WHO WE ARE

WHO WE ARE
Allie Marini Batts

*

          “I do what I have to, because I can’t undo it, and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t,” she said, her head lolling dangerously to the side on the fist she rested her chin on.

         “What does that even mean?” Sara asked, nudging Abby’s forearm to stop her from dozing off.

         “That I work too much and am starting to sound stupid, apparently.”

She smiled and sipped at her coffee.

        “Did it at least sound good?”

        “Very philosophical. In a Valley Girl kind of way.”

        “So it’d look better if it was written down?”

        “Yeah, probably.”

        “Should I put it in my grad school app?”

        “Only if you can explain it.”

Abby drank her coffee and thought about a quote from The Sandman, how it linked up with her thought: We do what we do, because of who we are. If we did otherwise, we would not be ourselves. It was how Abby handled the shit jobs, the long hours, the lost sleep, the back burner dreams, the past-due bills, the overdraft notices, the falling-apart car and the myriad of glittery things she could not afford. She and Sara were painfully overqualified for the mall job they worked together. They were agonizingly underpaid, to the point that the designer coffee they drank to stay awake while shuffling between the four jobs they collectively kept was a luxury they could hardly afford, despite the perkiness it feigned in their bodies for a few hours. Humanities students, they understood all too well the concepts of beauty and culture, and could afford none of it. They sold upscale lingerie and hair products to women who had money but no taste, or interest in the arts, though they could afford to. Useless products sold by girls with useless educations. The art was in the things that fell by the wayside, the way that the foam on top of a perfectly poured cappuccino looked like a sepia toned version of van Gogh’s Starry Night, or the way that Abby would mime ‘Dorian Gray’ and point through the window at the skinny-jeaned hipster boys cruising the corridors of the mall.

         “I wouldn’t undo it, even if I could.”

        “What’s that?”

        “My useless degree.”

        “Yeah?”

        “Yeah. Even if it means I work shit jobs until I die, I never want to be someone that thinks money makes me better than someone else just because I’m on one side of the counter and they’re on the other.”

 Sara checked her watch and stood up.

         “’Bout that time, babe.”

         “Of course it is.”

They tossed their paper cups into the trash bin and rounded the corner to the escalator. The atrium of the mall bustled with heavily made-up women, desperately searching for things they would never find for sale in the boutiques lining the mall wings.

        “It’s just what we do. It’s not who we are.”

        “God, I hope so.”

*

©2012 This work is the property of the author.

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  1. I love this contemporary version of the ancient philosophical question, “are we what we do?”.

    I’m reminded of the old joke about a degree in philosophy paving the way for a career at Burger King; and the Kurt Vonnegut line (which I can never remember accurately) about being careful who we pretend to be for in the end we are who we pretend to be.

  2. “The art was in the things that fell by the wayside” Love it!

  1. Pingback: Busy, But That’s a Good Thing…I Think. « Kiddeternity's Blog

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