing tonight and this isn’t doing it for me. My girls need love!”
“Yes, of course,” I continued to respond with a steady-going nod, noticing some of her breast tissue squeezing out from under the bra’s wire.
“I’m sorry to be so quick, but I don’t have a lot of time and Raul, though friendly, can grow restless. I just flew over here, realizing I need major help!”
“Sure, I understand,” came out as one big lie. I’m not only half-alive, but could potentially get mauled by an impatient bird while fitting a half-naked woman for a bra. Like cats, birds come as unpredictable creatures in my eyes. They present themselves as vultures that could wrap their barbwire claws around one’s neck at any given moment, taking with them a vocal cord or a plethora of soft tissue. My uneasiness about being over-served at the Saddle Ranch had nothing on my uneasiness about Raul.
“Tell me about the cut of the dress,” I tried concentrating while looking over a blinding crest of florescent green feathers.
“It’s fairly low,” she moved her hands along her chest, pushing her boobs up and closer together before stopping at her sternum. “I want my boobs here.”
I examined the thickness of her breasts, in addition to their length, hoping I could nail her size based on assumption and determine my work was done. Though I knew it wasn’t that easy. Her ill-fitting bra threw me, and because my cognitive impairment was substantially below average, the numbers on the measuring tape translated into one big question mark in my head. I needed to go in hands first.
“Go ahead and raise your arms,” I said, moving strategically behind my customer while yanking the measuring tape from off the bar against the wall. I could smell a mixture of sweetened pines coupled with the hearty musk of the great outdoors as I stood choking on air — and mindful, of course, that my own concoction of body odor was a far cry from rose petals. Eyeing Raul, I carefully wrapped the measuring tape around her ribcage. “You mind picking up your…,” she caught onto my fragmented guidance, lifting her breasts so that I could readjust the sticky fiberglass. I quickly settled on a number and discarded the tape, hoping for a little fine-tuning as I struggled to comprehend the simplicity of the same black linear markings from the day before… and the day before that.
“Who’s your customer talking to in there?” Farah asked, joining me at the counter with a pile of bras ready to be rung up.
“A parrot,” I replied flatly, watching Farah’s facial expression transform into a cackling roar.
“You mean a bird?”
“No, Farah, a donkey who also goes by the name parrot.”
I waited as Farah gathered herself, watching drool hit the sides of her mouth.
“How was last night?” she finally asked, catching on to my lack of interest in everything lingerie. “You look a little haggard.”
“You think?” I asked sarcastically, eyeing the sales floor for a handful of 40 triples, hoping I could pass them off and resume position in the back of the department.
“Well are you going to see him again?” Farah asked, pulling a stray eyelash from off my cheek.
“I’ll see him here,” I grabbed two pushup bras from off a fixture near the register.
“You’re going to have to…,” Farah started to speak before my name rolled smoothly off the tongue of the operator and echoed throughout the store. “Natalee Woods, 64.”
“Shit,” I said, setting the bras on the counter. “What’s this?”
“A phone call,” Farah signaled for her customer. “Hit pound first.”
I stood by the telephone and went over a few possible scenarios. What if something happened to Larry or Lulu? Or maybe Chase never made it home after dropping me off and the cab driver threw him, and his Nachos Bell Grande, off the Santa Monica Pier. Everyone had always called the department directly, so why, of all days, was someone seeking me out via the operator?
“Thanks for holding this is…”
“Natalee, yes,” a direct voice spoke through the holes. “This is Roxanne, the store manager.”
My legs nearly gave way as I gripped the phone cord.
“Are you with a customer?” she asked, getting to the point.
“Uh, yes,” I responded slowly, certain that I was moments away from filing unemployment followed by a long, pleading discourse with Manfred about overdue rent.
“No problem. When you’re done with our customer, swing by my office for a second.”
“Sure, yes, absolutely,” flew out of my mouth as I stood staring at Farah wide-eyed. “I’ll be there shortly.”
Panic-stricken from the sound of Roxanne Michaels, AKA Big Cheese, Bitch on Spikes, the “I Couldn’t Smile if my Life Depended On it Because You’re an Insignificant Peon” and “I’m a Store Manager,” made me rethink my mind-set. She ruled the roost with more Gucci pencil skirts than the Kardashians — and her bluster was thunderous if any nonsense was found in her way. Michelle and Rachel, bless their severed hearts, bolted straight for the front of the department upon catching sight of Roxanne’s five-ten, LA Fitness frame musing about. She packed her ass — and top-of-the-line Bentley — into tight spaces in high places. Her role was nothing short of scary and I was about to experience its wake.
Upon entering the dressing room, I came to a standstill as Raul sat eating pellets off his owner’s shoulder — and her bra on the floor.
“Beautiful!” she exclaimed, reaching over to touch the cups of one of the bras.
“Yes,” was the only word I could conjure up as I stood staring at her nipples, equal to a set of Jimmy Dean sausage links, completely take over my 20/20 vision.
“I brought you a few styles of triple D’s. I think the cups will fit you nicely and give you the lift you’re looking for.”
“Do you mind helping me get into it since I’m crunched for time?” she asked, turning her body toward the mirror before examining her breasts.
I stared at the placement of Raul’s feet, noting his claws nearly carved into her flesh, reminding me of Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
“No problem,” I smiled, cautiously moving in closer while unhooking a black push-up bra.
She continued to study her boobs.
“Does he talk?” I asked, examining the purple rims of her glasses as they boxed in the brightness of her blue eyes. She exploded with excitement, suddenly speaking Spanish and French and English while holding out her arms. Regretful that I encouraged life out of Raul as we coexisted in proximity, I helped carefully slide the bra straps up and over each shoulder, listening to my customer engage in trilingual banter with a bright plumage of filth. And though I appreciated her devotion and self-confidence, Raul’s responses came out in whistles and squawks and uncanny “hellos,” making the black eyes plastered on the sides of his head appear creepier.
After fastening the bra’s hook, I hovered on one side, cupping her breast with my hand before pulling it toward the middle of her chest in an effort to maximize her desired cleavage. My pace was less than steady. Time with Roxanne Michaels pended and I was seconds away from a coronary the higher the “girls” got.
“And then there were two!” she stood with sharp scrutiny, shifting her body from side to side. I laughed, making one last adjustment to the straps before backing up toward the door. Her wide smile led me to believe her breasts had reached their full potential thanks to a seemingly miraculous undertaking. I thought leaving her to examine the beauty of her intent would allow me time to hunt down Farah for mints, deodorant, body lotion, fruit snacks, and whatever kind of perfume Dino bought her after one of their mild quarrels. My desperation had no bounds.
Waiting by the register, I pictured myself emptying out my personal box. What on earth summoned me to the store manager’s office? Wracking my brain, I went over a second round of scenarios: Did Roxanne see me out with a coworker? Did Roxanne see me swapping saliva with a coworker? Did Roxanne receive a customer complaint, which wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary for my specialty retailer; people loved free gift baskets. Maybe Roxanne spotted me hiding in the corner dazed and confused, like I had just been released from the dark and the bright department lights, designed to capture the entirety of one’s existence, finally proved to be everything but advantageous. Pulling a piece of tissue from under the counter before prepping a shopping bag, I realized I just needed to get it over with, sinking desperately — or swimming to new shores.
“I’m all ready for you at the register,” I knocked on the door, spotting Raul’s head bobbing around.
“Sorry for the delay, I’m ready!” the door swung open, promptly hitting the doorstopper. “Here,” she said, handing me a business card. “Come see me.”
Staring at the dark bolded words Diane Hart: Psychic Medium, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.
“Oh, okay, thank you,” I flipped the card over to find a picture of a child riding a white stallion in the sun, questioning whether or not I should be viewing its arrangement as a loaded metaphor for everything I needed to welcome into my life.
“It’s pretty straightforward,” Diane spoke earnestly. “And it might lend new direction.”
I paused at her sudden innuendo, wondering what she knew that I needed to know. Her timing was impeccable. My mother was dead. Game over. Battle lost. Defeat strong. And I was a gaping wound because of it, gutted like slimy fish under the bait chopper, silently fighting late night chest palpitations, social disorder, clouded isolation, and excruciating stomach aches followed by a shot glass filled with Pepto-Bismol and the mind-numbing possibility of strapping on a Depend for fecal incontinence.
Staring at Diane, I stuck the card deep into my pocket. She nodded quietly, taking with her a small pile of pushup bras… and Raul. I could feel a shift within our exchange, something indescribable and oddly comforting. I worked against time only to want more. And as the tumbleweed slowed its surge, making room for a small ration of clarity, my pulse finally found its way back to normalcy.
“Thank you,” I smiled, catching sight of Roxanne Michaels walking toward her office. “I’ll be in touch.”