Copyright 2015 Ina Disguise
Shakespir EDITION, LICENSE NOTES
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Pippa looked out of the austere office window, designed to limit the amount of time one would spend gazing at the view, and decided that this job was not for her. She had only been there a week. She texted her agency and told them that she would not be wasting any more time as a typist in an office with no work to do, and packed up her bag to go.
The other temps looked at her in astonishment. How could she leave? This was a plum job, plenty of pay and no work whatsoever. Pippa, however, had been temping for sufficient time to know that these jobs were often created to protect budgets for the following year, and it was not something her Presbyterian ancestry would tolerate. She simply couldn’t stand waste. She got into her car and, after dropping the garden waste she had been carrying off at the recycling centre, did the weekly shopping and went home.
Arriving finally at her computer, Pippa wondered what she would do for the next week or two, until the next temporary job started. She looked at the free dating sites, and wondered whether she ought to try something entirely new. Personal ads, whilst entertaining, were not really her style. Still, she thought, if this was what she was reduced to, she could always aim high.
It only took a few minutes to word her advertisement. Lady, 29 seeks significant other etc etc. She worked on it until it was perfect. An exchange of impecunious classy youth for monied company. Now she had created a charming and rather classy young lady, seeking her other half for glamorous nights out. A standard exchange.
“I suppose I had better actually brush my hair.” Pippa looked at her raggedy gardening nails and unplucked eyebrows and spent the afternoon emulating her advertisement. Pippa was simply not interested in her appearance. She was strangely disconnected from the physical, although fascinated by the social. She scrubbed up reasonably well after a couple of hours of relatively boring work. There wasn’t much she could do about her weight, but she supposed that millionaires were sometimes ugly too, so she wasn’t that worried.
It took only a few hours for the first answers to come in. An oil company director, working in Dubai. This seemed like a bit of a commute. No. A lawyer, working down the coast. He would do. She wrote a reply and was surprised when his instant response was a fifteen line poem, in florid and beautifully constructed verse. Gosh, she thought, this one must have a soul. This could take some time. She replied and moved onto the next one. Ewww, company director of the largest logistics company in Europe, recently divorced. OK. She replied.
She did not imagine that the reply would be fast, so she reviewed another couple. An inherited millionaire wanted to take her to the casino. That would be interesting, she thought, so she made a rather vague arrangement to see him the following week. At this point she decided that it might be a good idea to see her friends, since any potential dates would not be that evening.
“Since when did you care this much about money?” Robert scoffed as they downed their first pint of cider in the grubby pub they frequented.
“It wasn’t really about the money. I just wanted to see if I could do it. Socially.”
“What’s social about you? You are crazy. What rich guy is going to want you?” Evidently Robert did not have a high opinion of her, Pippa thought.
“Suck it and see, Robert. Why would money make any difference? I was operating on the principle that I might as well date a rich guy as a poor one. Would you like another pint?” Pippa swallowed the rest of the alcohol and went to the bar, strangely hurt.
“You’re delusional. I don’t want to get sucked into your madness. Stupid bitch.” Robert accepted the pint that Pippa had brought. Pippa frowned.
“I think maybe we better change the subject, Robert. How is your brother?” Pippa was always at a loss at how her friends spoke to her. Why would she have to pay for the company of sad little men? She was a bit tired of the whole principle of dragging depressed assholes through life. “I’m a bit fed up with your poor self image crap, by the way. What’s to stop you doing the same thing?”
“Ha ha, what rich bitch is going to want me?”
“You might be surprised. You never know until you try.” Pippa stared at Robert, exasperated. She was there, apparently, to be dragged into his emotional cesspit.
“Can you imagine me on the arm of some old cow?”
“Why would it have to be an old cow? What about a nice girl that likes owls and historic weapons, or whatever?”
“Nah, you’re insane.” Robert shook his head and licked his yellow teeth. “Not going to happen.”
“Ok then.” Pippa sat back. “It’s your round. I’ll have a gin and tonic this time.”
Later that evening, Robert managed to incite an attack from one of the obscure group of men that gradually joined them by discussing his sardonic love of Stalin. Rather than explain Robert’s emotional situation, Pippa simply floored the man using an old judo technique she had seen in a movie. The large plasterer was very surprised to find himself on his back, Pippa gazing down at him. He marvelled at her polite accent. “That is just not OK, Peter. You will just have to be a good poppet. Would you like a drink, dear?”
“Ah, right, yeah Pippa.” Peter, along with the rest of the frequenters of the bar, had learned over the years that Pippa was terribly sweet, kind, and not to be messed with. “Lager, please.”
“You want a shot with that?” The manager laughed as he picked Peter up from the floor. Pippa was very good for business, and saved him lots of problems with the boozers.
“She’s mental.” Lila, who had joined the company, whispered to Robert. “How do you put up with it?”
“She’s not my girlfriend, she is just some fat cow that went out with my brother.” Robert looked embarrassed. Lila had very nice tits and little brain. There was hope for him yet.
“Girls aren’t supposed to do that. My mother would be horrified if I did that.” Lila pursed her lips.
Aware that Pippa had just rescued him from a beating, Robert felt only a twinge of guilt as he said “Yeah, she’s a nutjob, but she’s good for a pint.”
The following morning Pippa awoke as usual and mowed the lawns before breakfast. She was fortunate not to suffer from hangovers. Before working in the garden, she checked her mail.
This time the lawyer had sent her a twenty line poem. She frowned slightly at this, and thanked him, but noted that he had told her nothing at all about himself. She wondered what this was all about? She firmed up her casino date, and arranged to meet the company director the following day.
New mail had come in. A semi-celebrity martial artist, and a wealthy hairdresser. Given that she made arty carpets, she was particularly interested in a carpet millionaire with a local factory. She replied to all of them. Another oil guy. She decided not to bother with him. He was bound to be away a lot, and she did not think that would make for a great relationship.
Suitably cheered on, Pippa dug the garden and trimmed the hedges before remembering the inevitable scratches on her hands. Drat. Not much she could do about it now. She found some concealer and put it aside, along with a strange dress, for the following evening.
The Company Director was a surprisingly small but spry looking man, who wanted to take her out in the capital. She agreed to this, and drove her small scruffy car through the evening traffic and the forty miles. She was careful to conceal the car before she arrived at his door. He looked shocked, although he had seen her photograph.
“Gosh, there’s so much of you to enjoy.” He looked slightly intimidated. Pippa felt slightly miserable but bounced along regardless.
Over dinner, he delivered his killer line “I had lunch with William Hague, and now I’m having dinner with you.”
“How nice, what did you have?” Pippa was becoming aware that money did not remove the self-esteem issues she was trying to escape. The company director was a bit too submissive, she thought. Not terribly surprised by the divorce, then.
Pippa drove home in her battered but trusty car, thinking about her forthcoming trip to the casino and wondering what safety net she could impose. She could get Robert to phone her and provide an escape? No, not her style. She decided to buy some cigars instead.
The casino date came all too soon, and a young Jewish man came to the door to pick Pippa up for her date. Pippa, being very fond of Jewish men of any age, for some reason she could not quite identify, was delighted. He explained that his family money was in diamonds, told her some thrilling tales of epic smuggling, and that he was working as a taxi driver whilst awaiting his millions. Pippa was slightly less impressed. Inherited millions were not going to work, she thought. Maybe she was looking at this the wrong way? She was expecting a relationship with someone who happened to have money, as opposed to the money itself. This guy had been dumped, he said, by even the most mercurial models the city had to offer. She wondered what could possibly be wrong with him, apart from the apparent pending status of his loot.
The casino, when they arrived, was surprisingly tacky. Pippa was less than thrilled when he showed far more interest in the tables and slot machines than her, and conversation was limited to the end of the evening, when they enjoyed the complimentary egg sandwich that the casino provided to regular customers. No, thought Pippa, this was not going to work well at all. She produced the cigars. He was not dissuaded. She arranged to meet him again elsewhere at a later date.
Pippa checked her email when she got home, and found another 25 line poem from the lawyer. Exasperated, she emailed a request to meet up. She wondered when this would be? In the meantime she made arrangements to meet the carpet millionaire, the hairdresser and the martial artist. Robert called, and she agreed to meet him the following night. Things were getting hectic. Pippa wondered if she could keep up with all this socialising. She didn’t like people quite this much.
“How is the dating going?” Robert tried to sound innocent, as they settled over their customary pint.
“Well, you know, this and that, blah blah.” Pippa screwed up her face “I had lunch with William Hague, and now I’m having dinner with you.” She grimaced.
“Really?” Robert was far more impressed with this than anything else Pippa could say. Pippa found this astonishing.
“Yeah he thought that was impressive too. Why is that impressive?”
“William Hague, innit.”
“Just because you’ve seen people on TV, it doesn’t make them God, you know. I’m not that fascinated by a bald Tory with a killer voice. I’m sure he goes to the toilet too, you know.”
“He’s just a person, Robert. Not that interesting.”
“More interesting than you.” Robert scowled.
“Oh good, perhaps William Hague will buy the next round then. Good luck with that.” Pippa was in no mood for Robert’s bullshit.
The following evening was the carpet millionaire. Pippa was looking forward to this one, since they would naturally have something to talk about.
He was blown away by Pippa’s house. Pippa was slightly happier about this, since the house dominated her life. They went to a local restaurant, where he told the waiter at least ten times how beautiful Pippa was. Pippa quite liked this to start with, and then realised that he hadn’t actually said anything else. Being Pippa, she challenged him.
“My ex-wife left me because I didn’t tell her she was beautiful often enough.”
“I think your ex-wife may have been an idiot.” Pippa quite liked this guy, although she suspected he was role playing a standard heterosexual male that she did not quite recognise and would rather have been out with a man if he had really thought about it.
“Something to do with her dad telling her she was beautiful a lot.”
“Ah. I don’t have that problem. It’s all about the work really. I thought I might be useful to a carpet company. You find that a lot with women. If their dads were at the football on a Saturday, they find a husband that does the same thing and go shopping for ribbons and frocks. Mine was fixing drains and climbing ladders, so I joined in.”
This date was reasonably successful, although the carpet millionaire had taken a high quality company and turned a profit by reducing the quality and increasing the quantity, which was not quite what Pippa had in mind. The following day, she was to meet the hairdresser. Pippa was starting to suffer from combat fatigue.
The doorbell went in the morning, and some flowers arrived, from the gambling taxi-driving millionaire. Pippa accepted these and put them in water, dreading the next date. He called her to make sure the flowers had arrived. Pippa could hear his mother in the background, telling him to keep talking. Poor guy. Pippa was aware that he did not like her this much.
She was to meet the hairdresser in an Indian restaurant in town. He was a little fat, and a little ugly, but she chatted away, hoping to find some common ground. There was none. Pippa did her best with it. He was wary at first, but relaxed towards the end of the night.
“You have a lot of hair. I’d like to do something with it. You’d need to lose some weight though.”
“Lovely.” Pippa decided that this was not the millionaire for her. Good curry though.
The litigating poet had not replied. Pippa emailed again, in an effort to find out what the problem was. She decided that he was probably married to someone that did not appreciate his poetry. Pippa did not like poetry either, but he seemed to have some wit, at least. She was starting to despair of finding wit. Many things are forgivable, if only people have wit.
The martial artist, when she finally met him, had no wit. He was very handsome, but utterly devoid of wit. She drank him under the table, and they laughed a lot. He fell asleep on her sofa, and the following day stayed and watched her sew. Pippa was confused. Did martial artists not have to go and do some martial arts? At length, he fell asleep and stayed over again. She was relieved to finally rid herself of the audience the next morning. No, no and again no.
No new emails had come in. Pippa wondered if she should rerun her advertisement, and decided against it. She was just going to have to do without. Dating was just not her forte.
She kept in touch with the carpet millionaire, and had another date with the gambler at the behest of his mother, but decided that marrying for money was just not her thing. She wasn’t interested in pretending anything, and she wasn’t that fascinated by money. What she had learned was invaluable. Life was a question of priorities, and prioritising money seemed to be at the expense of your social skills. She despaired. Evidently she was just crap at life. At length, it was time to go back to work, and she carried on, wiser than before, but a bit disappointed that she couldn’t be bothered going for a second date with the millionaire chef that had recently taken to chasing her.
Pippa’s sister came to visit.
“Ewww look at the state of you. Who would want to go out with someone like you? Yuck”
“I couldn’t possibly say. Obviously nobody.”
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