That's Shakespeare. In case you're wondering.
If you were Delilah "Baby" Sampson, you’d already know that. Delilah got hooked on the Bard back in college. Then she briefly got hooked on Singapore Sling cocktails. And then she got tossed out of school. Yes, when Delilah discovers something she likes, she really sticks with it.
These days, her addictions include sudoku, lime diet cola and now Jimmy Choos. Oh, Baby’s gotta have those shoes! But on her window-washer salary, $700 for one pair is a stretch. Which leads us to her latest obsession gambling.
With an impromptu posse, including an elderly movie star, two Brazilian lesbians and Hillary Clinton (no, not that one!), Delilah hits the casinos and discovers that she’s a natural-born high-roller. Every win puts her closer to those beloved Choos. And as the “21s” keep dropping, so do the men right at her feet. But for a girl who never knows when to fold ’em, gambling and casino guys are not healthy habits. She could end up losing her shirt, her head and a whole lot more.
|Publisher:||Red Dress Ink|
|File size:||525 KB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Everything I learned in life, I learned from Shakespeare; about comedy and tragedy, about the reversal of expectations and fortune. Oh, and from my dad, Black Jack SampsonI learned a lot from him, too.
I woke up that morning,brushed my teeth,ate breakfast.
I've read enough books in my life that I do realize it goes against wisdom to tell a story about a person waking up in the morning and then following them step-by-step until the storyteller puts them to bed at night. But the way I figure it,no wild journey ever began without someone waking up in the morning.I mean,if I never woke up in the morning, there'd be no story at all.
So, getting back to the beginning: I woke up in the morning, had breakfast. The stamp-sized kitchen was a natural light-deprived airless room, its walls perversely painted dark purple-red on a whim by me and my roommate right after we'd moved in.The paint wasn't even dried when we realized that we mutually hated the color, which gave the room the air of a minuscule bordello plus four-bagel toaster (hers), but it would have taken more home-improvement initiative than either of us had to correct the Architectural Digest error of our ways.If we were going to revamp the place,we'd also need to replace the light blue-and-white tiled floor, turned yellowish with age, and the ceiling light fixture, behind which an extraordinary number of bugs gravitated to die. But this would have entailed more visits to Home Depot for just one room than I ever intended to make in my entire life. Let the ugliness ride.
I opened up one of the lower kitchen cabinets, pulled out an opened box of Cocoa Krispies,next to which were three more boxesinsuranceand poured some into a bowl.Then I reached into one of two dorm-sized fridges stacked on top of each other in the tiny kitchen, took out a fresh carton and poured milk into a glass. I always ate my cereal dry, had done so since I was a child, a fact that had made more than one previous boyfriend feel all squicky.
At present, I had no boyfriend. Maybe it was the cereal.
My dry-cereal habit also made my roommate,Hillary,feel squickythe other fridge belonged to herso it was a good thing she only had to watch me eat it on weekends, her job as a psychologist causing her to leave earlier in the morning than me.
Then Isat down to do the same thing I did during breakfast every morning: watch The Weather Channel, listening with half an ear as the forecast for Danbury played three times during the half-hour loop, while going through the New York Timesfrontpage, editorials and crossword puzzle, always in exactly that orderall while crunching my dry cereal.When the last forecast was broadcast on the screen and I was finally convinced that it would indeed be sunny and dry with a high of ninety-two degrees Fahrenheit, I pushed the paper aside, so that now it was bumping newsprint with my roommate's newspaper of choice, the New York Post; considering my roommate had a more highbrow job than mine, her news tastes were lower, but she claimed the jumble puzzles were fun. Then I turned theTV to one of the morning news-talk shows and commenced packing my lunch.
As oneof the TV anchors, pretending to be a serious journalist, droned on about the importance of doing the Back to School shopping thing before the last minute (still a month away),I opened the freezer and took out my lunch:anAmy's Cheese Pizza Pocket, carbon copies of which filled half the freezerthe other half of which was filled with what I would have for dinner, the same thing I had for dinner every night when I was at home: MichaelAngelo's Four Cheese Lasagna.
I have a confession to make here: I am an addictive personality.
Like my father before me, like a rat repeatedly hitting a lever to get at a piece of cheese, for most of my life, when I liked something, I kept hitting that lever even after I was no longer hungry,even after I'd started to hate cheese. This single-minded stick-to-itiveness had served me well in some regards. Back in college, my refusal to let a thing go until I was done with it had led to me reading not just the eight plays assigned in my Shakespeare I class, but all of Shakespeare's plays plus the sonnets.True, Titus Andronicus sucked,but I was glad to have cried through Lear's Cordelia, Cordelia! Stay a little speech, empathized with Macbeth's shattering tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and would have given my eyeteeth to have been Ariel listening to Prospero as Prologue clapped Shakespeare into retirement. But the same obsessiveness that had led me to bardolatry also meant that, once the next semester started, my discovery of Singapore Slings resulted in my drinking them every night at the pub, missing most of my classes and flunking just enough courses to forfeit my student loan. Sometimes my behavior is comic, sometimes it's tragic, and it's only the final outcome of each individual story that determines which one it really is. So that's who I ama rat repeatedly pushing a lever for cheeseand this is my story.
Of course, like many obsessives, I wasn't always this way. My obsessions started when I was eight, the year my mom first got sick. I used to tell myself: If I just fold the towels the exact same way every time, if I knock on the door two and never three times each time I want to enter her room, if I eat the same foods at every meal, she won't get sicker. She won't die. But, of
course, she did get sicker. She did die.The process took ten years from start to finish.And,true,my bargaining with the Devil of Obsessive Behavior hadn't saved her. But, by the time she was dead, I was too used to the security of my obsessiveness to let it go.
While I waited the two minutes and thirty seconds for my pizza pocket to heat up in the microwave, I got out my purple insulated lunch bag and threw in an Igloo ice pack and two cans of my latest drinking obsession: Diet Pepsi Lime.There was a case of it in the fridge and a spare case in the stairwell.When I got home after work, when I had my dinner, I'd drink my other favorite drink with it: Jake's Fault Shiraz,of which there were a half-dozen bottles in the fridge. I liked my wine red and cold, and I liked Jake's Fault a lot, but despite my obsessiveness,I'd limited myself to one or two glasses at a sitting, despite the near overwhelming compulsion to drink the whole bottle.
Hey, if my daily diet lacked nutritional variety, if there was never a piece of fruit or a real vegetable in sightnot in my fridge, at any rateat least I took a daily multivitamin. So, okay, so maybe that multivitamin was Flintstones, but still There were plenty of fruits and vegetables in my roommate's, just as there was a wider variety of food in the lower cabinets that were earmarked as hers.
I read a book once that said many people don't like having overnight guests,not because they're inhospitable or worried that the guests will be a nuisance, but because of a fear of having others see how intensely weird they really are in their own habits.That's me, a woman intensely weird in her own habits, afraid to let the rest of the world see in.
As I zipped my purple lunch bag shut, the morning talk show switched over to commercial and suddenly he was there again: the man of my dreams.
I guess that bears explaining and really he wasn't the man of my dreams,since the man of my dreams was faceless,but certainly he'd inspired a lot of my recent dreams.
The man in question was The Yo-Yo Man.
I mean, it wasn't like he wore a streaming superhero red cape with a giant yellow Y emblazoned on his chest, but I thought of him as The Yo-Yo Man. And the commercials he starred in had been airing for about a month.
There was a new yo-yo manufacturer, Ball and String, which had been trying to unseat Duncan as the manufacturer of yo-yos for some time now. Their latest gambit involved a commercial campaign where this incredibly talented yo-yoistyes, I did just say yo-yoist like it was an actual worddid things that were,well,downright amazing. I guess the theory behind making these commercials was that it wasn't enough for one company to try to say in print ads that they were better than another; when a medium was so visual, they needed to actually show, not just tell.The things that The Yo-Yo Man could do were amazing, and yet he made it look so effortless, as if anyone, including the viewer at home, could potentially do the same, if only they used the Ball and String. He could spin two yo-yos simultaneously, he could juggle fire in one hand while doing Round the World with his other and, man, let me tell you, he could walk my dog any day.
Not that I have a dog. I don't even particularly like dogs. But,really, The Yo-Yo Man could walk my dog any day.
And he was cute.Did I mention that The Yo-Yo Man was cute? Not that you could tell height from a TV commercial, but I still guessed him to be about six feet even to my own five feet even. His hair was the opposite of mine, his being long,curly and blond.And his eyes were a crystal blue-green where mine were somewhere between the light and dark chocolates in a box of Russell Stover. So he was the opposite of me, plus he was cool.
He was certainly cooler than his backup yo-yoists, for of course the commercial did have a supporting cast. How better to get the message across that the Ball and String yo-yo was the best device ever invented to aid someone in their journey to becoming as cool as The Yo-Yo Man than to surround him with also-rans, less cool men and women dropping their own yo-yos,setting their hair on fire,because they were not as talented just yet,because they did not have the right yo-yo.
What, I ask you, is sadder than being an also-ran to The Yo-Yo Man?
I particularly felt sorry for the guy furthest in the background. Furthest Guy, as I thought of him, was kind of geeky-looking, with short-cropped brown hair and uncool clothes;I couldn't make out his eye color.And I guess that was part of the point:to even rate eye color in the commercial,to be as cool asTheYo-Yo Man,a guy needed Ball and String.
And ever since this commercial started airing, nearly every night I had a dream about a man with a yo-yo.The man in my dream was faceless, so it was hard to tell if he was supposed to be The Yo-Yo Man or not,but whoever he was,he was just as amazing with his tricks as The Yo-Yo Man. I don't want you thinking I was obsessed or anything and it wasn't as though I dreamed of him all night long, but, as I say, he haunted me often enough.
As soon as the commercial ended,the strains ofTheYo-Yo Man theme song abruptly cut short, I switched off the TV.
I grabbed my lunch bag and looked down at my attire: a black ColdplayT-shirt that had seen better days,faded khaki shorts, scuffed Nikes.
Sighing at the underachieving squalor that was me, I grabbed the last Ernest Hemingway book I needed to read to make my tour of him complete and my yellow bucket, in which were my squeegee, a shammy, a paint scraper and two rolls of paper towels.
My employer? Squeaky Qlean Window Washing.
Yes, I wash windows.
Even if I hated the name Squeaky Qleanthe name dreamed up by the business's proprietor, Stella Davis, a woman who had yet to realize that there were misuses for the letter Qwindow washing was the perfect job for me. The repetitive motions fit the internal rhythms of my obsessive personality, plus, although there was not a whole lot of prestige involvedprecisely, noneat least my mind was my own. I'd had jobs where I was actually required to think on someone else's time clock and I found the lack of opportunity for free association to be just too mentally confining.
"You're twenty-eight years old now, Delilah." Hillary would attempt to grow me up from time to time."Isn't it time you thought about getting a real job?"