Tuesday, August 17, 2010

That'll Be Seven Lipsticks, Please

Book Cover
In honour of my new collection of short stories coming out day after tomorrow on Amazon Kindle, I'm giving y'all a freebie...story, that is.  Hey...why have Canadian friends if you can't make fun of them?

Hope you love it, and any praise and comments are welcome.

"Oh, for god's sake, just pay her," said Sam's wife, as she felt the urge to sneeze.

Sam pulled a twenty dollar bill from his wallet and handed it to the woman, who merely stared at him, and Sam made the "take this or I'll shove it down your throat" gesture. Again, she only stared.

"Skect toords implu zurk bans?" she said.

"Um, excuse me?"

She repeated the phrase.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand. No speaka Canglisch." He laughed at his own joke.

"Look. Illll precipitation fork to strotches, stomples and snofrels. Dude to snowfall, stouth, and then northern manges, okay?"

"Honey, DO something," said his wife. "I gotta go to the bathroom."

Slowly, he said, "We no speak Canglisch." Again, he chuckled at his brilliance.

This seemed to register recognition with the woman as she inserted a device into her mouth and began again.

"The proper term is Englanadian, by the way. You're not from here, eh?"

"No, we're not. We ran out of gas right outside your lovely hockey arena so could you please take the money and allow us to go on our way?"

"Ironical, isn't it? After twenty years of marriage, suddenly he's out of gas," Sam's wife chimed in.

The woman continued to stare.

"Can you please take my money?" he said.

"FINE!" the cashier said, loudly. "See that machine over there?"

Sam nodded.

The woman's speech began dripping condescension and slowed as if Sam were needing his eye chart translated from Japanese, or Canadian, for those of you still following. "Take your little twenty, put it into the slot and wait for it to make the conversion. 's that simple."

"OH!" Sam said. "Currency conversion, of course. Why didn't you say so? I didn't realise we were that far over the border. Be right back."

As Sam walked away, the cashier chuckled to herself. "Oh, just you wait."

The machine looked much like an ordinary ATM, but larger. Sam was clearly impressed.

"Gosh, honey, I remember the day when you had to take your money to a bank, fill out forms, stand in line, deal with some embittered teller who would rather be at home with a good crochet hook...look at this! It's got everything."

"Oh, for god's sake, just put the money in, I gotta PEEEEEEEEE!"

"Right. How hard can it be?"

Spoken like a true man.

Sam placed the twenty dollar bill into the slot, the tv screen blinked a bright yellow. "WELCOME TO THE CCC. CANADA CONVERSION CONTROL. PRESS ONE FOR ENGLISH, TWO FOR SPANISH, OR THREE FOR ENGLANADIAN."

"What? No Canglisch?" Sam pressed one as he chuckled.


"Am I standing here?" Sam pressed one.


Sam snorted. "Wha? Only in Canada. All right, one."

"THANK YOU," said Stephen Hawking.

Another screen blinked out a menu:







Sam thought carefully. "Wait, this is a trick question. Canadians don't have fingernails, and Americans have the market cornered on sweaty socks." He hit the letter C.

Hawking's voice sounded pleased, or, as much as he can. "TAKE YOUR CURRENCY, AND THANK YOU FOR VISITING CANADA. CLOSE THE DOOR ON YOUR WAY OUT."

Five tubes of lipstick dropped down the chute.

The couple stared incredulously.

"What is this? Did I hit the Cover Girl machine instead of the Currency Converter? If I put in a token, will a concealer pop out? What happens if I get three blue eye shadows in a row? Will I win a date with Tammy Faye Bak...."

"Honey! Just ask her."

"Oh, miss . . . ." Sam strode over with all five lipsticks held high in the air. To the untrained eye, he looked like a transvestite terrorist about to rob the place, armed only with a lipstick and not a half bad pair of legs, but that's just this narrator's opinion.

"Your stupid machine gave me cosmetics instead of cash. I want my money back."

The girl only shoved an English to Canadian dictionary in his face.

Oh. Did I mention his dialect was atrocious?

Frustrated at Sam's atrocious dialect, the woman inserted her device.

"Look. There was no mistake. You put in a twenty dollar bill, yes?"

Sam shook his head.

"And you got five lipsticks, yes?"

Dejected, Sam shook his head.

"Then what are you complaining for? Are you ready to pay or not?"

Sam shoved the pack of gum onto the counter and waited for a total.

"That'll be seven lipsticks, please."

"WHAT?? I put the pack of gum on the counter, tried to pay for it with a twenty, you told me to go convert myself and now you're telling me I'm short? That would make the gum cost over . . . .

"Twenty-seven fifty." Even at critical bladder mass, his wife's thinking was clearer than his own.

"Our conversion rate isn't based on the current rate of conversion, it's based on the current rate of conversion that it was yesterday, but not yesterday's conversion rate, rather, what yesterday's current rate of conversion would be at tomorrow's rate of current conversion, which would make it today's current converstion rate."

The vein on Sam's temple bulged.

"All I have on me is a twenty . . . .er, five lipsticks. Where can I get more cash? Do you have a regular ATM?"

Now, there comes a time in every man's life when he unleashes hideous phonemes and wishes immediately he could suck them back in like fishing line up a Weedwacker. Fine examples of this would be, "I do," or, "I didn't know she was your sister..."

Sam soon realised the stupidity of the comment when the girl let out a huge laugh. Before she could say it herself, Sam cut her off.

"Yes, I KNOW. This is Canada, you don't HAVE real money. How stupid of me."

"Just get back in your car, drive until you get to the Big Chicken, then make a left. There's an ATM across from the plastic Stanley Cup."

"Honey, hurry back. Miss? May I please use your bathroom?"

"Sorry, hockey game patrons only."

"I'm desperate. How much for a ticket?"

"That'll be seven lipsticks, please."

John Candy--may he rest in peace--could have heard Sam's wife's torrential scream of agony. The cashier took pity and sold Sam's wife a ticket for just five lipsticks, although she was miffed that there was no Tahitian Rose among the tubes.

She began her journey and noticed a television showing David Letterman.

As she turned she could hear David's voice trailing in the background:

"Let me tell you the top ten reasons you won't find an American trying to light a Canadian fart...."

Just through the next set of doors lay the hockey arena, and she guided herself into the seats. The little boy next to her was holding a pennant with one of the team's names.

"So who's your favourite team?"

The little boy held up the pennant so she could see the name.

"The Canadian Weather Channels."

"So who's the other team playing?"

"The Fig Newtonians," said the little boy.

"And heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's the concession guy!"

"What are you doing here, little boy?" said Sam's wife.

"My dad is Ed McMahon, and he's announcing. What are you doing here?"

"I have to go to the bathroom."

"Oh," and he went back to munching on his box of green onions.

"Good news, Figs, you may have alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllready won!"

At that moment, Sam yelled into the arena. "Has anyone seen my wife?"

"Honey! Right here. Did you get the cash?"

"No. Why are you sitting in a hockey game with two teams who can't even come up with decent names?"

"Because the only bathroom they had was for patrons and I had to buy a ticket."

"Let me guess: it cost you seven lipsticks."

"Five. She took pity."

"So why aren't you in the bathroom?"

"Oh GOD!" She sped off toward the restroom.

Five minutes later, Sam's wife emerged with a satisfied look on her face he had only seen on their wedding night when she was too drunk to make love.

"So, Mr. Hotshot. Why didn't you get any money?"

And back to reality.

"Yes, I've been wanting to talk to you about that ever since the Big Chicken. Why does our account say we're overdrawn?"

"How should I know? You've had the ATM card. How much does it say we're over?"

"According to this slip, seventy-three lipsticks."

"Let me see that," and she snatched it from his hand. "How can that be? We had real MONEY in there when we entered this land of inflated nod. What did you do?"

Just then, a scream shot through the hallway. A teenage boy was standing just a few feet away with his arms waving wildly. He was mumbling something about driving directions.

"Mister, someone, anyone! Please help."

Sam stepped up. "What's the problem, son?"

"It's my dad, he's lost. My mother was yelling at him to pull over and figure out where we were, but he refused, thinking we could make it anyway. Does anyone in here know how to give directions?"

Sam's wife looked at her husband with a huge smile. "Go ahead, honey. Show em your stuff."

Sam's chest puffed up as he walked forward. "Son, don't worry, I can help, and you won't need directions."

The boy led Sam over to a bench where his mother and father sat arguing. He introduced himself.

"Do you have a map?"

All three tourists looked horrified and the boy spoke up. "Yes, sir, but we've never opened it. Do you know how hard they are to fold back up? In fact, no one's ever seen one folded after use. Oh, there are urban legends about it, but no one knows for sure if it's true. It's like Osama Bin Laden--people talk about him and suspect he exists, but no one's ever seen him."

"Son, hand me that map."

The entire arena hushed as the boy handed him the map. Within mere mortal minutes, Sam had shown them the way to their mother-in-law's home and began folding. The teen wasn't convinced as Sam grabbed the map. "Mister, are you sure you know what you're doing? I mean, you could get hurt."

Before the teen could continue, Sam bent over to tye his shoe, and when he raised back up, he was wearing a cape that had the letters "MF" emblazoned across his chest.

Everyone in the hallway gasped.


"Look at that!"

"You sure that stands for map folder?"


By the time the crowd's excitement had died down, Sam had folded the map exactly as it had been, crease upon crease, fold upon fold. The crowd was so in awe, they broke out in spontaneous applause, and Sam's wife continued to smile.

After the tourists thanked him and the crowd died down, Sam and his wife began making their way towards the front of the arena, arm in arm.

"Honey, I never get tired of seeing you use your powers for good. I love you."

He kissed her nose and said, "Why don't we get out of here?"

They approached the exiting turnstile.

The cashier once again was manning the gate. She smiled and inserted her device. "That was a nice thing you did for that family back there."

"Thank you, kindly. We're going home now. You have a good evening."

"Uh, sir, just a minute. You need a ticket to get out."

"Oh, okay then. How much?"

"That'll be seven lipsticks, please."

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