All we had to do was pour a glass of bubbly for each one of the Ladies as they came through the door. And smile politely. For 10 hours.
We started off well, at 10am in the morning, dressed like penguins as instructed. Nobody wanted bubbly so early, in fact nobody even came through the door. The shop was quiet, clean and bright in the sunshine. One of the salesmen came over to speak to us.
‘Sssshhhhhlllllluuuuuup,’ said Susi, making a slurping noise which was to demonstrate that she thought him a slithering slimeball who left gooey trails as he moved.
He ignored her.
‘How are you girls this morning?’
Only Caroline would answer him properly, in a grown-up manner. Susi and I giggled, avoiding making eye contact, as we tended to do with most people over 30. He didn’t care, holding Caroline’s deep brown eyes as he walked away.
Customers began to drift through the door. At first we struggled to uncork the champagne. The corks were stiff and wouldn’t move, and then would suddenly pop when we least expected it, bouncing from the ceiling and raining back down onto the table. Susi developed an ability to time this, letting them go just as the ‘ladies’ walked through the door with their husbands, making them scream.
As the day wore on past midday, we were tiring of this a little and the sofas which the ‘ladies’ were adorning, and the salesmen trying so hard to sell, were beginning to look inviting. We had forgotten to bring lunch and nobody had mentioned anything about a break. We were in some godforsaken car park, a retail desert which had been a nightmare to get to involving 3 buses. There didn’t seem to be a source of food anywhere.
There was plenty to drink, though.
We started by pouring lemonade into plastic cups. After a while, we topped this up with some Asti Spumante. By about 4pm, we weren’t bothering with the lemonade.
‘One for you,’ muttered Caroline as she handed out a glass ‘one for me,’ as she poured herself another, under the table.
‘Let’s make a pyramid with the glasses, you know like they do in films! We can pour the Asti Spumante into the top one and then it’ll overflow into the other ones!’ suggested Susi.
The fizzy pyramid didn’t work quite the way it did in the movies. Wine started to drip from the tablecloth onto our feet.
‘Everything OK there, girls?’
Susi hadn’t even remembered to say ‘Sssshhhhhlllllluuuuuup’. The tablecloth dribbled onto his feet. We were flushed from holding in our laughter, and when he had gone I suddenly felt weak and shaky.
The day ended hazily. We left with arms linked, pulling Caroline along as she looked backwards at Slimy. Sitting at the bus stop, Susi’s bag clinked. She pulled out a bottle of Asti Spumante, and then another.
‘One for you,’ she said ‘one for me.’
The sun was setting. Life was good.