Posts Tagged ‘phone’

A Good Exchange

I spoke to Lily again today.

“How would it be if I came up on Wednesday just after lunch instead of just the one night?”

“Of course, you’re always welcome here, you know that. Any particular reason?”

To stop myself going mad. To get myself as far away from Lloyd as possible. “I just don’t get to see you guys as often as I should. Do I need a reason?”

Lily laughed. “What’s going on? Still having trouble at work? What was that guy’s name – Logan?”

“Lloyd.” I clenched my teeth.

“Mmm. What’s going on now?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Arthur. Talk. Now.”

“Really, Lily, it’s – ”

“Arthur.” Damn that woman. I know, I know she won’t leave me alone until I tell her. I could hang up and she’ll ring me back. I could not answer and she’d probably jump in the car and drive down here and knock on my door until I opened it to tell her exactly what’s been happening the past few days. I talked.

“Sounds like an dickhead.”

I leaned my face against the wall, squashing my nose against the plaster. “Oh, god, you’ve no idea.”

“And so what, you’re just going to keep guessing his name?”

Gently, gently, I banged my forehead on the wall a few times. “What else can I do?”

“Mmm. OK. Well it does sound like it’d be a good idea for you to come up for a couple of days.”

I sighed. “Good. What have you been up to?”

“Oh, you’ll never believe it. Do you remember how Alice gave me that ridiculous oven thing a couple of months ago?” Alice is Lily’s nutbag ex-sister-in-law, who seems to take delight in giving Lily horrendous, stupid and expensive gifts and then dropping in unexpectedly “on her favourite nephew” to see whether she’s using them. Presumably when she finds that Lily’s hidden them in a broom closet or just plain thrown them away, she goes and complains to Josh, thus inciting yet another pointless argument over Lily’s “unnecessary malice” towards his relatives. The latest doo-dad was something called a “Flavorwave Oven Turbo” – something Lily clearly does not need, as she is already in possession of a fully-equipped kitchen.

“Well she went on and on about how it cooked food faster and better and whatever, I don’t know, I clearly don’t need the thing, so I explained to her that I was very grateful, but if I could get the receipt, I’d exchange it for something I really needed,” Lily continued. “So of course she flounces about saying how difficult, how inconvenient, but since I obviously need her charity, she will oblige. Of course she’s worked it so that I HAVE to get an exchange, I can’t just get a refund and be done with it. It’s all online, though, so I sit down and work out what I could possibly need form this stupid place.

“I swear, Arthur, you would not believe the stuff they sell. I had $200 credit, so I just started browsing. First thing I came across was this thing called a ‘Tobi Steamer’, which is this thing you can carry around and it removes wrinkles from clothes and curtains and things. Looks kind of like a small vacuum cleaner. And I thought, well, you know, why not. It’s only a hundred and fifty dollars, and it looks very handy. I was just about to buy it, when I thought – no. What on earth am I going to remove wrinkles from? I don’t own any clothes that are really worth owning a whole bloody steamer for. We don’t even have curtains. So I left it.

“Then there was this thing called a Swivel Sweeper, cleans carpets and floors and all sorts of things. Great, I thought, I’ll get that. A hundred dollars, I’m still getting a good return for Alice’s gift, and it cleans. Right. So I was going to buy that, when I thought – I have a vacuum cleaner, almost brand new. I have a mop. What else do I need to clean my floors? I don’t need it. So I moved on.”

“You’re a terrible example of the typical consumer, Lily, did you know that?” I remarked.

“Shut up. So the next thing I found is called a 9-Minute Marinator. What you do, you whack your meat in before you cook it, add some herbs and oil and marinade, give it a spin and suddenly it’s all tender and flavoursome. Wonderful, I thought. I can make use of that, it’s only eighty bucks, let’s go. But then I thought, how can it possibly make the meat taste any better than the way Nanna taught me? Good old meat-tenderiser hammer, and careful marinating… I like cooking properly. I won’t use it. Nope. I left it.

“After that it was the H2O Mini Vac Turbo… seventy bucks, but hey, it’s still something for free, right? Cleans up dry and wet spills, small, handy, kind of like those old dust-busters. I was literally typing in my address when I realised I hated those old dust busters. They never did the job properly. We went through half a dozen in about two years, d’you remember? Pointless. I left it.”

“The dust-busters were useless,” I agreed, having worked my way through most of a cup of coffee due to not actually having to contribute to this conversation for a while, and feeling like some sort of comment was in order.

“So I searched in vain for something, anything I could use. And what did I find? The Snap N Slice. Fifty bucks. For veges and stuff, you know? Simple. Simple as anything. Perfect, I’ll buy it, send it to me.”

“So you’re the proud owner of a new Snap N Slice?” I queried, peering into the bottom of my coffee mug to see if there was any sugar residue.

“Oh, no. I thought about it two seconds longer, and realised that those sharp blades are a terrible hazard for Jamie. You go around disguising a knife as something else and god knows what kids think they can do with it. I couldn’t have something like that in the kitchen. No, in the end I managed to convince them to just take the oven back without charging me postage and handling. Really, it worked out much for the best. I got the best possible deal out of the whole thing.”

“So what are you going to tell Alice?”

“What I always tell her, though usually in more polite terms – she can take it and shove it. Aggressive gift-buying, honestly.”

One of the more pressing issues of today. Anyway, I don’t like Alice. She used to call me Art, which is only very slightly less irritating than Artie. Plus, it’s nice to know that people as smart and together as Lily still manage to have their loopy days.

Why, Mr T? Why?


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