Singapore Adventure

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Seventy Cents
by venitha

"Oh, wait. I've got the 70 cents," I tell the Home Depot clerk, who is without a doubt Ashton Kutcher researching an upcoming movie role. I dig a handful of change out of the bottom of my bag, glancing about for Demi Moore. Surely she's in the power tool aisle, bare shoulders and cleavage enhancing her orange apron as she demonstrates first the DeWalt, then the Ryobi, power drill.

I liberate all the silver coins from my hand and stuff a fistful of pennies back in my bag, making a mental note to keep an eye out for a gumball machine, a marvel of which Singaporean children are tragically deprived. I set two quarters and two dimes on the counter while Ash stares vacantly at the open cash register drawer.

"That means you get... seven dollars back?"


I take the bills, and one by one he dully thumps each coin with his index finger, counting v-e-r-y slowly, silently mouthing numbers. Twenty-five... fifty... sixty...

"Long day?"

"Long night is more like it."

"I hear ya." Drinking for two ever since Jim departed for Asia, I consumed an impressive number of margaritas myself last night, and while I am not currently arithmetically impaired, it's not for lack of effort.

"I hope your shift's over soon."

"Thanks." He shoots me a queasy smile.

I grab my bottle of Goo Gone, pleased at not having been offered a bag, even if it's merely hangover-induced oversight and not Home Depot's token effort to compensate for the solvent I'm about to release into the environment.

There's something symbolic about my suitcase's attempt to implode here in Colorado and to expose beneath some decorative (at least I hope they're decorative, as I've removed them) straps a sticky goo that gloms onto everything: , as my trusty (until this point) Samsonite shall henceforth be known, wants to stay here in Colorado, too. Always one to note and then to ignore such subtle messages, I do my best to put Humpty back together again and employ the brute force of Goo Gone to clean up his act.

I am tempted to wipe Humpty clean, to strip him of his colorful sticker storybook of airport security validations, immigration and customs certifications, and three-letter abbreviations for Asian cities next to smudged bar codes. But I don't. Like the slight hangover that reminds you all day of a night well-enjoyed, a little baggage is not a bad thing.