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Friday, April 10, 2009

How’d You Like to Make a Couple Bucks?

Good God, people, it’s Friday again, and time for the Mighty iPod.

Tell us, O iPod! What’s up with my weekend?

St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley
Tell Me In the Morning by Cold War Kids
Jesus Built My Hotrod by Ministry
You Speak My Language by Morphine
Hey Eugene by Pink Martini
Rollerskate Jam by Plantlife
Train In Vain by The Clash
Hallelujah by John Cale *

* One of my very favorite songs and not available on Playlist!

That’s it, people! There’s romance in my future – followed by heartache, apparently. (In other words, it’s looking like every weekend.)

I’m feeling nostalgic today, in the very best sense of the word. Come on in, take the steps at the front of the trailer and sit with me at the kitchen table…

My father, as perhaps has already been mentioned, was a salesman, and a good one at that. He had a talent for conversation, for appealing to the common denominator in any group. He was not shy about using this talent.

“How’d you kids like to make 50 cents?”

And no matter how many times I heard that phrase, I always fell for it.

“Let’s see how fast you kids can wash the car. Get it done in under 15 minutes and there’s a small DQ cone in it for you.”

Neighborhood kids would follow him to the shed for a rag and a bucket, squeal-y with the anticipation of working their collective asses off for a 30-cent cone.

My father worked as soon as he was old enough to consider working, and he sought to instill in us the same burning desire to toil as soon as we were old enough to hear about it. Like my mother’s belief in the medicinal properties of the Hot Wet Washrag, my father believed in the healing power of work, in the self-affirmation of a steady paycheck.

“I had a paper route when I was a boy. Did you kids know that? Did I ever tell you about the route I had when I was a boy?”

“Yes, Dad.”

I applied for my first job in fourth grade by filling out a form in the back of a comic book. There, next to advertisements for x-ray specs and garlic chewing gum, was the opportunity to earn extra money. I was, of course, hired immediately and went door-to-door selling candles, greeting cards, little porcelain salt and pepper figurines of angels, windmills, and mushrooms.

My father was sitting at the kitchen table when my first catalogs came in the mail. He patted the chair next to him, then held his hand out. I handed him the catalogs. He flipped through one.

“See? You’re thinkin’. You’re thinkin’,” he said, tapping the side of his nose. “You’re in a trailer park, you got all these doors right next to each other. Boom, boom, boom, you’re up and down the streets in five, six hours.”

He paused, lit a cigarette.

“Let me hear your patter,” he said.

“My what?”

“Your patter. Your spiel. Your opening line when they open the door.”

I hadn’t considered my patter.

He slapped his left hand on the kitchen table.

“See?” he said. “You lost me. You lost me and I’m closin’ the door.” He leaned forward in his chair, ready to slam an imaginary door.

I put my arm out. “Wait!” I paused. “OK.” I said. “Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?” my father said.

“Hi. My name is Pearl and I’m 10 years old and I’m selling candles and cards and cute little salt and pepper shakers because I want to buy a bike. Would you like to see a catalog?”

My father sat back, tapped his cigarette into an ashtray shaped like an outhouse.

“OK. Not bad. Not bad. But hand them the catalog, don’t ask them if they want to see it. You asking gives them the chance to say no. And when you hand it to them, have it open to the candles. Women love candles.”

He paused.

“And how old are you again?”



He looked at me, frowned. He seemed perplexed. “Tell ‘em you’re nine.”


“Nine sounds better.”


“It just does. Trust me.”

He paused again.

“Oh, and don’t tell them it’s for a bike. Bikes are iffy. Tell ‘em you’re going to band camp or something. People always want to send kids away for a couple weeks.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“You’re welcome.”

Have a great weekend everyone! I’m here Saturday and Sunday, too, so stop by if you’re not busy.


Jodie Kash said...

What is about Dad's and at-the-time-somewhat inappropriate behavior that becomes the stuff of legend?

We used to play bartender with Dad. Set up, line up rows of shot glasses filled with beer (poured by our own hands from cans of Red White and Blue).

Dad put away a lot of those shot glasses. And looked away when we did.

My Dad rocked. Hope he's bowling and drinking with Johnny Cash in heaven.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

My father-in-law is a salesman.

My father-in-law's salesmanships pales in comparison to your father's.

As for romance in the future, me thinks it's romance with the church...I mean, Saint Elsewhere, Jesus Built my Hotrod by Ministry, You speak my Language (like, in Tongues) and Hallelujah!. This is pointing toward you enrolling in a convent in the near future.

Or, you're going to get that role of Ophelia that you've been trying out for and not telling us about.

Ann's Rants said...

Now we know where you got your flair for awesome detail...nine not ten. Perfect.

IB said...

Thanks for sharing, Pearl. That was great. I can read the pride in your words.

God, I would have LOVED your dad!

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

I'm going to try your dad's spiel to sell some houses. Think it will work?

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Band camp! You're dad could sell it. Did you ever get that bike Pearl? I hope it was a nice one with the streamers on the handlebars, those were the best.

Ok my ipod shuffled me crap last weekend. I am hoping for better today!
Score good stuff - Bare Naked Ladies, Michael Buble, Jars of Clay, a little Renee Fleming, Erin Mccarley and Madonna. That's not so bad eh? Don't know what it says about the weekend but I'll take it.

Have a good one!

Anonymous said...

He was an excellent salesman!

You can be proud Peggles!


(We're starting Spring Cleaning tomorrow...so I'll be sure to stop by on my mandatory breaks between window washings and carpet cleanings...)

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Great story about you and Dad sitting at the dinner table.

Love the way he got you to work that patter.


Warty Mammal said...

And now your dad is a volunteer for the Small Business Administration's retirement corps, a group which advises struggling business owners on how to be more profitable ...

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

So, how much did you sell? Did you get the bike?

Tamsin said...

That was awesome enough to bring me out of hiding as a lurker just to tell you "wow'. Nicely done :)

Eskimo Bob said...

It's memories like that - where you look back and smile; then crap your pants because you realize you're a parent and hope to high heaven that you can impart more wisdom than: "You remember that episode when Homer . . . "

The Retired One said...

Awwwww..shit...he lost his calling..he should have been a politician...he was a born natural!!

I can see you got a lot of your humor from him!
Have a great Easter, friend Pearl!!

The Retirement Chronicles

Michelle said...

This story rocks Pearly-Q!

Bikes are iffy!!! WHO KNEW???


Not The Rockefellers said...

I could so see this as a one act play. Or the start of a script. Really...it's that good.
Think "Little Miss Sunshine".

Go for it, Pearl!

Peace - Rene

darsden said...

Wonderful stories Pearl, love them. Your dad sounds like an awesome dad. I sold greeting cards too. Took my brothers bike paper route away because I was faster and collected the money.. Yes, I was an early intemidater (msp) yep englesh..LOL english wasn't my best subject.

Happy Good Friday to you... OH, I have some Chocolate Cover Cherries for sale...would ya like some?

Anonymous said...

The Clash! Yeah, Pearl come on!!

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

HAHA! Your dad is one hands-on get-real-with-life guy!! Love him!!

So how many candles did you sell?

Rick said...

What's your Patter? Very funny. It sounds like your Dad was born to be a salesman. He was probably working a deal with the doctor for something the minute he was born.

lisleman said...

spending time together - sharing ideas
that's a great thing we all could use more of


Dr Zibbs said...

The Clash - doesn't get better than that.

Red Squirrel said...

Your Dad knew where it was at.

I'm surprised he didn't make you claim you were blind... :)

Pearl said...

Jodie, did he send you to the store with a note saying it was okay to sell you cigarettes like mine did?! As I recall, when I was about 8 they were 35 cents for a pack.
Oh, my. Did you hear that?! I think I just heard some old woman!!

iNDefatigable, I think I got the skillz to combine the two: religious fervor and insanity. Think of the blog possibilities!

Ann, thank you!

IB, he’s still around – you know I was looking at the piece and it seemed like he might be gone, but he’s not. He’s up north, with my mother, building cat houses for the cats that show up, abandoned by morons… Check out the category “My Weird Family”. I’ll bet I’ve mentioned him more than once…

Mary, my dad would tell you to stage the house if at all possible and to have flowers on the kitchen table. Women love flowers on the kitchen table!

Blogging Mama Andrea, I’m sorry about your iPod! Did you try shaking it? No? Maybe that’s not a good idea, actually.
Actually I DID get that bike, and yes indeedy there were streamers involved. I may also have put a playing card in the back wheel, just for that clickety-clickety-clickety…

Sweet Cheeks, mandatory spring cleaning! You go, girl! (Oooh, and I wish you could hear me say that – I am SO lame! It’s like when my Dad used to say, “Going out with your friends tonight? You aren’t mainlining drugs, are you? That stuff’s jive” or whatever he used to say…
I just realized I could write for a long time on my Dad’s sense of humor…

Warty Mammal, he really could be an advisor, couldn’t he? Might have to put a bug in his ear…

Pseudonymous, I had that particular job for about six months and did fairly well.
And would ya believe my next job was as a paperboy? That’s right – I said it. We didn’t have papergirls or paperpeople then. Just paperboys. And it was enough for us. Why, in my day, you were lucky to get a paper any how – boy, girl, didn’t matter who delivered it…

Tamsin, you’re not somewhere in Texas, are you?! I work with someone named “Tamsin”…
And glad you’ve come out of hiding! Feel free to roam the grounds…

Retired One, and I hope you have a lovely Easter, my friend. If you’re “American Traditional” I hope you get lots of gravy out of that ham. My sister (the one to whom I mail coupons for Beano and adult diapers) is feeding us Sunday. All I have to bring is asparagus (and a lot of it) and rolls. Score!

Michelle, right back atcha, baby! Hope you have a great weekend!

Rene, thank you. Would you believe I’m not terribly good at promoting myself? It’s true. But I have been working on the “Trailer Park Papers”, short stories about my childhood, and I can often see the stories as plays…

Darsden, you just keep those cherries away from me! I’ve eaten, uh, about two dozen of them recently! (And I thank you!)
I sold cards/candles/the stuff I talked about. I was a paperboy (see above rant) from 7th grade through 9th, then went to work at a Godfather’s Pizza. I don’t think I’ve had a day off since like 4th grade!!

Greenfingers, would you believe I’ve got every Clash song they recorded? ‘Cause I do.

Roshni, he certainly is.
Can’t really recall now how much I sold. I did get my bike though!

Rick, he was probably working a deal with the doctor the day I was born, too!

Dr. Zibbs, The Clash is so much more than a band. Their music was a political and social mirror of the times…

Red Squirrel, if he thought he woulda pushed more candles and salt-and-pepper figurines, he would’ve found me a white can for tapping my way to the door…
He did once advise me to pretend I didn’t speak English, and when asked questions I would say, in Russian, “I don’t understand”. Funny the things people will say around you when they think you don’t understand…

Captain Dumbass said...

That was a great post, and great shuffle on the iPod.

Ever heard k.d. Lang's version of Hallelujah?

Margo said...

great story and fabulous dialogue. I'm glad I stopped by today (or tomorrow, I guess :)

JBA said...

I can just see you showing up at my front door. I'd buy stuff from ya- especially if you were going to band camp.

Love the IPod list.

powdergirl said...

"People always want to send kids away for a couple of weeks." ROFL

I think I love your dad!

Pearl said...

Capt. Dumbass, no, I haven't heard her version, but I"m sure I would like it. K.D. Lang. I saw her on TV once a number of years ago. I thought she was a man and I had such a crush on him/her...

Margo, I'm glad you did, too!

JBA, I wish you had lived in that trailer park, too. I would've been happy to sell you a little Dutch girl and boy salt and pepper shaker! :-)
Come to think of it, those things really weren't of bad quality...

powdergirl, everybody loves my dad. :-) He's a helluva guy!

SweetPeaSurry said...

I LOVED that ... tell them you're nine and that you're going to band camp. Smart man, people DO want to send kids away!!! LOL

bright blessings!

Pearl said...

Sweet Pea, I'm glad you liked it!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Pearl: Religious fervor AND insanity! I like it, I like it...just be sure to tell daddy not to hide behind any tapestries and don't go floating down the river without a webcam or something!