Elsa: “Hey there, Janie!”
Despite the disapproving glances from my mother, the rave in the Ancient Ruins was beyond worth it. Like I said, B, Paige had connections. And Paige liked me (of course she did, I’m amazing). That meant that everyone at the rave liked me, and desperately wanted to be my friend.
This was the kind of situation that I liked to be in. I was always a popular girl at school, one of the leaders of the pack. Even so, because of my mother’s restrictions, I always had a problem being the one. There was always someone more admired than me, more adored, more liked. And, more recently, I wasn’t even one of the ones—some people knew me, but there was no adoration to speak of. I was a store owner, after all. That’s hardly a setting of introduction that’s going to lead to high levels of adoration.
But, with the help of Paige, I was rebuilding my name and my presence. Not only did people want to know me, but they were seeking out my presence—it was excellent.
Janie: “Hey Elsa! How nice of you to stop by!”
Elsa: “How are you so perky? I’m so hung over!”
Janie: “You know, it’s a Newman secret. If you’re interested, we sell it in Newman Life…”
Elsa: “Uh… you own a store? Like… you work? I’d heard something like that, but then I saw you last night and figured you were too cool. I thought you’d at least do something cool, like science or journalism. Not… managerial.”
Jalen: “Hey there, girls!”
Janie: “Ugh! Dad, go away.”
Saved by the father. I would later assure Elsa that no, I absolutely did not run a store. It was all my mother’s doing.
I knew that the store was limiting my potential! I mean, I was making friends that way, but just friends. Not followers, not admirers of the type I was accustomed to. But I assumed that it was just because I wasn’t meeting the right kind of people, not because the store made me seem uncool! The horror!
It would have to be shut down. We didn’t need money anyway. Mama and my father were bringing in plenty of income.
Jane: “How are you liking running the shop? You know, I always thought I’d be good at that.”
Oh. Oh no. This was the first time in weeks Mama had deigned to look in my direction, much less be friendly. And this was her olive branch? The thing that I had zero interest in doing anymore??
This would have to be a careful balancing act.
Janie: “Oh… it’s going great…”
Maybe I was being too hasty, in deciding to close the store? I would need to do some market research.
Janie: “Hey Damien! Thanks for stopping by!”
Damien: “Sure, Janie!”
Janie: “What would you say if I said-hypothetically, of course-that I owned a retail store.”
Damien: “You? A store? That’s absurd! Like a unicorn with a day job. You’re not thinking of opening a store, are you? Don’t crush that vibrant spirit of yours!”
Well… So score: Store+ = 1 (if you count my mother’s opinion), Store- = 2.
That’s not that many people against it. I slept on it.
Janie: “snoooooore, snooooore, snoooooore.”
Janie: *talking in sleep* “Noooooo, not a loooooser… not a loser…”
Jalen: “Hey there, sexy.”
Jane: “Darling, you’re drunk.”
…Where did that come from! That should not be here. This is my montage!
The next morning, I tried out my best problem solving skills.
Janie: Playing a concerto should get me thinking!”
Janie: “Bubbles! Inspire me!”
Janie: “Thiiiiiiink. Thiiiiiiiink.”
I gave up.
Janie: “Hey, guys! You wanna come over?”
Time to do some more market research.
Eva: “Did I think you were lame cause you were working in a clothes store? Absolutely. I’m so glad you don’t work there anymore-it would wreck your cred. You have great cred.”
Moira: “You own a store? Oh, you don’t. Good. Don’t open one.”
Jane: “What are you ladies talking about?”
Janie: “Ummmm… nothing!”
Janie: “Yeah, so you’re a no on the store?” *whisperwhisperwhisper*
The current score? Pro-Shop: 1. No-Shop: 4.
Bring on the next opinion.
Midway through the day, Mama seemed to catch on. Well, catch on to something; not the right thing, thank goodness.
Jane: “You know, I’m just so glad my Janie is spending more of her time at home. She’s finally starting to be more responsible! Growing into her maturity. You know, in high school…”
Janie: “Is it really immature to like to be around people and have fun?”
Janie: “Ignore her. I am definitely not mature, if that’s what she thinks mature is.”
Oh, don’t give me that look, B. I am mature. Just because I like to have fun and hang out with people… I am NOT like my father, how dare you say that?? How dare you even think that? My father was a lazy bum who skipped work and periodically slept on benches because he was too lazy to get to bed. I didn’t have a job—I never made a commitment! My father, on the other hand, was making commitments and then breaking them: his commitment to work, his commitment to love my mother. It’s TOTALLY different, B.
Bryan: “Don’t you even think about putting that gorgeous bod in retail! I forbid it!”
At the end of the day, I was no closer to a decision than I had been in the morning.
Janie: “Well. That was a useless day.”
Jane: “I love this house.”
Jane: “Finally! My last masterpiece! I am truly a painter extraordinaire!”
Dammit! Where to all these pictures of Mama keep coming from! My montage!
Janie: “I. WILL. FIGURE. THIS. OUT!”
Pro-Shop: 1; No-Shop: 6.
Yeah, maybe it seemed like the decision was already made. After all, so many people had very strong opinions against the idea. But… I don’t know. I had only just become friends with all of them. I didn’t totally trust their opinion. And compared to the opinion of my best friend, my mother? (Okay, yes, B. It was lame that my best friend was my mother. But you know what? You’re a butt. So there).
For one final day, I invited people over, trying desperately to come a decision that I could be happy with.
Janie: “So… here’s the dilemma, ladies. Hypothetically-”
Dana: “Honey, don’t you even think about it! Don’t you cage your spirit!”
Right. Well, I guess that was that… I couldn’t very well ignore the opinion of seven people… Seven people who, at the moment, looked at me the way I had dreams about—with admiration and respect (and envy).
Candy: “You know what? I disagree. I think you’d do well in a retail store. It’s all about charisma and charm-right up your alley.”
Dana: “Nuh uh! I mean, yes, Janie has charisma and charm, but she’s the life of the party. I envy that so much, that freedom of spirit. Why would you let it go?!”
Candy: “She’s more than just the life of the party, Dana. Janie, don’t limit yourself to the clubbing life. You’re so much better and more complex that than. That’s what I envy-your complexity.”
Candy: “But that’s just my opinion.”
This girl. Candy. She made sense. I was more than just the life of the party. I was a friend to everyone—a chameleon, moving and changing and adapting. And I was really good at adapting to the party scene—and I enjoyed it a ton. But, there were other things I enjoyed too. Like music. And bubble baths. This Candy chick made a lot of sense.
I went back to the store, took the closed sign off the door.
Yeah, maybe the volume of people admiring me would shrink, continuing to run the shop. But, for those people, I could just say that I was doing it to piss off my father (he hated it, after all—that wasn’t even a lie). And, did I really want those sorts of people admiring me anyway? That was the whole point of being a friend of the world—that I had enough friends that I could pick and choose the people worthy of being around me.
Janie: “Yeah, Eva, it’s not so lame now, is it. Now that you actually want to buy something.”
Janie: “YUKI! Did you take that out of the fridge without buying it??”
Janie: “Lol, I’m just kidding, you have at that salad. Free for my good friends.”
Jane: “Janie seems to be having a good time with the shop.”
I give up. Apparently, Mama’s photos all want to interrupt today.
Janie: “Hey, Mama!”
Jane: “Good morning, sweet girl.”
Janie: “…So, the shop’s doing well. 400 simoleons profit last night.”
Jane: “Wow! You know, Janie, I am just so proud of you. I knew you were growing up well.”
Janie: “I saw the new masterpiece on your wall. Did you finally get Artist’s Montly to acknowledge you as a painter extraordinare?”
Jane: “I did!”
Janie: “Congrats! We should throw a party!”
Jalen: “ALERT ALERT ALERT!”
What was that?
Mama ran immediately outside, to see what was happening. That had sounded like my father’s voice, after all. And he was definitely meant to be at work.
Jalen: “Alert Alert Alert.”
When I heard Mama scream, I bolted outside, only to be faced with the gruesome cloak of an armed grim reaper and the heartbreaking sound of my mother’s wails. As devastated as my mother sounded, I assumed something must be wrong with her—it took me long moments to find my father’s prone body, curled up on the ground.
Jane: “No! No, you can’t have him!”
Janie: “Oh. Oh, by the Creator, no.”
This was not okay. This was not okay. Sure, I hated my father. He was a deadbeat and an asshole and he treated my mother horribly and I loved to torment him by doing the opposite of what he wanted. But I still loved him, okay? He was my father!
Janie: “Get ouf of here, Reaper!”
Janie: “And you too, jogger! This isn’t any of your business!”
Janie: “No! It’s not his time yet!”
Janie: “NO!” *sob*
My father had died.