On the day in question, we’d been enjoying a relatively calm existence until she somehow snagged her thumb on the 125 year-old wooden Korean wedding duck’s beak. Nothing could bring my irrepressible mother to her knees faster than pain.
Business Up Front Party In The Back
“Damn, a sliver’s gone in deep. Kelly, run and get me the tweezers.”
Tweezers? We were lucky if our “first aid kit “contained a single functioning band-aid.
I toddled over to examine her right thumb, confident that a push-pin or an unfolded paperclip could do the job. However, she was right. She needed something with a pincer action. While the jagged muddy-colored shard was embedded rather deeply, I could just make out a wink of the protruding tip. Fortunately, a stranger’s kind request aborted my imminent dash to the local drugstore.
“Would you like me to try to get it out with my Swiss Army Knife?”
The fellow in his mid 30’s was the picture of capability. He was over six feet tall, wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and a pair of solid, scuffed work boots. As we expressed relief, he broke into a huge smile.
“I’m Ed. I’ve been in before but you two have always been so busy I’ve just quietly looked around. I love your stuff. Shall I have a look at our patient?” He began unfolding the small silver knife set that he’d pulled out of the depths of his back pocket.
“Frankie, you and Ed should go back into the office, where you’ll have some privacy.” I interjected, knowing full well that Frankie wasn’t going to handle this well. The fact that she didn’t know Ed wouldn’t change her reaction. She’d still involuntarily shout out in pain.
The two of them made for the back room and stood behind the three-quarter length Japanese cotton curtain that provided scant privacy between the office and the front of the shop. One had a clear view of their legs and feet; Frankie’s running shoes resignedly facing Ed’s leather boots.
Ed’s baritone voice floated soothingly out from behind. He’d obviously picked up on her trepidation.
“Just hold still. I’ll have it out in a jiffy. ”
Two middle-aged women chose this moment to enter the store. New to me, their chirpy attitude identified them as “ladies who lunch.” Smartly dressed in wool pants, heels and matching black Burberry raincoats, they granted me a cursory acknowledgement and continued arguing about the authenticity of the Chinese blue and white bride’s jar in the window. I gathered the shorter gal had been given one for Christmas, but not one of ours. Hers was larger and missing its original top.
“Frankie, it won’t be good for either of us if you move. I won’t be able to get a proper grip.” Ed admonished.
At this, the two gals swiveled their attention to the back of the room.
“I’m going to start now. It’s going to hurt. But just a bit, Frankie. Ready?”
“Oooohh” Frankie moaned in anticipation.
The front of the shop grew deathly quiet.
“I’m going to pinch now. It’s imperative that you NOT move. Ok?”
“Do it, Ed. Just do it.”
“Ok. On three. One … two … three.”
“Ahhhhh, Ed! Stop! It hurts!”
Ed’s voice morphed into that of a mother crooning to her colicky infant.
“It always does, at first. I know. Pinching isn’t doing it so I’m going to have to penetrate. I’m sorry, but it’s the only way I can get satisfactory results.”
The two women couldn’t believe what they were hearing, they began to edge their way to the front door. This was obviously a shop that operated under the principal of “business in the front, party in the back.”
I began to babble.
“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. Welcome, welcome. That bride’s jar in the window is special as it still has its original lid. Most are smashed or long-lost and have been replaced with wooden ones. Would you like to see it? Or can I show you something else?”
They fled as Frankie began to howl …
This post is a sampler from the book I am writing about the wondrous ten years I worked with my somewhat eccentric, type A Caucasian mother in her Asian antiques and collectibles shop. Think: Antiques Roadshow meets Auntie Mame meets James Herriot.
It wouldn’t be for six more months and at least five visits to the shop that Ed felt confident enough to share with Frankie and me his carefully guarded secret …
*** Please note, I’ve linked this post up with the Finish the Sentence Friday gang due to this week’s prompt of: “The sounds around me…” I thought it was appropriate. Do pop over to Kristi’s site to read the other posts on this topic!