Pandora’s Joke Shop
Pandora’s Joke Shop - Excuse
So, previously in my life I told mum I would be happy not to marry and just find a boy to surf and turf with like Effy does. I think she took it quite well, there was only a little shouting and nervous rolling on the floor and I only got a couple of brownie mix stains on my jumper, whizzer isn’t it? Problem is, since then she’s decided to throw theme parties to pair me up with a “proper man”, she says. Oh, yes, they are even more bonkers than they sound. Although last time I did have quite a blast at a Harry Potter themed one! It was super duper fun with all the wands waving around and vampires too, although I don’t know if Voldemort was actually supposed to sparkle and mum was mad that I dressed up like a fairy – hold on, have I got things confused? I think mum is getting desperate.
Moving on, there’s a party looming ahead so we might as well get on with the story. Whizzer!
I walked down to my very own joke shop – oh yes, it’s the best isn’t it? A few years after college and my mate Emily and I have opened a joke shop! Well, I did because I couldn’t think of anything better than being surrounded by toys and jokes all day, I mean, cockolates! It’s bonkers, isn’t it? And, well, my friend Emily needed a job ‘round Bristol and to get away from her family so I hired her as my manager. It was a brilliant idea, honestly, although sometimes she tries to keep things in check too much and won’t let me play with the toys downstairs. It’s fine though, really, ‘cause we have a bouncing ball contest every month and we keep making up games when we’re bored. It’s whizzer fun!
Where was I? Right, so, that day I went downstairs and Emily was already hard at work at ten in the morning because she’s crazy like that and the shop looked as fun as always except –
“Emily! What’s that in the corner?”
“Good morning, Panda! Well, see I’ve been working all morning on that, I thought it would be a good idea for the holyday to have a display of the sort, don’t you think?”
“Ems! Mum’s called and she wants me to go to one of hers bonkers theme parties again just to set me up with an idiot and I can’t very well have all this Valentine’s Day stuff sitting around, it’s driving me crazy isn’t it, it’s all bollocks. Pride and Prejudice this time, Ems. Is that the one with the zombies?”
“Come on Panda. Can’t be that bad, why don’t you just tell her you don’t want to go?”
“Ems, you’ve met my mum haven’t you? Remember my birthday party back in college? Yeah, do you really think she’s going to listen to me?” Emily scrunched up her face for a moment and I could tell she was remembering the disaster that that party had turned into. Well, not really though because I did get to surf and turf Cookie that night and that was crazy fun too and we played some twister even! Right, story, yes.
“Right, yeah, ok. Well why don’t you make up an excuse?”
“Oh come on Ems, I can’t lie to mum properly. Not since college anyway, I don’t know how I was so wicked good at that back then. But I just get all nervous and sweaty and it just doesn’t work innit.”
“Well, what did you usually say when Effy would take you to get drugs back in college?”
“That we were going to fetch some salad.”
“Christ. And when we went out partying?”
“Missionary work, soup kitchen, volunteering then sleeping at Effy’s, innit.”
“Jesus, with Effy? Effy Stonem? Our Effy? And your mum believed you?”
“Well she didn’t know Ef very well back then, did she? Anyway, now she thinks I haven’t gone volunteering in ages and she’s met Effy so obviously… What do you usually say?”
“Usually I just say that my niece is sick and I’ve got to look after her.”
“Brilliant, Ems! You reckon I could take care of your niece on Friday night? Where does she live, is it far cause I don’t like riding the bus much I’d rather stay at home and play with my fruit friends but you know- “
“Panda, I don’t have a niece.”
“Oh right, yes. Well how does your excuse work then?”
“Have you ever seen me efficiently convince Katie that I can’t go out with her?”
“Right, yeah. Katie is pretty good isn’t she? Right then. Bollocks. Oh! Door bell!”
A costumer had walked into the store, some tall pretty blonde girl with blue eyes. Usually, yeah, I love costumers, they’re wicked fun to talk to and they’re always looking for joke things and toys and such. But today was really a bad day, wasn’t it, with all of mum’s crazy party ideas and I couldn’t very well be bothered to look after costumers. Well, Emily always said that I got too distracted when I was talking to costumers anyway and that it scared them off a bit, something about inside voice? Besides, this particular costumer didn’t look very nice, well, she was frowning a lot and biting her lip and saying something about her ‘fucking crazy hippie mum’ or something under her breath.
However Ems wasn’t very well doing anything other than staring at the girl and there’s one thing I’ve learned about owning a shop is that usually it’s nice to greet the costumers, even though I’m not supposed to talk too much or go on tangents about how whizzer cool it’d be to have a real live pet kangaroo and your house and things like that.
“Hello, good morning costumer! Could I help you with anything? Actually, hold on, have you ever thought of having a real live pet kangaroo in your house? I think it’d be whizzer cool, we don’t have those here though, sorry, we only have toy kangaroos but there’s this pretty big one over there if you’d like to have a look at it. Or a heart for Valentine ’s Day? I know, it’s bollocks, isn’t it? That holyday, total bollocks. Oh, sorry, I just had kangaroos on my mind a second ago, it slipped.” At this point I had bounced over to the girl, she was around our age apparently, and I’d somehow managed to make her frown even more than before. “Bonkers, I know. Hold on, so yeah, otherwise we have a bunch of other toys around, it’s whizzer fun really. Actually, you know, I am having a pretty weird day and all and yeah, maybe you could help me with-“
“Panda!” Well apparently Emily had recovered from whatever spell she’d been into, poor girl, Katie says it’s her lezzer super powers that take over sometimes. It’s crazy fun, really. Anyhow, she was standing next to me now trying to calm me down and staring straight at the costumer. The latter, in turn, seemed to forget about her frowning for a second when Emily showed up – but it was almost too subtle for anyone to see except me, obviously, but that might have been because I was inappropriately close to her and overexcited. Soon enough she was frowning and scowling again though as if invading her personal space was a crime deserving of capital punishment. Rude.
“Sorry, uhm. Calm down, Panda. Right, I’m Emily, can I help you something?” Emily looked straight at the girl with her kind Emily-eyes and an apologetic smile. Rude. I was the one who clearly needed some help that day.
“Yeah, right.” The girl coughed for a second, regaining her composure and pointedly stepping away from me as she rolled her eyes. “I’m looking for a present for my mum? It’s her birthday, I’ve no idea what to get her and her being the crazy old hippie that she is, I thought I might find something here – “
“Actually, maybe you could help me with something.” I ignored Emily’s hand pulling on my sleeve because, honestly, this was a case of national emergency wasn’t it? “What excuse do you usually use to get out of things you don’t want to go to?”
“What- I don’t know!” The girl looked confused and annoyed again, mostly confused though. But she seemed to be a bit out of her element, as if her mind was busy thinking about something else or just too bemused by what was happening around her so she answered anyway. “I usually tell them to fuck off? Or, right, I guess an excuse; I just say my mum’s ill or something.”
“Well, that won’t work on my mum will it?! Fuck me up the arse three ways.”
“Right, yeah, okay. I’m going to go now.” The costumer started to leave clearly mildly scared by whatever was going on.
“Good idea, we’re a bit busy.”
“Panda! You can’t tell costumers to leave! Stay, please, browse some more.”
“No, really, I’d rather go.”
“See, Emily, she’d rather go.”
“Stay. Go on, just browse around.”
“No thanks, I’m just going to go somewhere else cause-“ “Yeah, Ems she wants to leave so-“
“Browse!” This time Emily’s voice was firm and the costumer stopped in her tracks, the redhead was dangerously close to her and definitely standing her ground.
“Okay, I mean what-“
“Right, yes, good.” Emily breathed in and coughed a couple of times; I could see her blushing as she tried to take control over her nerves again. “Sorry. Yes, let’s just get back to task excuse, yeah? Let’s do the thinking rubber bands, maybe we can figure something out that way?”
“Good idea!” and suddenly I was overexcited again and bouncing up and down – until I met Emily’s glare that is. “Actually, you can pitch it, come with us. We don’t do the thinking caps here, we do the thinking rubber bands” I continued as I dragged the blonde girl towards a couple of low children stools we had lying around, she still look part terrified part incredibly annoyed at us all the time trying to pitch in with some quality cursing and ‘what the fuck are you doing’s or ‘what the fucking hell is happening to me’s which I dutifully ignored.
“So, sit down, yes, please. Now, you pop it on your head and you see what springs to mind, alright? Okay, you ready? Whizzer! Go.”
The three of us each popped the rubber bands on our foreheads and sat in silence for a few moments as they slowly sprang through our hair.
The strange girl’s was the first to spring, wrapping her blonde hair in a messy bun on top of her head.
“Oh!” she said, although she still seemed to be frowning like she’d just seen an elf hit itself with a lamp.
“Anything?” I asked. She looked at me like I had suddenly grown three heads and shook her head. Mine was next and I squealed when it reached the top “Oh! Nothing!”
I looked expectantly at Emily but was met with a disappointed “Nothing” in return. I turned to the costumer instead. “Have you definitely got nothing?”
“No, but to be fair I don’t understand the world I have just walked into.”
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